From Publishers Weekly
Behind every great artist stands a woman driving him to inspiration, aspiration, and desperation, according to Cowell (Marrying Mozart
), who bases her latest novel about an artist and his muse on the life of Claude Monet. Beautiful bourgeoise Camille Doncieux leaves her family and fiancé for Monet, whom Cowell depicts early on as a rebellious young man trying to capture in his paintings fleeting moments of color and light before he matures into the troubled genius whose talent exceeds his income. In an art world resistant to change, Camille remains Monet's great love as he and fellow unknowns Renoir, Pissarro, and Bazille struggle to make ends meet, but, eventually, parenthood, financial pressure, long separations, career frustrations, and romantic distractions take their toll, and even after Monet finally achieves commercial success, the couple still faces considerable difficulty. While glimpses of great men at work make absorbing reading, it's Camille who gives this story its heart. A convincing narrative about how masterpieces are created and a detailed portrait of a complex couple, Cowell's novel suggests that a fabulous, if flawed, love is the source of both the beauty and sadness of Monet's art. (Apr.)
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When art student Claude Monet glimpses a fetching girl at the train station en route to Paris, it is, as they say, love at first sight. When he tracks Camille Doncieux down months later and convinces her to become his model, it is an embarrassment of riches. The two become lovers, but because starving artists have always been deemed poor husband material, Camille’s family mightily objects to the affair, just as Monet’s father vehemently opposes his son’s career. The couple finds solace in the company of Monet’s fellow aspiring painters: Renoir, Pissaro, and Bazille chief among them. While commercial and critical success elude him, Monet’s love for Camille eventually succumbs to the forces of physical and financial ruin. The connection between artist and muse potentially offers a rich trove for authors, and Cowell mines the tempestuous relationship of Monet and his romantic and artistic inspiration with a nimble and discerning command as she indelibly evokes the lush demimonde of nineteenth-century Paris. --Carol Haggas