Saturday, March 13, 2010

Week 11: The Swan Thieves


The Swan Thieves, by Elizabeth Kostova


Our book club chose The Swan Thieves for March, and I thought it looked interesting. The story was fairly interesting--it was just very, very slow. If it had been about 2/3 the size (or less), I would have enjoyed it much more. I was reading The Woman in White at the same time and it was a faster read.

The Swan Thieves concerns Marlowe, a psychiatrist/amateur painter who gets a new patient--a well-known artist suffering from a mental illness, who has attacked a painting in a museum. The artist is obsessed with a mystery woman and refuses to speak, and Marlowe goes on a little quest to try to figure him out. The ex-wife tells her story, the girlfriend tells her story, there's a parallel story with a French woman in 1879, absolutely every character paints, there is a whole lot about painting, and the last 100 pages get interesting and finally a minor mystery is solved.

Much too slow for me, and if it hadn't been a book club selection, I would not have finished it. I'm quite curious to see how many in our club do manage to finish it! We were going to share copies, but that assumed that it would take less than 3 weeks to read it.



I also read Nation, by Terry Pratchett, and enjoyed that quite a bit. Pratchett is just so good at what he does.



Homeschooler bonus: I read Using John Saxon's Math Books, by Art Reed. It has some quite useful information, and I'm glad I read it, though I'm not sure it's worth the $20 price. The advice boils down to "use the book, the whole book, and nothing but the book." (That is, don't skip lessons, have the child do all the problems, and don't pay for outside tutoring software if you aren't doing all the problems.) It's very repetitive, because he expects you to read the first half and then just the chapter referring to the math book you're actually using, and of course I just sat down and read the whole thing. It's worth reading if you use Saxon math, but you might want to share. Does anyone want to borrow my copy?

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