In July 1888, in a public garden in Arles, France, Vincent van Gogh meets a young woman who will change his life forever. He came to Arles to escape the strains of Paris and find a different light for his painting. Meeting Rachel was the spark he needed to rededicate himself.Read more...
In July 1888, in a public garden in Arles, France, Vincent van Gogh meets a young woman who will change his life forever. He came to Arles to escape the strains of Paris and find a different light for his painting. Meeting Rachel was the spark he needed to rededicate himself. Feeding off the energy of this fascinating woman, fighting the hopelessness deep inside him, Vincent throws himself into his work, .
Rachel, desperate to flee the shame of village scandal, is drawn to the loneliness she senses in this strange man. Filled with dreams and a love of life, Rachel strikes up an unexpected friendship with the mysterious foreigner. As she and Vincent grow closer, Rachel comes to believe that the man everyone gossips about could be the love she longs for.
But as time passes, she gains a deeper insight into a man struggling with personal demons. Can Vincent′s growing attachment to Rachel save him? And will Rachel find the strength to stand by a man she has come to care for deeply, even as he spirals into darkness?
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 43.
- Review Date: 2009-08-17
- Reviewer: Staff
In a knockout debut novel, art historian Bundrick (Music and Image in Classical Athens) brings Vincent Van Gogh's paintings and personal story to vibrant life. While Bundrick takes many liberties (recorded in an author's note) in her fictionalized account of Van Gogh's affair with her narrator, fille de maison Rachel Courteau, she gives Rachel such a believable voice that the proceedings seem genuine. At 35, Van Gogh meets lovable spitfire Rachel while surreptitiously sketching her in a garden. Having taken refuge in an Arles brothel after the death of her parents, Rachel greets Van Gogh as a customer not long after, and soon feelings blossom between them. Visiting friend Paul Gauguin and the cloud of Van Gogh's madness undercut the couple's bliss, as do financial troubles and Rachel's life at the maison, where she's kept a virtual prisoner. While infusing well-known historical moments (like Van Gogh's infamous self-mutilation) with vivid details, humanizing Van Gogh and putting his famous works in context, Bundrick generates an impressive volume of suspense, delight and heartbreak. (Oct.)