Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore – Book Review

Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore
Published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins

Why would a painter at the height of his prowess shoot himself in the chest, and then walk over a mile in order to seek medical attention? What if the shot was not self-inflicted? Although the official story about Van Gogh’s death for the past 100 years has been that he committed suicide – after all, this is a man who cut off part of his own ear – what if that was not the full story?

Back in Paris, Vincent’s friends mourn his early demise, but they may have bigger problems of their own, problems perhaps related to Van Gogh’s death. Baker and artist Lucien Lessard has recently been reunited with the woman who broke his heart years earlier, and now he is painting better than he ever has before. His family and friends – particularly the artist Toulouse-Lautrec – realize that something isn’t entirely right. There’s something strange about Juliette, not least the strange little man with whom she seems to live, a man who may be the same mysterious Colorman Vincent wrote about before his death.

In Sacre Bleu, Christopher Moore mixes color theory and science with the art of the Impressionists and his own unique brand of humor and creativity to creative a bizarrely fascinating book. Juliette, it seems, it not Juliette but the incarnation of the sacred color of blue who can inhabit different bodies in order to inspire great art, although not for disinterested reasons.

Moore’s characters are, at times, more concerned with sex, drugs, and alcohol than even art and one another, but they still manage to be engaging, and even occasionally sympathetic. The characters and language also tend to be somewhat modern, instead of being properly 19th century. However, Sacre Bleu is not really meant to be proper historical fiction, it is simply a story Moore is telling about blue/Bleu, which is framed with the French Impressionists. In addition, Bleu and the Colorman are largely outside of time, which makes the modern feeling somewhat more understandable.

Sacre Bleu tells a somewhat unconventional story, and in a manner that is uniquely Christopher Moore. His humor will definitely not appeal to every reader, but if it works for you, you will find yourself enthralled what he has put together in Sacre Bleu. Highly recommended (with reservations).

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