The Swan Thieves, by Elizabeth Kostova, is the story of a famous painter, Robert Oliver, who attacks a painting in the National Gallery of Art and is put into a psychiatric ward. When Robert maintains a state of silence, his psychiatrist, Andrew Marlow, must investigate the artist’s world to treat him, which includes the women in his life.
The Swan Thieves is a story about obsession. It does not specifically delve into Robert’s diagnoses and so I will not delve into “my Robert’s” diagnoses, that of my husband.
As I read the book I recognized my husband in it and wondered if this amazing book would be good for me.
Grant has been ruled by obsessions of one kind or another since his teen years, but I will only talk about the ones that he has gone through since we have been married. For a long time, Grant was obsessed with buying posters, statues and trinkets of cats, particularly of the Egyptian cat goddess, Bast. He had hundreds of pieces. This lasted for many years, after which time he realized that this was stupid and has given much of it away to fellow cat lovers.
Then he got into the cats of Andy Warhol. Cards, posters, pocketbooks (?), scarves.
Now his latest obsession is with “time”, watches. He probably has about a hundred watches. He doesn’t wear them, he just collects many different kinds.
Those who know me know that my family can’t afford what has added up to thousands of dollars, sometimes as much as a thousand dollars a month. When I was working it was okay, and although he’s worked on it, in therapy and taking medication, he still can’t stop.
Why do I stay with him? Because this truly is a part of a his mental illness and many people have this symptom.
He is not a bad person. He has a disease.
Unlike Robert Oliver, I know where he is all the time and I know and understand his obsession. He is good to my son and I, and is in fact a bit overzealous with buying for my son. He gets me presents, even though I don’t want him to, but deserve it.
Despite his obsessions, he loves my son and I, and is being the best son and father he knows how to be.
Please don’t be angry or feel sorry for me, because I don’t, and I am the one who chooses to love him.