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“diamondgirl said: 4 stars
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“Loved it, any stories of that era in France, I love!”TeriY wrote this review Tuesday, July 23, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Read for my book club.”Shanti Lotus wrote this review Saturday, June 29, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I knew next to nothing about the Impressionist painters. This book provides an interesting look into their lives.”Karen K - Ohio wrote this review Tuesday, May 21, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This historical fiction/historical romance about Claude Monet and his wife Camillle had a bit of a slow start for me, but in the end, I enjoyed it. It describes Monet as struggling artist with great love and passion for Camille and his painting. He hangs with other impressionist artists as they all struggle, and they eventually are recognized as Impressionists. It was a little unbelievable for me, as well as repetetive, in the first half, as Monet would love Camille, then leave Camille, then love Camille, then leave Camille.... but the second half picks up and I flew through it. I am glad I finished it, as it was a satisfying read in the end. And I learned a bit about Paris in the mid 19th century and where the artists roamed. I'm looking forward to recognizing some of the locations when I travel to Paris this summer; and although I have heard that Giverny/Monet's garden is not a "must see", I might have to add it to our itinerary - I will definitely have a different perspective from many tourists, after reading this novel.
“Such great historical fiction. Imagine all of those impressionist painters hanging out together as young men, trying to find success with their art. Amazing to imagine. This was such a love story, yet full of the angst and tribulations that come with a life of poverty and struggle. ”Penny S wrote this review Friday, June 15, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Sometimes he dreamt he held her; that he would turn in bed and she would be there. But she was gone and he was old. Nearly seventy. Only cool paint met his fingers. “Ma très chère . . .” Darkness started to fall, dimming the paintings. He felt the crumpled letter in his pocket. “I loved you so,” he said. “I never would have had it turn out as it did. You were with all of us when we began, you gave us courage. These gardens at Giverny are for you but I’m old and you’re forever young and will never see them. . . .” In the mid-nineteenth century, a young man named Claude Monet decided that he would rather endure a difficult life painting landscapes than take over his father’s nautical supplies business in a French seaside town. Against his father’s will, and with nothing but a dream and an insatiable urge to create a new style of art that repudiated the Classical Realism of the time, he set off for Paris. But once there he is confronted with obstacles: an art world that refused to validate his style, extreme poverty, and a war that led him away from his home and friends. But there were bright spots as well: his deep, enduring friendships with men named Renoir, Cézanne, Pissarro, Manet – a group that together would come to be known as the Impressionists, and that supported each other through the difficult years. But even more illuminating was his lifelong love, Camille Doncieux, a beautiful, upper-class Parisian girl who threw away her privileged life to be by the side of the defiant painter and embrace the lively Bohemian life of their time. His muse, his best friend, his passionate lover, and the mother to his two children, Camille stayed with Monet—and believed in his work—even as they lived in wretched rooms, were sometimes kicked out of those, and often suffered the indignities of destitution. She comforted him during his frequent emotional torments, even when he would leave her for long periods to go off on his own to paint in the countryside. But Camille had her own demons – secrets that Monet could never penetrate, including one that when eventually revealed would pain him so deeply that he would never fully recover from its impact. For though Camille never once stopped loving the painter with her entire being, she was not immune to the loneliness that often came with being his partner. A vividly-rendered portrait of both the rise of Impressionism and of the artist at the center of the movement, Claude and Camille is above all a love story of the highest romantic order.”Verna L wrote this review Friday, June 1, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This was a good book. I like the take on the painter, Monet.”Pat K wrote this review Saturday, March 24, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“In this highly fictionlaized, and sympathetic, account of Monet's life and the muse that inspired his greatest work, Cowell imagines the life and circumstances surrounding Monet and his contemporaries known as the Society of Anonymous Artists that brought life to a new movement, Impressionism. Cowell traces the cycles of the artists' lives from the stereotypical "starving artist" to a time when a request to stop the trains in order to paint them would be granted, giving the reader a glimpse into the artistic soul that is willing to live on the brink of existence.
I really struggled with rating this book. In my opinion, the writing is mediocre, but more than that,
I took issue with Cowell's, at least admitedly, imagined indiscretions between Camille and Bazille. Based on the type of friendship that is so well documented between Bazille and Monet this was a stretch for me. I understand the inspiration for the novel came from Cowell pondering what would cause Bazille to join the fight in the Franco-Prussian War. I didn't care for this choice.
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So, I settled on four stars for purely emotional reasons. Art history was a major part of my education growing up and I have always been intrigued by the lives of these artists. It was simply fun imagining it with Cowell. Sometimes it is ok to read things simply for fun. I have always had a special affinity for Renoir and came away loving him even more. I did feel like Cowell captured the essence of these young artists and the challenges they faced as they focused on a new way of presenting art. A good example is the quote found on page 74, "When will the people ever see that good art is living and real, intimate, not grand? That real beauty is ordinary life?" I also thougth Cowell did a good job of presenting the stories surrounding Monet's most famous work.”
“Fairly well written with interesting conjectures considering how little information remains about Camille. However, my irritation with Claude's self-centered and diva-like personality keeps me from truly appreciating the book.”Ann Y wrote this review Tuesday, January 3, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No