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Publisher's Summary

Lust for Life is Irving Stone's biographical novel about the life of the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. Largely based on the letters Van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo, the novel details the artist's difficult life, as well as describing the origins of many of his famous paintings, such as The Potato Eaters, Sunflowers, and others.

©1961 Irving Stone (P)2012 Random House Audio

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 05-05-12

Great story

Irving Stone wrote this book in 1934 and became the master of the biographical novel. I had read a number of his books back in the 50's and 60's and wanted to read them all but did not have the time. I do hope that Audible will provide all of his outstanding books. A number of Stone's books were made into movies. " Lust for Life" is the story of Vincent Van Gogh, the facts are correct but stone's brings him to life and in doing so has to take creative license therefore it is a novel. I remember after reading this book in 1962 I went to the museum to look at Van Gogh paintings. I am glad I read this book again as I had remember very little of it. Stone describes the colors of the area and what Vincent is painting so it helps me see the world though Van Gogh's eyes or the eyes of a painter.
Van Gogh probably had a bipolar disorder and did has greatest painting when in the manic phase. Some of his medical complaints may also be caused by his over consumption of Absinthe as it contains a toxin and to lead poisoning which was common among painters of that era. The toxin in Absinthe causes one to see yellow and halo around lights. The story covers in detail his early life to his death. You will enjoy this book.

21 of 23 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Rich in detail...

This book creates a wonderful backdrop for appreciating the work of Vincent Van Gogh, providing an understanding of his development as an artist, as well as giving insight into the popular perceptions of him as a quintessential starving artist and cutter of his own ear. The story was developed using Vincent's own words from his letters to brother Theo, which certainly lends credibility to the thoughts that Stone puts in Vincent's head, as well as to conversations between Vincent and the other Impressionists of the age.

However, I think this may be one of those books best read rather than listened to...

It's not the narration; Mr. West does a fine, measured job, especially attributing a sweet earnestness to Vincent, and I probably would never have gotten around to the written version before my travels to Amsterdam (where his museum lives) and Provence (where he did much of his painting).

But Stone put so much effort into his descriptions of the places, people, clothing, food, the period in general, that it was often difficult to visualize them at the same pace they were being read - or maybe it's that I felt they deserved to be re-read and dwelt upon. It's strange that in the end, I felt that the hours of narration passed both too slowly because of the detail, and too quickly because I couldn't absorb all the detail!

While I'm happy to have listened to this version of the book, I plan to find a real paper copy that I can search through for certain descriptions of paintings and settings, to bookmark and compare to the paintings that are now as beloved by the world as they seemed to have been by Vincent himself. (P.S. The Van Gogh Museum is worth a visit, especially when they keep it open late on Friday nights! The most fascinating part is where they compare the current colors in the paintings to what was originally put on canvas - many of the blues used to be purples...)

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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One of my all-time favorites.

I love this book so much, I had read it years ago and I never forgot it, so when I found it on audible I downloaded it immediately. It is even better than I remember. The character of Van Gogh comes through so well I wanted to cry for his passing though of course I knew it was coming. You will appreciate his paintings more than ever after this glimpse into his life. Enjoyed the narration as well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Patience

This book is slow to gain speed, yet suddenly the story finishes and leaves the reader feeling haunted and captivated over the real life events that took place in the years of Vincent Van Gogh.
The narrator I felt slightly diluted the passion and character of Vincent. Often I was distracted by the delivery of tone and flatness the beautiful lines of Irving stone were given by the performance.
However it is hard to say what the ideal voice to portray this story would be. It is a tumult of information that was handled with courage and professionalism.
Definitely a story worth getting through though. The climax sneaks up on you and suddenly you're in the middle of the dark labyrinth the artist created within himself.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Life of Struggle

Would you consider the audio edition of Lust for Life to be better than the print version?

I never read the print version but thoroughly enjoyed the audio edition.

Have you listened to any of Steve West’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Don't recall hearing Steve West before but will certainly consider him when making future selections.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Until Death Do I Paint

Any additional comments?

Steve West was able to deftly convey the complexity of a life fraught with bouts of mental illness and disappointments. I was intrigued by Van Gogh's life, relationships and the hardships he endured in pursuit of his passion for art. Appreciated learning about his Impressionist peers and how they influenced Van Gogh's work.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Trip To Amsterdam

What about Steve West’s performance did you like?

As for the performance, it was good although I did not really like the way West read the female lines.

Any additional comments?

I listened to the book in preparation for my trip to Amsterdam. I had once started to read a Van Gogh biography but quit because it was rather boring. However, this book I really enjoyed. Base on the book, Van Gogh never lived in Amsterdam; however, the Van Gogh museum is there.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Interesting portrayal of complex man

Would you try another book from Irving Stone and/or Steve West?

I read "Agony and the Ecstasy" and loved it: more thorough, detailed, accesible and revealing of Michaelangelo's character, work and times. This, comparatively, is less so and thus a bit disappointing.

Steve West is one of your 2 or 3 best narrators. I wish he did more "literary" books.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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truly enjoyed most of the book<br />

truly enjoyed most of the book but it was very painful the times. Wonderful research.

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I never knew

I didn’t think I would like this book, I don’t I love it! This is a fantastic book written so beautifully that I felt as though I was living Van Gogh’s life with him. I have always admired his art but never took the time to learn about him. Wow what a life he lived!

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Standing ovation

What made the experience of listening to Lust for Life the most enjoyable?

The reading was perhaps the best I've ever heard

Who was your favorite character and why?

Vincent of course

Have you listened to any of Steve West’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Not sure. But they definitely don't get much better

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

They did make a film. A lousy one.

Any additional comments?

it just doesn't get any better than this. Irving Stone is a genius equal to the task as is Steve West. Bravo !!!