From Publishers Weekly
Richman (The Mask Carver's Son
; Swedish Tango
) speculates in her third novel that Vincent Van Gogh found his muse in the 21-year-old daughter of his last doctor. Marguerite Gachet, accustomed to her father's revolving door of artist patients (Cezanne, Pissarro, Bernard among them), finds herself enamored of the disheveled Van Gogh ("a rare blend of vulnerability and bravado") shortly after his arrival at her father's home in Auvers, where Van Gogh undergoes treatment for his manifold illnesses. Though Marguerite is little more than a servant to her father, a failed painter turned physician who prides himself to an absurd extent on his art collection, she manages, with the help of her cloistered half-sister, to begin a covert flirtation with Van Gogh. Between sitting—thrice—for Van Gogh and carrying on her household duties, Marguerite uncovers a family secret and has a clandestine rendezvous with the painter. Though Marguerite's frustrated love is carefully rendered, other characters are mostly memorable for their quirks (her father, the failed painter; her brother, the goofy sycophant; her half-sister, the gold-hearted sage). The climax may be a bit breathless, but, then again, Van Gogh isn't remembered for his subtlety. (Oct.)
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Vincent van Gogh ends his life in a French village under the care of Dr. Gachet, who treats his patients and himself with holistic concoctions of herbs. Gachet's daughter, Marguerite, lives a circumscribed life of domestic duties in a rather peculiar household. She finds joy in her garden and her music and, upon the arrival of Van Gogh, the excitement that his presence brings. To her father's dismay, she is the one the painter seeks as a model, rather than her more favored brother. Marguerite serves as narrator, and though unschooled and naive, her passion and clarity shine through. She finds love, but it is not destined for a happy ending. Marguerite does achieve a sort of immortality through Van Gogh's portraits of her, but except for the secret that she holds close, her life is lonely and bereft. Richman captures the flavor of the period and the nature of her characters in a story that will appeal to many. Danise HooverCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved