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!
Sandra K321 says
It’s hard to think of Monet as a struggling artist, but I guess he had to start somewhere. I used to have his posters in my dorm room in college because they were so beautiful and peaceful (along with MC Escher). I would love to read the book. Thanks.
I would love to read this! Thanks for the chance!
This sounds like a book I’d love to read!
Benita G. says
What an awesome giveaway! Please count me in.
Linda Kish says
II have always loved Monet’s work and would enjoy reading about his life.
lkish77123 at gmail dot com
After reading it, I know the perfect person to give this to–my mother. She loves Monet, and I think she’ll actually read it! Been trying to get her to read for a long time. She’s read a few. I’m an avid reader, so I’m encouraging her to read. Please enter me. desertrose5173 at gmail dot com Thanks!
Sounds like a great read!
melissa n says
awesome giveaway! sounds like a great read 🙂
Page Turner (Heather) says
Ooooohhh! I love Monet’s art, and I’d love to read more of the story behind the man, even in fictionalized form.
Some Lucky Dog says
I love Monet’s paintings. It’s be interesting to know more about his life…
It sounds like a very interesting book. I would like to read it.
Amber Gibson says
I’ve never thought about art history like this before – I would love to win!
Mary Ward says
This sounds like a book that I would love to get into.
Kirsten T. says
I loved taking art history classes, so i definitely want to read this!
Nanci K says
I love historical books. I need a new book to read.
Ann F says
This sounds like an interesting book that I’d like to read. Please enter me in the giveaway.
I would love a chance to win. Thank you.
Beth C says
Please enter me for this book. Thanks!
Please enter me
My students will truly enjoy verifying the facts and identifying the fiction in Claude and Camille.
shannon Baas says
Michele Anne says
Sounds interesting….count me in…
this looks like a fascinating read thanks for the giveaway
valerie mabrey says
count me in to win this is great
Brent Dotson says
Sounds like a good read.
Nicole C. says
I would love to read this book.
love to have the chance to read this.
stephanie rutledge says
i would love to read this book!!
JAMES LYNAM says
MONET, I KNOW. HE HAD A TOUGH LIFE BUT I HOPE HIS PAINTINGS AT
LEAST MADE HIS LIFE ENJOYABLE.
Sounds like an interesting read!
Sounds good! Count me in!
Please enter me for this book – thanks!
Yes please! I love reading historical fiction of artists.
Ah, Monet! Would love this one! Thank you!
The review cinched this one for me.
Christine Jensen says
Sounds intriguing! I would love to read this book!
As long as I can remember, my mother brought me to Boston’s Fine Arts museum to “visit” Monet, so I know she and I will both enjoy reading this book.
Katie Schroeder says
This sounds like a very intriguing book that I would love to read. I once played Monet in an elementary school play and have loved him ever since!
This would be a special treat–art, love and good writing!
Susan C says
I love historical fiction and would love to learn more about Monet’s life.
smchester at gmail dot com
Jenn S. says
Adding this to my to-read list…sounds fantastic!
Would love to read any of these books. Books of knowledeg I call them!!!
Anita Yancey says
Love historical fiction, and would like to read this book. Thanks for the chance.
This sounds wonderful, I’d love to win!
This sounds like a book I would enjoy very much…thanks for the review and giveaway.
I really enjoy historical fiction as well – this book sounds like one I would enjoy!
Sounds like a good read!
I’d like to win this for my niece- Amber, ty.
would love to win
Angela Winesburg says
I’d love to read this, thanks for the chance!
This looks like a great book.