The Swan Thieves is a novel supposedly modelled on Conrad's Lord Jim, following psychiatrist Andrew Marlow as he attempts to cure his patient Robert Oliver, a painter obsessed with one unknown woman, painting her over and over again with disturbing realism.
I read The Swan Thieves because I had already read and loved Kostova's other novel, The Historian, and I found The Swan Thieves both like and unlike. It has the same quietness, the same reserved dedication to academia, the same sensitive, compelling characterisation; however, there are no fantastical elements to this novel, no long searches through old libraries, no sense of imminent danger. That said, I did enjoy much of The Swan Thieves; I found it unbearably, quietly sad in some places, and what eventually happened to Marlow was satisfying, although I remained unconvinced by the end of Oliver's story. (What, he got better all of a sudden, just like that?)