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Vincent van Gogh
Are you a longtime fan of Vincent van Gogh? If so, you’re a step ahead of me. I’ve always loved art and haunted museums, but until I wrote Leaving Van Gogh I could walk past Vincent’s paintings with only a passing glance.
Even now I’m a little bit surprised that I’ve written a novel about him. I came across Dr. Paul Gachet while I was researching my master’s thesis in art history, back in 2005. Gachet was a doctor who treated mental illness in Paris in the late 19th century, and was also a friend of many of the great painters of the era. He seemed like a terrific subject for a novel. I thought I’d write about his collection of paintings, many of which ended up at the Musée d’Orsay.
And what happened? Vincent van Gogh hijacked the narrative. As I was writing, Vincent walked into Dr. Gachet’s sitting room in Auvers, France, a village northwest of Paris. He put down his portable easel and paint box, and started to talk. The focus of the novel shifted from the doctor’s pictures to the painter’s pain. Well, you can understand why. We novelists are looking for drama. We need pressure and conflict. Vincent van Gogh, in May of 1890, was a man under terrible strain. He wanted more than anything else to paint. But he had been mentally ill, confined to an asylum for a year, and he knew that he was still menaced by his demons. That, obviously, was my story.
But before I could write the whole book I needed to do a lot of research. When it became clear that Vincent was going to be the star of the show, I started to read his letters and that is how my affection for him took root. He was such a stoic. He endured such anguish, and scarcely complained. He believed in his art when only his brother Theo and Dr. Gachet shared his enthusiasm. He wrote to Theo, “It is my earnest hope that I am not working for myself alone.” He never knew how much he would matter to us all.
Dr. Gachet’s side of the story fascinated me, too. It was a period before doctors had many tools to deal with mental illness, but Gachet took a humane and sympathetic stance toward his patients. A man who had always been fascinated by melancholy, he was in some ways the ideal physician for Van Gogh. He was certainly one of Vincent’s greatest fans, even after the painter’s death.
Well told story of the last month's of Van Gogh 's life. Anyone who loves Van Gogh 's work, or art history will enjoy this book.Published 19 days ago by Raymond Signorello
The author took me to the countryside of France. This was the peaceful setting where VanGogh's mind was torn apart by mental illness. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Mgorham
The book follows the final year or so of Vincent Van Gogh's life. We learn about Van Gogh's mental illness as well as his painting process. Read morePublished 11 months ago by A. Mencke
Although this was historical fiction, there was still a lot of true history and I learned a lot about Van Gogh, his painting style, his family, as well as something about the... Read morePublished 13 months ago by avid reader
would rather read the real story or at least a better account of the likely story. Too fanciful for such a well-known artist.Published 15 months ago by Donna L. Doberstein
Excellent topic. Well written and easy to follow. Even though the story was fiction, there was much fact in the book. I liked learning more about this famous painter.Published 15 months ago by L. Nixon
Clearly the author did a great deal of research to make the story real. I learned a lot more about Van Gogh and was inspired to get on the net and study his paintings. Read morePublished 16 months ago by jane m uyemura
Van Goghs paintings come to life from the passionate source that inspired his vision of the world.The turmoil of his madness is expressed in the technique of his unique and... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Mrs L N Karp
My book group put this on our list & I was skeptical that there was anything new to learn about Van Gogh. Read morePublished 19 months ago by BikeWoman