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Book Reviews

Wednesday, 4 July, 2012 12:54 PM

'Sacre Bleu: A Comedy D'Art' is a painful read

Book cover credit: William Morrow Books

"Sacre Bleu: A Comedy D'Art" by Christopher Moore is available in bookstores everywhere.

 

by Maggie Young
magy_74@hotmail.com

 

|

I have started and stopped this review at least a dozen times. I have been struggling to find the right words to describe this book.

What began so well quickly went downhill at an alarmingly fast pace. Should I’ve been surprised? Probably not since Playboy was quoted on the back cover stating, “If there’s a funnier writer out there, step forward.”Should have been my first clue.

Like I said, it started interestingly enough. As someone who studied art history throughout high school and parts of university, I was intrigued by the storyline. It begins with the death of Vincent van Gogh. Van Gogh famously shot himself in 1890 in a field. However no gun was ever retrieved from the site and van Gogh stumbled back to a small French village to die. This is where Moore’s story begins.

Using a fictional main character, Lucien Lessard is a baker by profession and struggling artist by passion. Upon receiving the news of van Gogh’s death, Lucien and his friend Henri Toulouse-Lautrec quickly become suspicious of the circumstances of van Gogh's death. Was it just made to look like a suicide?

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec is just one of the many real-life artists of this period that Moore uses throughout his novel. Some others include Renoir, Pissarro, Manet, Seurat, Monet, Whistler, Cézanne and many more. Their paintings are scattered throughout the story.

Sacre Bleu may also sound familiar to readers. I remember hearing it in a movie as a kid and getting scolded at by mother for repeating it. I later learned it was a French curse word, but it wasn’t until this book that I learned its true meaning. Sacre Bleu refers to the blue cloak that was painted on the Virgin Mary. During the 13th century, it became popular for artists to use expensive and rare ultramarine blue for the painting of Mary’s robe.

These 19th century artists used what was referred to as a colorman to get the colors they needed for their paintings. In Moore’s story, he creates a crooked, little colorman who has weaved his way through all these famous artists’ lives and paintings. Lucien and Toulouse-Lautrec begin to track down their artist friends and discover that each artist had a muse that they were completely enamoured with though their memories are distorted and where the paintings disappeared to is a mystery to them.

Where this story begins to unravel is with the element of magical powers this colorman possesses. Though I have some imagination with stories that use magical elements, Moore leaves out a lot of details and doesn’t explain properly how the Colorman has been affecting famous artists for centuries. Bleu is a spirit/sidekick who becomes these famous muses in all the paintings. As long as the Colorman has some of his ultramarine, Bleu can keep entering new bodies to inspire these artists.

There is a serious lack of flow with the character Bleu. Sometimes she is good and sometimes she bad. As a reader, you are always questioning her motives especially with Lucien. She inspires Lucien through his former love, Juliette.

This novel is supposed to be comical, but it often comes off as crude. Using the word “fuck” to describe every sex scene just seems like a writer who lacks creativity and is just being lazy.

Overall, I would suggest this book with caution. What began as interesting became a nightly punishment to finish.

Sacre Bleu: A Comedy D'Art at bookstores everywhere.

ISBN# 978-0061779749 / Publisher: William Morrow / (April 3, 2012) / Hardcover: 416 pages

Related Story: Book Review: 'UnJunk Your Junk Food' is an eye-opening experience

 

 

Photo credit: William Morrow Books

An excerpt from "Sacre Bleu: A Comedy D'Art."

 

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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer.

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