Christopher Moore decided he wanted to write a book about the color blue. The result is his latest novel, Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art, which takes place in Montmarte in Paris during the late 19th century, and begins with the death of Vincent Van Gogh, with the premise that Van Gogh did not in fact commit suicide, but was murdered.
Lucien Lessard is a baker and painter. He is in love with a woman named Juliette, who has suddenly returned after leaving him, and friends with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Lucien and Henri are both are suspicious about the facts around Vincent’s supposed suicide. Through flashbacks to Lucien’s childhood and current events, we meet the Colorman, a strange little man who pushes his blue paint onto the painters, and his sidekick, a woman who takes the form of a different models for each painter. It gets a bit confusing, and to explain more would give away the plot, but suffice it to say she’s nude a lot.
I’ve been a bit ambivalent about writing up this book, but I know there are a lot of Christopher Moore fans out there who may be waiting to read an honest review. The first half of the book was somewhat difficult to get through and if I hadn’t read and loved Moore’s other books I would have given up. Moore’s trademark dry wit is present throughout the book, infusing modern-day references and situations that couldn’t possibly exist in 1800’s France with real events of the time, and it’s a big reason I did push on. Sacre Bleu is littered with Impressionist and post-Impressionist painters and paintings (and helpfully includes pictures of many of the paintings mentioned) and one amusing reference to the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. And it also includes a supernatural element.
I would recommend this novel to those intimately familiar with the art world and established fans of Moore’s work. If you’re new to his novels and unfamiliar with his style, and not easily offended, I would point you to Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, arguably his best and most popular novel, or Fool, which is the story of King Lear told from the point of view of the fool (which I have not read but have heard good things about).
Nancy was happy to have an art major husband when she was trying to figure out what was truth and what was fiction in this novel. She writes about her 2 boys, books and life in Colorado at Life With My Boys and Books.