Picture a group of men sitting at a cafe table in Paris in the second half of the 1800’s, smoking, laughing and discussing their desires to someday get their work noticed by the art world, and it could be historically accurate to label those men as Cezanne, Degas, Renoir, Pissarro, Manet, Bazille, and my personal favorite, Monet. Before their paintings spurred the Impressionism movement, they were the very definition of “struggling artists,” living in poverty and desperate for recognition.
Stephanie Cowell’s new novel, Claude & Camille, vividly brings this world to life, weaving history with dramatization, and giving readers an intimate perspective on the personal life of one of history’s most beloved artists. Monet featured Camille Doncieux as the subject of several paintings in his early years, notably Camille (The Woman in the Green Dress) and Women in the Garden, and the story of their relationship, begun and sustained without family support, swept me away. I found the writing beautiful, with a palpable intensity of the pressure Monet and his contemporary artists undoubtedly felt as they struggled to express themselves through their art, while barely able to support themselves or their families. The love portrayed between Claude and Camille is complicated and often fraught with worry about their growing debt and inconsistent housing, a life of constant change and insecurity. They loved each other, but they also failed each other at times, as well, as people often do.
Just as much of the art of this time can be described in terms of its sensuality, Monet’s intimate life is depicted in the novel through some scenes that are more detailed than some readers may be comfortable with. Personally, I didn’t find the descriptions to be overwhelming, but fitting with the lifestyle and time period in which Monet lived.
As much as I enjoyed the central story of Monet’s relationship with Camille, I anxiously awaited each scene that featured Monet’s friendships and interactions with the other artists who would become historical figures in the Impressionism movement, and since I’ve always felt a particular fondness for this genre, I was filled with amazement to imagine these geniuses and their time together.
Fans of historical fiction, and especially readers who hold a special place in their hearts for the artwork of Claude Monet, will want to get a copy of Claude & Camille in their hands. Their life’s story, full of love, through struggles and successes, makes for a wonderful read and what I anticipate will be a successful novel.
I’m happy to share the wonder of Monet’s life in this piece of historical fiction in this week’s giveaway. Please leave a comment here to be entered (U.S. residents only, please), and three readers will receive a copy of Claude & Camille. We’ll announce the winners in April 7th’s giveaway review post.
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Dawn desperately wants to believe that her soul lived in some form in Paris in the late 1800’s. The journal that she would have inevitably kept would have been the precursor to the blog she writes in this life at my thoughts exactly.
This review, and others from the week, are linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books. Check it out!
Melissa B. says
My mom would like this book, she’s a painter.
Winning Readings says
I’d love to read this!
janemaritz at yahoo dot com
This sounds like a good inspiring/motivating read for summer.
Marc K says
I’m certainly interested in reading this.
Ed Nemmers says
Sounds like something I would like to read.
As an artist, I am all too familiar with the ‘starving artist’ scenario. I’m also a fan of historical fiction. Thanks for the giveaway.
Looks great! Thanks for the giveaway!
Amanda S. says
Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the chance to win! 🙂
This is a book I would have never considered, Now it looks interesting. Please enter me in the giveaway!!!
Pamela S says
I love historical fiction and Monet, so this book should be a winner for me. Thanks.
sounds like a good book Thanks
Historical Fiction is my favorite genre add Monet interesting combination gla
kathy pease says
Thank you for the Great giveaway please count me in 🙂
Sarah Stern says
Sounds like a great addition to my nightstand pile!
I would really love to read about Monet in a historical fiction piece!
Susan Smith says
Sounds like a good book
Maja Meza says
sounds soo good
This sounds like such an interesting book, thanks for the giveaway!
Sharon Fairclough says
I would to add this book to my summer reading shelf, sounds like a great read. Thanks for the giveaway
sharr1226 at yahoo dot com
I think that this sounds like a really good read.
I’d love to read this book! It sounds lovely.
Joseph Ford says
Sounds like an interesting book!
Lily Kwan says
Please enter me into the contest. Thanks!
Would love to read this. Thanks
I love novels with historical references.
Marcy Strahan says
I remember watching a movie about Vincent & his brother Cleo where as they touched on the life of his friend & sometimes rival Monet! I would be beyond thrilled to learn more of his story!