I've not done a great job blogging about books I've been reading. And now, instead of trying to remember the past three month's worth of reading (although I can say some standouts were Little Bee, Bee Season, and Eat Pray Love), I want to give special attention to the book I just finished:
The Swan Thieves, by Elizabeth Kostova
This is Kostova's second novel (following her bestseller The Historian). Both novels share similar structure, prose style, and genre (historical-type mystery), and I enjoyed each immensely.
My problem with modern mystery novels is that: they aren't written eloquent and/or they're scary (ie, lots of murder, rape, tense situations, etc.). I know this isn't necessarily everyone's preferred taste - but for me, because of these "issues," Kostova's novels are awesome.
They're written really well - with eloquent, smooth prose. (She went to Yale and got her MFA from the University of Michigan, and I think you can tell from reading them.) And they're constructed unusually, not just a straight story with one narrator from start to finish. The Historian is about historical Dracula and travels across several countries and decades while trying to "solve" the mystery.
The Swan Thieves is an art history mystery. And I couldn't put it down! It switches voices constantly; and travels between 21st century America and 19th century France. Art history buffs will recognize this as the peak of French Impressionism (my fave - so cliche - but I love it!), which makes it so much more interesting.
I highly recommend. And actually, I think it'd make a nice book to end the "summer reading" season and move into Fall, since it's still a gripping mystery, but is written a little better than, say, James Patterson's newest (The Historian, on the other hand, is definitely more of a cold-weather book). I'd sort of challenge anyone to read a couple chapters of either book and not become intrigued enough to want to continue. I'm sort of sad I finished yesterday.