Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Swan Thieves

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The Swan Thieves

by Elizabeth Kostova

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova X
The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2010, 576 pages
    Nov 2010, 592 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

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Beyond the Book

Print Review

Fiction about Women, Artists and Mad Genius
One of the key themes in The Swan Thieves is the challenge of male and female artists who form relationships and must navigate the storms of artistic temperament and genius. The theme could be looked at as a genre or perhaps a subgenre of novels about art/romance.

We present for your reading pleasure some favorites of the genre:

Historical Fiction:

Clara, by Janice Galloway
The torturous love affair and marriage of two musical geniuses: Clara and Robert Schumann. Clara maintains her talent and drive despite her husband's fame and depression, but sacrifices her own fame for him.

The Painted Kiss, by Elizabeth Hickey
A fictional account of the woman who posed for Gustav Klimt's famous painting and was his secret mistress. Her love and loyalty to him survive his compulsive philandering but she also makes a name for herself as a designer of exclusive clothing.

Loving Frank, by Nancy Horan
Mamah Cheney becomes the lover of Frank Lloyd Wright, defying all convention in early 1900s Chicago. She is his muse, he is the architect of her freedom as a woman, but tragedy strikes.


What I Loved, by Siri Hustvedt
Bill Wechsler is a highly talented and innovative painter in the art scene of 1970s New York. He marries twice, has a son who becomes very troubled and carries on a life-long friendship with art historian Leo Hertzberg. The creation of art triumphs but much heartbreak, tragedy and despair interweave between the characters.

Paint It Black, by Janet Fitch
Josie Tyrell is a runaway making a new life in Los Angeles as a model and actress when she falls in love with a deeply disturbed painter and poet. Love is not enough to save the young man who has a complex relationship with his mother, a concert pianist.

Spending, by Mary Gordon
The painter is a woman who agrees to let her lover also be her financial benefactor. Their physical passion is surpassed only by the irresolvable conflicts that develop as Monica juggles her painting, between two daughters and her hard won independence.

Article by Judy Krueger

This article was originally published in February 2010, and has been updated for the November 2010 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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