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Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 3, 2012
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It is the color of the Virgin Mary's cloak, a dazzling pigment desired by artists, an exquisite hue infused with danger, adventure, and perhaps even the supernatural. It is . . .
In July 1890, Vincent van Gogh went into a cornfield and shot himself. Or did he? Why would an artist at the height of his creative powers attempt to take his own life . . . and then walk a mile to a doctor's house for help? Who was the crooked little "color man" Vincent had claimed was stalking him across France? And why had the painter recently become deathly afraid of a certain shade of blue?
These are just a few of the questions confronting Vincent's friendsbaker-turned-painter Lucien Lessard and bon vivant Henri Toulouse-Lautrecwho vow to discover the truth about van Gogh's untimely death. Their quest will lead them on a surreal odyssey and brothel-crawl deep into the art world of late nineteenth-century Paris.
Oh lÀ lÀ, quelle surprise, and zut alors! A delectable confection of intrigue, passion, and art historywith cancan girls, baguettes, and fine French cognac thrown in for good measureSacrÉ Bleu is another masterpiece of wit and wonder from the one, the only, Christopher Moore.
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What a wonderful treat this book was! Being both a painter AND an author of a series that starts out during the same bohemian art era as this book takes place in, I long for fiction that uses the era of Impressionism as its backdrop - and that is extremely difficult to find. When a good friend of mine told me she had just read this book it took me about 2 seconds to download it. I wasn't disappoined, not even for one minute.
All of the famous painters that were mentioned and had roles in this story came to clear life and immersed me into my favorite period in history. I have often wished I could go back to that era and for awhile Mr. Moore allowed me to live there. Readers who are expecting stuffy history will be greatly disappointed. These artists were anything but stuffy! Their dialog is rough, sexual, and funny, also he didn't try to make them "sound" nineteenth century, which I appreciated, since the artists WERE ahead of their time.
Lucien and his family were so well developed and funny that every day on my treadmill found me laughing out loud at times. What a pleasure it was to read their interactions! Poopstick (The Colorman) and the muse (most often Juliette) became so real that by the time I was finished I was almost convinced they actually existed. And who's to say they didn't? And, by the way, Lucien was so likable that he soon felt like my best friend.
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (who most of us know was a real person) had a main role in the story and I loved the artistic freedom the author took with this artist, making him a funny,interesting man that brought a smile to my lips with every encounter. (One of the revviewers was offended with his portrayal, saying because of his deformed body it was a fact that he couldn't perform sexually. She would do well do relearn her art history, as Henri died of syphillis.It was also a well known rumor that he had enlarged sexual organs.)
So many other famous artists, along with Theo van Gogh, Vincent's brother and art dealer, Tanguey (the art supply dealer) have brief parts in this story. As a painter I just can't say enough wonderful things about this all too brief jounrey into the great decadent bohemian Montmarte during the late nineteenth century.
Very cool. Thank you for this fabulous story. I didn't want it to end!
For anyone who appreciates the Impressionist and Paris - this is a must read. The book opens with Vincent Van Gogh's suicide in Auvers, France, July 1890.
We're then introduced to the protagonist, Lucien Lessard, a contemporary painter and Van Goh's friend - who also happens to own a bakery in Montmartre, where all the Impressionist meet to socialize.
We soon discover that Lucien's muse, Juliette, is missing and Lucien is heartbroken. All of a sudden, Juliette reappears in Lucien's life and totally consumes Lucien to the point where he almost dies from his association to this woman. Henri Toulouse Latrec, Lucien's friend and fellow painter, associates Juliette with all the other muses of all the Impressionists that frequent Montmartre.
Come to find out, Juliette is a slave of the Colorman - a shady character that mixes the blue color that must be used by a Catholic decree when the Virgin Mary is painted - or the sacré bleu - and through this color the Colorman can stop time so that the painters can produce more colors.
As it turns out, the muse is reincarnated in different women used to make the painters use the blue color in creating their work. The Colorman then uses the paintings created with the bleu to extend both his life and the Muse's life. They've been around since the dawn of civilization, reincarnating again and again, and causing harm to all the artists they manipulate.
Bleu falls in love with Lucien, so along with Toulouse Latrec they conspire to kill the immortal Colorman and free Bleu to be with Lucien.
Obviously, in doing so, they discover the true cause of Van Gogh's death.
This was a pleasure to read. The reader is immersed in the late nineteenth century neighborhood of Montmarte and we get to know each of the Impressionists personal lives and vices. I loved the book and would recommend it to anyone with an interest ion Patios or an interest in the Impressionist movement.
Re-read the book while awaiting heart surgery; when I woke up I was in 19th century Paris with Monet, Renoir, and Toulouse-Lautrec. Quite a memorable emergence from anesthesia!!
Moore is a really good writer, his descriptions are wonderful and witty and I loved the premise of this book. One of my favourite parts is Claude Monet painting his series in Gare Saint Lazare, and the wonderfully weird way it happens. The unfolding of the plot had me captivated from the beginning and kept me interested to the very last page. Although this is the first Christopher Moore book I have read, I will look for others by the same author just to see how it stacks up.