It is the color of the Virgin Mary's cloak, a dazzling pigment desired by artists, an exquisite hue infused with danger, adventure, and perhaps even the supernatural. It is... SacrÉ Bleu.
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 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 of van Gogh's untimely death. Their quest will lead them on a surreal odyssey and brothel-crawl deep into the art world of late 19th century Paris.
Oh la la, quelle surprise, and zut alors! A delectable confection of intrigue, passion, and art history - with cancan girls, baguettes, and fine French cognac thrown in for good measure - Sacre Bleu is another masterpiece of wit and wonder from the one, the only, Christopher Moore.
©2012 Christopher Moore (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers
Unlike many reviewers, I was not familiar with Christopher Moore before listening to this book so I had no expectations as to his style which I gather is generally in a pretty humorous vein. Having said that, I really enjoyed parts of this book--not for its humor but for its ideas.
Moore sets his drama in the art world of fin de siecle Paris, using this setting to explore ideas about art, color (especially the sacred blue of the title) and the influence of the feminine--as muse, madonna, siren and harlot--on the creative mind. Moore's humor has an affinity for the scatological and the mildly obscene--which didn't bother me but neither did I find it particularly funny, although those episodes did convey a sense of the bohemian lifestyle of the Parisian art world in the late 19th century.
I found the middle half of the story by far the best as it created a real sense of drama and mystery while raising some quite interesting ideas. The first ¼ was a little slow and the last ¼ got pretty ridiculous--up to that final ¼, Moore had created a wonderful tension between the real and the supernatural, but ultimately seemed flummoxed as to how to play the story out in a satisfying way. I got the feeling that Moore actually wanted to write a somewhat serious book but got tripped up on what he considered his own style and perhaps what his fans had come to expect from him.
With "Sacre Bleu," has Christopher Moore set off in a new direction? I kind of hope not; although I have to admit that "Sacre Bleu" shows more sophistication than any of Moore's previous novels. Only, I don't actually listen to Moore for sophistication ... I listen to Moore for humor. "Sacre Bleu" has less humor and silliness than any of his previous novels -- even "Lamb" -- but still retains his trademark supernatural element. In fact, "Sacre Bleu" does have a pretty good plot concept -- the role of the color blue in art throughout human history -- and Moore has obviously researched the story elements extensively. I didn't realize that so many great artists were practicing in France at the same time, AND associating with one another. We get to meet Van Gogh (briefly), Toulouse Lautrec, Monet, Manet, Pizarro, and several others. I just miss Moore's usual silliness. Euan Morton does a pretty good job, although I cringe every time he says "Montmartre" or any French word with "Saint" in it. O.K., that will only bother French-speakers. Despite all my grumping, however, I still recommend "Sacre Bleu" to all Christopher Moore fans. I just hope that he goes back to being silly.
Inspired poetic masterful
Revelation upon revelation
Depth of character, clear delineation of characters, epic timing that does justice to Moore.
The intimate knowledge of art, painting, the Artists depicted, their works, their temperaments, historical details of the time and place, the weaving of fact and historical fiction, as well as Moore's conceit and representation of Inspiration is absolute genius! This book is nothing short of a literary coup for historical fiction, humor and Moore himself. As usual, his humor is superbly crafted, supremely intelligent, often subtle and never fails. As a screenwriter, painter and former Fine Art instructor, I am in awe of what Moore has achieved with Sacre Bleu. Euan Morton is nothing short of perfection! This is far and away the single best Audiobook experience I have had (over the course of several hundred titles...) I cannot recommend this book more strongly, doubly so if you are a painter or art aficionado.
All I can say is, this book had more out loud laughs than any book I have ever listened too...and as if that wasnt enough of a reason to love it...you fall in LOVE with the characters...Henri and Lucien are perfect together...and you cant help but feel their friendship...and sympathy for their trials...as well as their large group of friends who weave in and out of the entire book...
As a bonus measure there is alot of information about the city of Paris in the 19th Century...and the painters who lived there...I love any books about Art, being an Art major in college, but the personality he gives all of these famous people make them feel closer and more realistic (albeit fictional personality)...and it actually inspired me to dig my old books out of the attic and follow along with the paintings in the story...BRILLIANT...then I found out the 1st edition of this book comes with some of the art in the novel...so I ordered that too...
This is my first Christopher Moore book, and I will be checking out all of the rest, if they are even half as funny as this one, they will be well worth the credit...
Note: if your not into bawdy or blue humor...all about brothels, syphilis, the female back end, or the male front, this might not be a good book for you...If you dont mind a dark comedy, or love them...PLEASE do yourself a favor and get this book!!!
I am an avid eclectic reader.
I had recently read Irving Stone's" Lust for Life" about Vincent Van Gogh and when I saw this advertised as What if Van Gogh did not kill himself but was murdered. I thought this interesting and so got the book. The book was more about Lucien Lessard and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec than Van Gogh and had some historical fiction but mostly was fantasy. It was okay but not my cup of tea. I understand Moore has quite a following and maybe he is one of these writers that grows on you. Euan Morton did and excellent job narrating the story.
I enjoyed it. I did. It isn't as funny or as pointed as Lamb. It is more like Fool, but I preferred Fool to this. I have a minor in art history and so this book was very much playing into my interests, still, I thought it could have been much funnier.
The narration was good.
And I only just realized that there is a PDF file that includes many of the artworks discussed in the audiobook. Don't forget to download that.
I love to read, but I am time-limited. Audible allows me to keep up with all my favorite authors while on the hiking trail. Thanks, Audible!
I suppose I should start by announcing loudly that I AM A HUGE FAN OF CHRISTOPHER MOORE. I love the absurdity of his characters, but more than that, I love the overt hilarious associated with how he finds epiphanies in barefaced observations. I also enjoy the eccentric perfection of his descriptive passages. In Sacre Bleu, Lucien Lessard and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec set out to solve the mysterious death of their friend and fellow painter Vincent van Gogh. This is a book about emotions and all the gorgeous life excesses which are associated with them. It brilliantly melds feeling with impracticality in what can only be described as vividly insane. I love it. Euan Morton does a great job narrating a book which is meant to be heard to achieve full enjoyment.
What were to happen if an artists muse were to really come alive? What if the passion for art was a physical need, like a drug addiction. What if the drug was a single color and its pusher were a being as old as time? The premise is fascinating, even without such colorful (pun intended) characters as La Trec, Renoir, and Van Gogh. Set the whole thing in the modernist renaissance, et voila! A masterpiece.
I truly loved this story.
This story has a few laughs, but nothing like "Lamab" or "Fool" or "You Suck" and "Bite Me" which I have listened to more than a dozen times and still laugh. I only got this because I had an extra credit. and I'm glad of that because I was let down. You may like it, I am familiar with the time period and the art movement of France at the time but still didn't inspire me. Just my opinion I thought the narrator did a fine job and that did make it more entertaining. but I was expecting more from Moore.
Having read many Christopher Moore books, and enjoyed them and laughed throughout, I could not finish the last half of this. I waited way too long for something funny, or even engaging, to occur. Sure, there are hints of the occult and mysterious characters that live throughout the ages, but definitely nothing funny or adequately exciting to keep my interest. And there are so many characters they are hard to keep track of.
Perhaps, in the second half. I couldn't bring myself to listen any longer. . .
Report Inappropriate Content