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Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 3, 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 575 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Exclusive: Christopher Moore on Writing Sacre Bleu

I suppose it started when I learned the circumstances of the suicide of Vincent van Gogh; how he had finished a painting, then walked into a corn field and shot himself, and not in the manner one thinks of a suicide. He shot himself in the abdomen, then walked over a mile on a rough trail through the woods above the village of Auvers, France, to the home of his friend, Doctor Gachet, for help. It seemed clear to me that this was not the behavior of a suicidal man. (Particularly when you see how well he was painting at the time.) Vincent had been murdered, and for some reason, I guess from looking at his paintings, I thought that the color blue might be a clue to the circumstances of his murder.

So I decided to write a novel about the color blue.

When it first occurred to me, I had no idea what a can of paint of I was opening. I’ve written historical novels before, but I’d always picked periods and stories that had huge blank spots in them, spots that I could fill in with my story. But I was about to write about the period in which the French Impressionists rose to prominence, and unlike the life of Jesus or the court of King Lear, where very little was known about what actually happened, I could pretty much look up what each of the Impressionists had for breakfast every morning. It was a curse of riches. There was more material than I could ever cover in a single story, unless I found a way to constrain it.

So, to pursue my murder mystery, my tale of an art movement, my portrayal of the Bell Epoch in Paris, I had to find a point of view that would help me cover the time period, from 1863 to 1891 and beyond, so I invented, Lucien Lessard, the baker of Montmartre, Paris—the baker who wants to be a painter, whose father was a patron of Monet, Renoir, and Cezanne when they were at their poorest, and who attended art school with Vincent van Gogh and his best friend, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. Lucien and Henri would be my detectives, and with them, we would discover not only Vincent’s killer, but the secret and magic behind the mysterious shade of “sacred blue” (Sacré Bleu), and how it had inspired and haunted artists all through history.

Four years after the notion first occurred to me, I turned in the manuscript to Sacré Bleu, and I think it is what I had hoped it could be: a mystery, a fantasy, a romance, a comedy, a history, and an appreciation. I didn’t have an art education going into this book, but I certainly do coming out, and I hope that the reader will painlessly and joyfully, share some of the enthusiasm I have for the subject.

Or, as it says in the prelude:

“Blue is glory and power, a wave, a particle, a vibration, a resonance, a spirit, a passion, a memory, a vanity, a metaphor, a dream.

Blue is a simile.

Blue, she is like a woman.”


“I can’t emphasize enough how funny BITE ME is.” (Bookreporter.com)

“[H]ilarious, educational, and original. . . . [I]t is difficult to put the book down, for there are astonishing new developments on every page.” (BookPage)

“A page-turner…. Your ‘Lear’ can be rusty or completely unread to appreciate this new perspective on the Shakespearean tragedy. That is if you enjoy a whole lot of silly behind the scenes of your tragedies.” (Valdosta Times (Georgia) on FOOL)

“If there’s a funnier writer out there, step forward.” (Playboy)

“[W]all-to-wall, farcical fornicating and fighting…a jolly good time can be had.” (Booklist on FOOL)

“A laugh-a-page novel that’s raunchy and irreverent.” (USA Today)

“A raunchy slapstick comedy of young vampires in love . . . Moore is in top form, and this reviewer laughed all the way through this page-turner. Enthusiastically recommended.” (Library Journal)

“A vampire comedy that’s witty, bright and funny.” (People)

“An instant classic . . . terrific, funny and poignant. (Rocky Mountain News)

“Funny, literate, smart and sexy, all at once!” (Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter series, on FOOL)

“In transforming “King Lear” into a potty-mouthed jape, Moore is up to more than thumbing his nose at a masterpiece. His version of Shakespeare’s Fool, who accompanies Lear on his slide from paternal arrogance to spiritual desolation in the original text, simultaneously honors and imaginatively enriches the character.” (San Francisco Chronicle on FOOL)

“It’s hard to resist so gleeful a tale of murder, witchcraft, treason, maiming, and spanking. . . . Moore’s deft ear for dialogue keeps the pages turning . . . Fool is a wickedly good time.” (Christian Science Monitor on FOOL)

“Less may be more, but it isn’t Moore. Wretched excess doth have power to charm, and there are great reeking oodles of it strewn throughout these irreverent pages.” (Kirkus Reviews on FOOL)

“Moore has produced eight books that deftly blend surreal, occult and even science-fiction doings with laugh-out-loud satire of contemporary culture. Powered by engines of the abnormal and unlikely, his tales feature eccentric lowlifes who find their desperate existences hilariously remade by intrusions from other spheres.” (Washington Post Book World)

“Moore is a very clever boy when it comes to words. There are good chuckles to be had in this tale. …Whether you need to read the original King Lear before you read Moore’s Fool is debatable. Seems a fool’s errand to us. Just enjoy.” (USA Today on FOOL)

“Moore turns things on their head with an edgy 21st-century perspective that makes the story line as sharp, surly and slick as a game of Grand Theft Auto… It’s a manic, masterly mix-winning, wild and something today’s groundlings will applaud.” (Publishers Weekly on FOOL)

“Often funny, sometimes hilarious, always inventive, this is a book for all, especially uptight English teachers, bardolaters and ministerial students of the kind who come to our doorstep on Saturday mornings.” (Dallas Morning News on FOOL)

“Mingling comedy and mystery, Moore crafts an intricate story that teases the reader with numerous twists and bawdy humor.…[T]his is an imaginative and amusing look at the Impressionist era, and Moore’s prose is fresh and engaging.” (Booklist on SACRE BLEU)

“Art history is playfully--and perilously--rewrtitten in this ambitious novel....fans of Moore’s mix of wit and slapstick will be pleased.” (Publishers Weekly on SACRE BLEU)

“Moore’s humor is, as ever, sweetly juvenile, but his arty comedy also captures the courage and rebellion of the Impressionists with an exultant joie de vivre.” (Kirkus Reviews on SACRE BLEU)

“[A]surprisingly complex novel full of love, death, art, and mystery....Don’t let Moore’s quirky characters and bawdy language fool you. His writing has depth, and his peculiar take on the impressionists will reel you in....this is a worthy read. ” (Library Journal (starred review) on SACRE BLEU)

“[A] marvelous, tongue-in-cheek, mythical explanation of the artistic urge... brought vividly to life.” (The Oregonian (Portland) on SACRE BLEU)

“Can Moore find the funny in gloomy Van Gogh? If anybody can-can, count on Moore.” (USA Today on SACRE BLEU)

“Sacré Bleu is a consistently compelling blend of love story, mystery, and ‘what if?’ art history lesson.” (Entertainment Weekly on SACRE BLEU)

“Captivating . . . Those familiar with Moore’s work will love this rich story, which is full of gleefully anachronistic behavior and language--often pun-based--coming from artists we ordinarily revere.” (Houston Chronicle on SACRE BLEU)

“[A] delightfully ribald romp.” (Washington Post Book World on Sacre Bleu)

“The true joy in Sacré Bleu stems from Moore’s writing....His writing contains the rare combination of poetry and humor; where one moment you find yourself rereading a passage for its sublime imagery, and the next, you are grinning over a well-placed wisecrack....an excellent novel.” (Dallas News on Sacre Bleu)

“[A]nother exceedingly bizarre, often raucous, and consistently delightful journey into the sweetly demented mind of novelist Christopher Moore.” (Philadelphia Inquirer on SACRE BLEU)

Sacre Bleu is big fun.” (St. Paul Pioneer Press on SACRE BLEU)

“Christopher Moore’s new novel blends diligently researched art history smoothly with his fevered, fiendish imagination.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on SACRE BLEU)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061779741
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061779749
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (575 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Maine Colonial TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
That's how Christopher Moore characterizes Sacré Bleu. It's also a mystery, a comedy and a dizzying, dazzling trip through the art world of fin-de-siecle Paris.

I read somewhere that every single one of Christopher Moore's books has been optioned but not one has ever made it to film. I think it must be because producers eventually realize that it's just too much of a challenge to translate the sheer lunacy and demented sweetness of Moore's books to the screen.

The book begins on the day of Vincent Van Gogh's death in Auvers, a village near Paris. Vincent has gone to a crossroads to paint. The history is that Van Gogh there shot himself, then walked a mile to the home of his doctor to seek treatment. Moore wondered if it made any sense that an artist at the height of his powers, even one as tormented as Van Gogh, would shoot himself at that point. And then, why would he walk a mile to his doctor's place rather than just lie down and die? Moore appoints baker-turned-painter Lucien Lessard, and famed painter and libertine Henri Toulouse-Lautrec as his alter-ego detectives to pursue the answer to this puzzle. The pursuit involves Renoir, Manet, Monet, Whistler, Pissarro, Gaugin, Seurat, a menacing character called the Colorman, the artists' muses, a few side trips through time and space, and lots and lots about the color blue.

It's been a long time since I read a book in one afternoon, but once I started reading, I couldn't stop. Now, here I sit with my eyes burning and my head filled with whirling images of the adventures of the naive young Lucien and his usually drunk and lubricious but always endearing friend, Toulouse-Lautrec.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Set primarily in Montmartre, Paris in the 1890s, this is a book about artists, muses and the color blue. Of course, being written by Christopher Moore, you can expect everything to be skewed to the absurd, a bit bawdy, irreverent and playful. Moore inhabits his book with figures real (Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Pissarro, Van Gogh, Monet, Manet and Renoir) and unreal (Bleu--a body-jumping muse, the Colorman--a gnome who can create the otherwordly shade of blue known as Scare Bleu, and Lucien Lessard, a baker/painter who is obsessed with Juliette).

While reading, I was always curious about what was real and what wasn't. Perhaps the most interesting part of the book for me was Moore's Afterword ("So, Now You've Ruined Art), which provided a breakdown of what was based on fact and what wasn't. Surprisingly, quite a bit of "realness" snuck into a book that is quite fanciful and absurd. It was interesting to learn that Monet really did paint his wife Camille on her deathbed, the puzzling circumstances of Vincent Van Gogh's death, and the ungodly amount of artists who died of syphilis. Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed were the images of the real paintings that are discussed and play a role in the book. I thought it was an ingenious way to make art history come alive in a way that would even seem palatable to ... say ... teenage boys.

However, I just didn't fall in love with the book (despite my deep and abiding adoration of several of Moore's other books). Part of it was the goofy sophomoric humor that runs throughout the book (I guess boobie and penis jokes just don't do it for me) and the other part was the fractured nature of the tale that just didn't draw me in.
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Format: Hardcover
The quote above isn't from Christopher Moore's Sacré Bleu, but is rather from Stephen Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park with George," a musical about the painter Georges Seurat. These lyrics were like a soundtrack in my head as I read Moore's latest:

Piece by piece-
Only way to make a work of art.
Every moment makes a contribution,
Every little detail plays a part.
Having just a vision's no solution,
Everything depends on execution;
Putting it together-
That's what counts!

Sondheim could as easily have been speaking about writing--and let's face it, he was. Christopher Moore's latest is indeed a work of art, in more ways than one. The first thing the reader will notice is the extraordinary look and design of this gorgeous novel. It's something so rarely seen these days, but in the not too distant past, bookbinding was its own art form. Kudos to HarperCollins for making this book so special! It's covered in a metallic blue half dust jacket that allows the exotic, erotic painting printed right on the book's cover to peek through. The endpapers feature a vintage map of Paris. The book has a lovely layout, and the text is--yes--printed in a rich indigo blue. And within, there are full color reproductions of dozens of paintings by the Impressionist masters who are the characters of this novel. It's odd to spend this much time discussing the outside of a book, but that's how fabulous this one is. And I have heard that only the first edition hardback will be printed in full color, so I would suggest grabbing a copy fast.

As for the story, that's a little more difficult to summarize this time around.
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