Tuesday, September 10, 2013

MONET - 'Claude and Camille', A Book Review

A story of hardship, and dedication to a dream; a man who seeks his art and finds a woman who inspires that art. This book is about the life and love of an artist, Claude Monet and his muse, Camille (Doncieux) Monet.



Claude and Camille, by Stephanie Cowell



 Claude and Camille
A Novel of Monet, by Stephanie Cowell

From his hometown of Le Havre, Claude Monet set out for Paris, to discover his fortune and escape working in his father's naval supply shop. He starts with art classes and meets fellow painters Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Frederick Bazille, and several others who will become close friends of Claude early in his Paris life.

He discovers the young Camille first in a train station, but he memorizes how she looked. Then, he sees her again in her uncle's bookstore. Drawn to her innocence, he asks her to model for a painting. The more he sees her, the more he becomes obsessed with painting her. The family is not pleased with her association with an artist. Camille follows Claude but yearns for the city life and her family, while Claude prefers the seashore and small villages where he can paint. He feels a failure at not being able to provide what Camille is used to. Cities and social events cost money. So does paint. They move frequently.

When Camille is 22 years old, she and Monet live in Montmartre along with Renoir and others. The struggles Monet and the Impressionists have to endure to have the new art accepted weigh heavily on the young couple. They are always scrabbling for a roof over their heads and food on the table. If not for the generosity of some family and friends of the artists, Claude, Camille and many others would have fared worse.

Stephanie Cowell weaves a tale of truth and fiction that will wrap around your heart. In Claude and Camille, we learn what 'starving artists' means in the late 1800s, just as we see the unrelenting judgment of an artistic society who ensured these Impressionists would be excluded. One had to conform. Cowell shows the indecision that must befall performers of every sort. Recommended.

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Have you read this book? Did you know the model in many of Monet's paintings was his wife? If not, do you like this time period - late 1800s to early 1900s? Do you read biographies of artists, writers, etc.?

Please share in the comments, and thanks for dropping by. More information at the links below.

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Claude Monet - Impressionist Artist

More about the artist
http://dghudson.blogspot.ca/2013/08/claude-monet-impressionist-artist.html

More about the author - Stephanie Cowell
http://www.stephaniecowell.com/index.htm Home Page

Claude and Camille, published by Crown Publishers, a division of Random House, 2010.

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31 comments:

  1. I think there's a movie out there about this story already, but I wish they'd make a new one. It's such a dramatic tale.

    Sounds like the perfect book to read on a train to Paris. :)

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    1. There is a BBC production and a more recent one, LG. I saw this one made a couple of years ago.
      BBC version:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6JbE34arck

      I breezed through this book, it's easy to read and get attached to the characters. I thought this is a good companion to the post on the artist himself. And I saw it available at the library the last time I was there.


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  2. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Impressionist movement! This sounds like a book right up my alley.... How cool to have an inside look at the inner workings of a staving artist during the breakthrough of a new art form!

    Imagine these artists today... their paintings are going for MILLIONS and are hanging in the most prestigious museums in the world, INCLUDING the LOUVRE!!!

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    1. We never appreciate a lot of our artists during their lifespans. Some will catch the public eye, but when it's something new, it's a tougher road for the innovators. It's a great read, Michael! I think you would like it.

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    2. THANKS D.G...

      I am adding it to my TBR list. It keeps growing. LOL.

      Hope you're having a wonderful weekend.

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  3. It's a great shame that the truly talented were often put down and kept down by society. I love the softness to Monet's paintings. It's a nice love story, too. They must've had a strong bond to stay together through all of the struggles.

    xoRobyn

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    1. In the times of Monet, you were more confined to the status quo. It was hard to get respect for new ideas. It was fortunate that the artists helped each other. We still have these 'arbiters' of taste and 'what's acceptable' today.

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  4. I haven't read the book, but I am very familiar with Monet's work.

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    1. I'd expect nothing less from you, Alex. A Ninja master must know all.

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  5. I hadn't heard of this book before, but it sounds really good. Monet's paintings are beautiful.

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    1. It's a story that brought out my empathy, and emotion in parts of the book.

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  6. These posts always read so smoothly. Once again, well done. I'm left curious about the very last line. It seemed scarcity and perhaps hard luck ruled over the couple and I'm wondering about your choice of the word, 'indecision.'

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    1. Hi Suze, by 'indecision' I meant that he had to decide whether to stay by his mate when she was ill, or leave her side and paint. Should he go or should he stay? Indecision. . .

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  7. I did know that the model was his wife. This sounds like a wonderful book!

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    1. I loved reading it, Sherry. I'm a big fan of Monet, and the romantic background of their relationship is well written. It was one of those books you don't want to let go.

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  8. This sounds like a wonderful book! Thanks for the intro to it.

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  9. Thank you so much for the beautiful review! I am so thrilled you like the novel! - Stephanie

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    1. My pleasure, Stephanie, the cover photo of Camille drew me to the book, since I remembered that painting. I have seen the other cover, but I like this one best.

      Thanks for stopping by! I'm honored.

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    2. Oh the great cover debate goes on and on! Actually it sold better with the lovers to some people and with the Monet painting (that is his stepdaughter Susanne) to others!

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    3. How interesting, I've learned something new about Monet. Thanks for sharing that.

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  10. What an interesting time that must have been. I wonder if they had any inkling of the part in history they would be playing. I don't recall ever having read any books about visual artists, but I've read several about famous composers and writers and found them to be quite enjoyable. This book sounds very interesting.

    Lee
    A Faraway View

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    1. I enjoyed 'Claude and Camille' very much Lee, and I like that group of artists. You just might like it.

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  11. I hadn't read this novel. It saddens me that Man persecutes living genius only to praise them when they are dead. Now, I will have to research Monet and his Camille. :-)

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    1. I'd be interested if you find out more about Camille. I like the BBC tv movie version of this story. Sometimes, what is different is threatening. Art history taught me to look behind the painting for more relevance.

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  12. This sounds like a fabulous book. Of course, I love Monet's work, but I don't know a whole lot about his life and struggles. It's been far too long since I read a good biography, and this one sounds like the perfect opportunity to get back to reading one now. Thanks!

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    1. It's a good one, IMO. Easy to read, never boring.

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  13. Monet's work has always fascinated me, and yes I knew his wife was the model for a large body of his work. Will get this book asap.

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    1. It's a great read, and one reviewer suggested that the reader should have a book of Monet's art nearby so you know which painting is being referred to. It's easy enough to find them online,now. Glad you knew about his wife-model.

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  14. Typically, I'm not a reader of biographies, but I'd read this in a heartbeat. It sounds so beautiful and I'm a huge fan of impressionist art!

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    1. It touches the heart in many ways, the passion of youth, the regret of the later years, and all the interesting other artists who make appearances in the story. Hope you get a chance to read it, Words Crafter.

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