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).

Buy this book from:
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Source: Publisher.
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Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell – Giveaway

Just under a year ago, I read a beautiful historical novel about the love between Claude Monet and his muse and first wife, Camille. Not only did it tell a beautiful love story and give insight into the life of Claude Monet and his rise to fame, but it also gave me a context I had previously lacked for the Impressionist movement.

My review

Stephanie also wrote a very interesting guest post last year about how to piece together an historical novel.

Stephanie’s guest post

If you are someone who likes to wait for things to come to paperback before buying, now’s your chance!

Powells* | Indiebound* | Amazon

I have five copies to giveaway to readers with US mailing addresses, mailed by the publisher. Enter by the end of the day on Friday, April 1.

*These are affiliate links
This giveaway is sponsored by the publisher.

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Researching and writing a historical novel: bringing all the pieces together – Guest Post by Stephanie Cowell, Author of “Claude and Camille”

Giveaway closed

It begins with an utter fascination for a place, a time, an historical person: something that will not let you go. Claude and Camille began when I visited an art exhibition of the early works of the impressionists. I stood before one of Claude Monet’s paintings of a stormy seacoast and a weary horse making its way down the sand, and said “What sort of intense man painted that?” I was fascinated by the friendship between the young artists, all then unknown, and thought, “Who were the women who were close to them?”  Who loved this sexy, dark-eyed young Monet?

The idea for a novel begins perhaps with a few lines on paper and after a time grows into scenes and sections. Characters and place begin to emerge. And then the writer has the most passionate desire in the world to know every single thing about her historical characters and their times. When I first began to write historical fiction you spent long days in research libraries and haunted used bookshops. Since the internet you can find all sorts of information, or almost any old book, or find access to scholars who can help you.

I ended up buying sixty books on impressionism and Paris and reading and reading and haunting several art museums and walking the streets of Paris that Claude Monet walked and traveling to Giverny. You take all that research and combine imagination with it. The most challenging part for me is plotting the events which lead the characters to the last pages. Eventually you have a full novel and hopefully one good enough that an editor will offer to buy it.

The editor works with your novel, giving suggestions to strengthen it. Often a writer knows so much about her world and characters that she does not realize some of it is still in her head and not on the page. And of course friends have also read it and commented on how it could be strengthened. After that, the copy-editor points out that your heroine’s hair changes color from page 36 to page 94!

But when it is all proofed and printed between the covers with an evocative jacket, the writer hopefully has created a world for readers to enter and live in, a world deep and true and real which may take them on a remarkable journey to places and people all over time.

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