Friday Reads: Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet by Stephanie Cowell

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Talk about book love!

Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet by Stephanie Cowell is so absolutely perfect! I read this book last weekend and found it instantly captivating and impossible to put down. Friendship, love, heartache and art history are beautifully woven together in this amazing story.

I don’t remember how old I was the first time I saw Monet’s work, but I remember instantly loving it. I have always found his work to be so serene and beautiful. I had no clue how he struggled as an artist and in his relationship with Camille.  It completely changes the way I look at his work now.

Here’s a description of this wonderful novel:

In the mid-nineteenth century, a young man named Claude Monet decided that he would rather endure a difficult life painting landscapes than take over his father’s nautical supplies business in a French seaside town. Against his father’s will, and with nothing but a dream and an insatiable urge to create a new style of art that repudiated the Classical Realism of the time, he set off for Paris.

But once there he is confronted with obstacles: an art world that refused to validate his style, extreme poverty, and a war that led him away from his home and friends. But there were bright spots as well: his deep, enduring friendships with men named Renoir, Cézanne, Pissarro, Manet – a group that together would come to be known as the Impressionists, and that supported each other through the difficult years. But even more illuminating was his lifelong love, Camille Doncieux, a beautiful, upper-class Parisian girl who threw away her privileged life to be by the side of the defiant painter and embrace the lively Bohemian life of their time.

His muse, his best friend, his passionate lover, and the mother to his two children, Camille stayed with Monet—and believed in his work—even as they lived in wretched rooms, were sometimes kicked out of those, and often suffered the indignities of destitution. She comforted him during his frequent emotional torments, even when he would leave her for long periods to go off on his own to paint in the countryside.

But Camille had her own demons – secrets that Monet could never penetrate, including one that when eventually revealed would pain him so deeply that he would never fully recover from its impact. For though Camille never once stopped loving the painter with her entire being, she was not immune to the loneliness that often came with being his partner.

A vividly-rendered portrait of both the rise of Impressionism and of the artist at the center of the movement, Claude and Camille is above all a love story of the highest romantic order.

You can pick up Claude & Camille at your local library, Borders or Barnes & Noble. If you would like to know more about author Stephanie Cowell you can visit her page, follow her on twitter or find her on Facebook.

Take care and happy reading!

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