Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art

23 Apr

Title: Sacré Bleu
Author: Christopher Moore
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 416

The Gist: In July 1890, Vincent van Gogh went into a cornfield and shot himself. Or did he? Why would an artist at the height of his creative powers attempt to take his own life . . . and then walk a mile to a doctor’s house for help? Who was the crooked little “color man” Vincent had claimed was stalking him across France? And why had the painter recently become deathly afraid of a certain shade of blue?

These are just a few of the questions confronting Vincent’s friends—baker-turned-painter Lucien Lessard and bon vivant Henri Toulouse-Lautrec—who vow to discover the truth about van Gogh’s untimely death. Their quest will lead them on a surreal odyssey and brothel-crawl deep into the art world of late nineteenth-century Paris.

The Review:  I enjoyed Sacré Bleus uniqueness and I’m impressed with Moore’s mix of historical fact with surrealism and fantasy to bring Paris’s late 19th century art world to life.  I will never see another Monet, Van Gogh, or Toulouse Lautrec painting the same way again.  Especially Lautrec.  An added treat: at least in the e-book edition, the paintings throughout the novel are in color and are reproductions of real pieces you can see in a museum.

However, it took some time for me to get into the book.  I don’t know if it’s the book’s pace (it was a little slow to me at first), its strangeness combined with its subject matter or what.  But once I fully suspended my disbelief, I had a great time reading Sacré Bleu.  It’s tawdry, shameless, shamelessly tawdry, and shamelessly irreverent — everything you’ve come to expect in a Christopher Moore novel.  What surprised me about Sacré Bleu is its solid foundation in history and art history with the Impressionists at its center.  Moore poured a lot of research into this novel.

I’m used to reading Moore’s novels Fool, Bite Me, You Suck, and A Dirty Job.  Those books do not have a historical basis if I recall.  Fool is just another take on Shakespeare’s King Lear.  With Sacré Bleu, Moore uses real people, events, and places to create his latest twisted story.  No longer just names listed in a book, in Sacré Bleu Monet, Van Gogh, and Toulouse Lautrec become real people with quirks, bad habits, and great passions.

In Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art, Christopher Moore blends surrealism, fantasy, and historical fiction seamlessly together to bend space, time, and memory to bring a subtle creepiness to the story that flows from beginning to end.  Sacré Bleu, a wacky tale, discusses the source of artistic inspiration and the price required to obtain artistic genius.  It’s a story about love, creativity, inspiration, suffering and sacrifice, and the color blue. If you’re a history buff of any sort and like books that slide into odd dimensions or peek behind reality in some way, read Christopher Moore’s Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art.

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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Book Reviews, Christopher Moore


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