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
Say something about yourself!
I'm new to Christopher Moore. I'd seen those signature covers, with the bold chunky letters "M-O-O-R-E" across the front, and was curious..."What new genre is this: vampires named Abby Normal, murderous Santas, the spectre Death in a baby carriage, King Lear as a comedy, Jesus and his boyhood pal Biff...holy merde!...is nothing sacre'?!" I was tempted, but my impression was the subject matter was too surreal, too bawdy, too irreverant, for my tastes. But a novel about wonderful art, Paris, Van Gogh, even if it was fictional comedy....oh! I could not resist. I didn't stop smiling or laughing for 11 hrs. and 40 min.
Sacre' Bleu is a brilliantly crafted mish-mash of genres, part historical fiction, part mystery, part fantasy, part mythology, loaded with satire and comedic genius, but also some accurate and interesting history. I get why the fans are zealous, why the reviews are glowing--this is entertaining smart comedy; energetic and colorful, with a cast of who's-who in the world of 19th century artists (even a "cameo" by Descartes and Hemingway) and a story that spans history. The character Toulouse-Lautrec was especially funny, brought to life by the wonderful narration of Euan Morton.The first hour is a little slow, but the pace picks up quickly, and if the plot doesn't draw you in, the amusing banter will.
If you are considering Moore for the first time, I can say I enjoyed this listen immensely, but don't think it is for everyone, it's more an acquired taste. It is irreverant, and there is some bawdy humor--if you can't laugh at a dirty joke, and bits of sophmoric humor, you might not appreciate Moore's style. As for me, I want more of anything that can hold my interest AND keep a smile on my face. I'll be reading the Audible members' reviews of other Moore books and choosing another.
If you're looking for the comedy so readily had in Fool, Dirty Job, and all of the Pine Cove books it isnt here, this is more the kind of deeply drawn absurd comedy that you found in Fluke. This is the side of Chistopher Moore rarely glimpsed in his writing, the meloncholy sarcasm and broad comedy that is based not on the situation but on the very weirdness and craziness of a (semi)-normal life and love and the horror that is being a creative person.
So if you're looking for a delightful romp with another Pocket of Dog Snogging or another journey with Levi bar Alphaeus who is called Biff, or even a drag along the absurd with Theopolis Crowe, skip this one, you wont find the same humor.
If however you are looking for a very well thought out very well researched and deeply colourful book, then Christopher Moore is your colour man giving you the blue you need (whether you eat it or not) to make your day a little less blue and a little moore hued.
At last, that year I spent studying art history pays off!
Not that you need to know anything about art history to enjoy this book. The chapter guide is very helpful. Well, I discovered it just after I'd finished the book, but it LOOKS helpful. Have it handy while you listen.
So, here is Moore doing what he does best, crafting a story that is intelligent and moving, but also bawdy and goofy. There's that mystery I mentioned, and some romance, lots of sex and other "vices", and thoughtful ruminations on the nature of inspiration and the sacrifices that must be made for art.
The main character, baker/painter Lucien Lessard, is great, but it's Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec who steals the show as Lucien's drunken horndog sidekick. We need another book about him!
The narration is superb. I loved what Euan Morton did with Fool, and his performance here is just as lively.
I can't give Sacr?? Bleu a full five stars for the story. I want to, but it doesn't quite equal Moore's masterpieces Lamb and Fool. There are some aspects of the story that don't quite gel, and maybe it gets a bit too complicated for its own good. But it's really, really close. I've already started listening to it for a second time.
You don't have to have an art background to enjoy this book. It is written with humor, mystery, history and art. If you do have an art background, there are so many things that you will "get." All the great Impressionists are mentioned and some take part in the story. You will be amazed at the "source" for ultramarine blue pigment. A very imaginative book. And, I really liked the reader. He was perfect for the time and place. I can't imagine it would be as much fun to read the book myself. Hearing it was a delight.
I really enjoyed the story Christopher Moore dreamed up. Bohemian Paris is one of the places i would love to time travel to. Can you imagine it? Painters and writers and can-can dancers drinking to the green fairy. What i love about Christopher Moore, is that he is extremely thorough with his research, look at Lamb.
The actual storyline was just okay, its entertaining and keeps you interested, but it paled in comparison to the amazing world that Moore paints for the reader. You are transported to Paris at a time where some of the most renown painters are friends and you get to peek into their process. What makes them who they are as well as the women who act as muses for them.
I would recommend this story for anyone who has even a small interest in art. Also, the summary makes this sounds like a detective story about the death of Van Gough. Yes, it is, but Van Gough's part is really short. His death is not really a motivating factor, but it is entertaining and has an interesting take on why he cut off his own earlobe.
Euan Morton does a great job with the different characters. He was able to distinguish all the men and made the women's voices believable. I like it when the narrator doesn't outshine or hinder the story. Morton did a great job.
Avid reader my whole life - addicted to audio. I listen to books & podcasts while working, driving, sleeping......
Ok, so it isn't my favorite from Christopher Moore, but it still holds its own as a funny and entertaining listen. The whole French art history theme wore on me after awhile - I started wishing for it to hurry up and end already - like a couple of hours before it finally did. I also had a difficult time solidifying the characters in my head - I felt like they were being reintroduced multiple times and they all kind of ran together into three or four historic artists and some really witty whores. Does it sound like I didn't enjoy it? I really did - it had the signature Moore saucy humor and fun sub-plots that he is known for and he remains one of my favorite authors. If you like Moore you need to add this to your collection, and if you've never experienced Moore then definitely try it because everyone needs some Moore :)
If you liked Christopher Moore's remake of McBeth then you'll likely enjoy this story. If his other books are more your flavor then you might struggle with Sacre Bleu. The story is well written and well performed but it was like listening to a story that you understand is meant to be amusing but you don't have enough knowledge of the subject matter to enjoy its humorus intent.
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!!!
Well written, art and fantasy. It made me buy more from this author. Is there any better praise. I loved his other book also.
I can understand that not everyone will like this book because it has some very specific art history references. I have a completely useless degree in art history, so this book for me was like hearing stories about old friends. At first I was skeptical about downloading this book because I was afraid he may have messed around too much with history. I was pleasantly surprised at how well he wound his story around actual events without making any serious changes in history. The narration is also well done.
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