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 . . .
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 own 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 about van Gogh’s untimely death. Their quest will lead them on a surreal odyssey and brothel-crawl deep into the art world of late nineteenth-century Paris.
Oh lÀ lÀ, 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—SacrÉ Bleu is another masterpiece of wit and wonder from the one, the only, Christopher Moore.
About Christopher Moore
Christopher Moore is the author of twelve previous novels: Practical Demonkeeping, Coyote Blue, Bloodsucking Fiends, Island of the Sequined Love Nun, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, Lamb, Fluke, The Stupidest Angel, A Dirty Job, You Suck, Fool, and Bite Me. He lives in San Francisco, California.
An aspiring painter and unabashed romantic joins the greatest artists of the age in chasing his muse across fin de siècle–era France.
There are really two ages and two operating modes for hugely popular comedic writer Moore (The Griff, 2011, etc.). There’s the deceptively easy humor of his early California novels, which only gets sharper and funnier in his San Francisco–based vampire novels. But from time to time, Moore gets obsessed with a particular subject, lending a richer layer to his peculiar brand of irreverent humor—see Lamb (2003), Fluke (2003) and Fool (2009) for examples. Here, the author gets art deeply under his fingernails for a wryly madcap and sometimes touching romp through the late 19th century. The story surrounds the mysterious suicide of Vincent van Gogh, who famously shot himself in a French wheat field only to walk a mile to a doctor’s house. The mystery, which is slowly but cleverly revealed through the course of the book, is blue: specifically the exclusive ultramarine pigment that accents pictures created by the likes of Michelangelo and van Gogh. To find the origin of the hue, Moore brings on Lucien Lessard, a baker, aspiring artist and lover of Juliette, the brunette beauty who breaks his heart. After van Gogh’s death, Lucien joins up with the diminutive force of nature Henri Toulouse-Lautrec to track down the inspiration behind the Sacré Bleu. In the shadows, lurking for centuries, is a perverse paint dealer dubbed The Colorman, who tempts the world’s great artists with his unique hues and a mysterious female companion who brings revelation—and often syphilis (it is Moore, after all). Into the palette, Moore throws a dizzying array of characters, all expertly portrayed, from the oft-drunk “little gentleman” to a host of artists including Édouard Manet, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. – Kirkus Reviews
Art, Mystery And Posh Pigments In ‘Sacre Bleu’
NPR Book Review – March 31, 2012 (Excerpt)
Novelist Christopher Moore says he isn’t very good at giving elevator speeches — those quick pitches on your latest project that Hollywood screenwriters are so good at.
“[That's] one of the reasons I probably don’t work in Hollywood,” Moore tells NPR’s Scott Simon. But if he had to give a brief rundown of his latest novel, Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art, he says, “I’d talk about it being a book about the color blue, and about solving the murder of Vincent van Gogh and the sort of mystical quality of making art. And it’s funny.”
The narrative winds all around late 19th century Paris through artists’ homes, cafes and brothels. But it begins and ends with a meditation on blue.
Early in the book, van Gogh shoots himself in a field in Auvers. This sets the novel’s two main characters — Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and a fictional baker and aspiring painter Lucien Lessard, eventually joined by some of the most noted artists of their time — on a quest to solve a multilayered mystery combining art, suicide and maybe murder.
“The murder mystery is what’s compelling to Lucien and Henri,” says Moore. “That relationship is, ‘What happened to our friend?’ He was getting better. He was at the height of his powers. And no one shoots himself in the abdomen in a cornfield in Auvers and walks a mile to the doctor for help. And it just didn’t seem right. And gradually the circumstances of this rather mystical shade of blue starts to manifest in the story.” [Read the full article...]
Book World: ‘Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art’ concocts a new ending for van Gogh
The Washington Post Book Review – April 10, 2012 (Excerpt)
The popular account of Vincent van Gogh’s suicide claims the troubled painter wandered into a field, shot himself with a revolver and then limped home to seek treatment. But that makes “no sense” to comic writer Christopher Moore. So he kicks off his bawdy new novel, “Sacre Bleu,” with a characteristically zany version of his own.
Vincent is painting in a field when “a twisted little man” known as the Colorman steps out of the corn and demands a painting: “The picture, Dutchman, or no more blue for you.” An argument ensues, and the Colorman’s revolver goes off, shooting Vincent in the chest. He dies later, but not before warning his brother, Theo, to hide the painting. “Keep her from him,” Vincent begs. “The little man.”
Watching that mystery unfold is part of the fun in “Sacre Bleu.” From that opening scene, the novel leaps to the bakery of young Lucien Lessard, an aspiring painter living in Montmartre. When Lucien gets word of Vincent’s death, he sprints to tell his friend Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and they set out on a delightfully ribald romp to figure out exactly what happened to van Gogh. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith. - 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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