Claude and Camille: A Novel of Claude Monet

Claude and Camille: A Novel of Claude Monet

by Stephanie Cowell

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307463210
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/06/2010
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

STEPHANIE COWELL is the author of Nicholas Cooke: Actor, Soldier, Physician, Priest; The Physician of London (American Book Award 1996) and The Players: A Novel of the Young Shakespeare. She is the also the author of Marrying Mozart, which was translated into seven languages and has been optioned for a movie. Visit her at www.stephaniecowell.com and http://everydaylivesfrenchimpressionists.blogspot.com.

Read an Excerpt

Claude & Camille

A Novel of Monet
By Stephanie Cowell

Crown

Copyright © 2010 Stephanie Cowell
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780307463210

PRELUDE

Giverny
July 1908

Dull late-afternoon light glittered on the hanging copper pots in the kitchen where the old painter sat with his wine, smoking a cigarette, a letter angrily crumpled on the table in front of him. Through the open window he could hear the sound of a few flies buzzing near one of the flower beds, and the voices of the gardener and his son, who were talking softly as they pushed their wheelbarrow over the paths of the vast garden.

He had meant to paint his water lily pond again, but after the letter had come he could do nothing. Even now, he felt the bitter words rising from the ink. “Why do you write me after all these years, Monet? I still hold you responsible for the death of my sister, Camille. There can be no communication between us.”

Outside, the day was ending, smelling of sweet grass and roses. He swallowed the last of his wine and stood suddenly, smoothing the letter and thrusting it in his pocket. “You foolish woman,” he said under his breath. “You never understood.”

Head lowered, he made his way up the stairs to the top floor, under the sloping attic roof, and down the hall to the locked door. He had worked in this small studio briefly when he first moved here years before and could not remember the last time he had gone inside.

Dust lay on the half-used tubes of paint on the table; palette knives and brushes of every size rested in jars. Rolled canvas and wood for stretchers leaned against a wall. Past the table stood a second door, which opened to a smaller room with another easel and an old blue-velvet-upholstered armchair. He lowered himself onto the chair, hands on his knees, and looked about him.

The room was filled with pictures of Camille.

There was one of her embroidering in the garden with a child at her feet, and another of her reading on the grass with her back against a tree, the sun coming through the leaves onto her pale dress. She was as elusive as light. You tried to grasp it and it moved; you tried to wrap your arms around it and found it gone.

It had been many years since he had found her in the bookshop. He saw himself then, handsome enough, with a dark beard, dark eyes flickering, swaggering a bit—a young man who did not doubt himself for long and yet who under it all was a little shy. The exact words they spoke to each other that day were lost to him; when he tried to remember, they faded. He recalled clearly, though, the breathless tone of her voice, the bones of her lovely neck, and her long fingers, and that she stammered slightly.

There she stood in his first portrait of her, when she was just nineteen, wearing the green promenade dress with the long train behind her, looking over her shoulder, beautiful, disdainful, as she had appeared nearly half a century before. He rose and lightly touched the canvas. Sometimes he dreamt he held her; that he would turn in bed and she would be there. But she was gone, and he was old. Nearly seventy. Only cool paint met his fingers. “Ma très chère . . .”

Darkness started to fall, dimming the paintings. He felt the letter in his pocket. “I loved you so,” he said. “I never would have had it turn out as it did. You were with all of us when we began; you gave us courage. These gardens at Giverny are for you, but I’m old and you’re forever young and will never see them. I’ll write your sister again at her shop in Paris. She must understand; she must know how it was.”

Outside, twilight was falling on the gardens, and the water lilies would be closing for the night. He wiped his eyes and sat for a time to calm himself. Looking around once more, he left the studio and slowly descended the stairs.

Continues...

Excerpted from Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell Copyright © 2010 by Stephanie Cowell. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Claude and Camille: A Novel of Monet 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
SDEisenberg More than 1 year ago
Forget dry biographies of Claude Monet and his lover-muse, Camille Doncieux. If you want to climb inside Monet's mind and heart, look no further than Stephanie Cowell's luminous novel, CLAUDE & CAMILLE, a brilliant follow-up to her last lovely novel, MARRYING MOZART. If God is in the details, Ms. Cowell creates a divinely nuanced portrait of the great Monet, first introducing the artist as an old man, then flashing back to the signal events and people who nourished his greatness. Monet's love for the young, enigmatic Camille becomes the touchstone of his life and work as he and his Impressionist colleagues--notably Renoir, Bazille, Degas, and Manet--struggle to impress the Parisian art establishment in the mid-1800s. Ms. Cowell's book reads like a lush literary LA BOHEME as Claude, Camille, and their cohorts battle poverty, parental opposition, professional rejection, and political turmoil. The author paints her book's canvas with passion, making the novel impossible to put down. I will never view any painting by Monet the same way, now that I understand the emotional cost of his art. And perhaps more importantly I will never cease to admire Camille's patience and persistence. She was "the woman behind the man" who encouraged Monet to shine for the ages. I recommend CLAUDE & CAMILLE to anyone who loves a fast-paced, beautifully crafted historical novel with tragic love at the core.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Claude & Camille" is a historical novel about the painter Claude Monet and his love Camille. Claude joins his painter friends in Paris trying to get their work recognized. They have a difficult time finding buyers and so live a life of poverty. Claude and Camille fall madly in love, although their life of poverty and bitter opposition from their families tests their love. There is great success and great tragedy, camaraderie, and wonderful art. You will want to go online to see the art. I enjoyed the book very much and learned so much about the struggles of the Impressionists. LiteraryLinda - ReadItForward
LK_Hunsaker More than 1 year ago
Claude & Camille is a beautiful read. Any fan of impressionism or art in general will enjoy the details of what life was like for this group of painters unknowingly forming a new school of art in the days of pre-WW2 Paris as well as throughout and after the war. It's a true book of art and about art and its story extends to all artists. Monet had his share of critics. In fact, he had so many nasty comments from critics, he destroyed some of his work in belief that he was wasting his time and would never get anywhere. I literally cringed when he cut through so many of his canvases, and again when many were destroyed during the war. Cowell allows us to closely connect with Monet as a real live person instead of only as the artist of such magnificent water lily and other landscape paintings. We get to learn his family history, his rocky relationship with his father, his path of learning and help he received along the way, and mostly, his relationship with his true love, Camille. At times I hurt badly for him and for how he struggled, and especially for how Camille struggled to love him through the broken promises and years of debt collectors following them. It's not easy to love and support an artist obsessed with his or her art! Nothing shows this better than Camille's story. At other times I wanted to yell at him to support his family better while he painted! There is such a thing as being too one-tracked and Monet was definitely that. I had to ask myself, though, if he would have ended up with such a huge body of art to his name if he had worked it around a job that actually paid. It's the crossroads all artists face: give up all comfort and security in the name of art or work your art around comfort and security. There's the big question that maybe has no good answer. It's hard for one-tracked artists to live in the real world. Even when taking jobs that pay, their heads are in their art, much of the time to the extent that any other job makes them miserable. They are as hard on themselves as they are on their loved ones, maybe harder, since they are never convinced they are quite good enough. And yet, these are the artists who generally make the biggest impression. Most of them would never in the world suggest anyone else take on the life they've chosen, or been handed. Claude & Camille is a must read for art lovers, especially art lovers who enjoy watching relationships build and struggle. At times, the dialogue was a bit stilted and there were a few sentences I had to reread due to awkward phrasing, but in general, it was a page turner and echoed Monet's 'patchy' impressionist art itself.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
From La Bohème to Rent, we love melodramatic stories about starving artists, poets, and composers. We never get enough of soulful young men and the girls who adore them struggling to live la vie Bohème. They grab our hearts. The clichés all arise from the second half of the 19th century, of course, and a century and a half later, the paintings they sold for a pittance (or failed to sell at all) now sell for millions of dollars. Where's the justice in that? Artists will tell you there is no proper reward for what they do, especially while they're alive. It seems that you have to be dead for at least a century to be famous. Stephanie Cowell's new novel, Claude & Camille, is based on the life of Claude Monet, whose 1872 painting Impression: soleil levant (Impression: Sunrise) gave a name (at first critical, only later laudatory) to the school of art he and his buddies-Bazille, Renoir, Pissarro, Manet, Cézanne, et al.-created in the 1860s and '70s. Monet (1840-1926) came from a proper bourgeois family that expected him to take over his father's shop. Instead, he started drawing caricatures in chalk, then was invited by an older artist, Eugène Boudin, to meet him at dawn to paint outdoors. It's the outdoors part that is revolutionary; until that time, nearly all painting was done in a studio or the patron's residence. Plein-air landscape painting was nearly unknown, and because the young men broke the rules of academic painting, their works were almost never accepted by the Salon in Paris. But the soon-to-be impressionists soldiered on, devoting their lives to their art and going into debt to buy paint and canvas. Cowell opens each chapter with an epigraph taken from the actual words of the artists. "We were all one group when we started out," said Renoir. "We stood shoulder to shoulder and we encouraged each other" (p. 60). Impressionist art, of course, soon inspired impressionist music (Debussy, Ravel, Vaughan Williams, et al.) and impressionist literature (Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Woolf, et al.). In the novel, as in his life, Monet moves to Paris, where he meets a girl named Camille Doncieux. Their story is easy to summarize: they fall in love, she gets pregnant, they live together in one shabby house after another, Claude keeps painting, they get married, and Camille dies too young, either (as the novel tells us) of cancer or (as the Wikipedia article says) of tuberculosis. It's la vie Bohème, and in a novel the life is grand and romantic. In real life, it's poor and dreadful. Cowell does not, of course, downplay the stresses, jealousies, and miseries of their lives. That's what makes for good drama. But as we see Camille wanting to be an actress but not actually trying out, wanting to write a novel but burning it, and inventing her history, we begin to wonder about her mental health. Although almost nothing is known about her biography, in the novel she seems almost schizophrenic. She and Claude love each other, yes, but it's a stormy relationship filled with deceit on her part and jealousy on his. It's a good story, but it's not a happy story. Quill says: La vie Bohème makes for a terrific story. Cowell brings these artists to life in the days before they were established and famous. Be sure to look at their paintings, too.
ismene7 More than 1 year ago
Claude Monet is an artist we know whether we know it or not. His water lilies and stunning landscapes have been part of our conciousness of Impressionism since the first art class. Like many artists we have stereotypes we apply. He seems to fit in - starving in Paris, in love with his model Camille, living la boheme in an uptight French society. Stephanie Cowell forces us to look deeper than the stereotypes. Yes, Claude was these many impressions, but he is also flesh and blood and driven to paint when society did not even desire his efforts. She spreads her canvas thick with the men he shared his vision with, the other "starving" artists. Some of them not so hungry and others starving for the kind of genius Monet possessed. It is a book that is given not to show Monet as a hero or villain, but as a man who loved, hated, fought, enjoyed a world that has often been trivialized in movies and opera. Camille shared his journey and was often Muse, often housewife, often the woman who wore him down. Their story, Cowell seems to say, is one of the ebbs and flows of a great tide that was taking over the social milieu of the time. Like a good glass of wine this novel should be savored.
ladybug74 on LibraryThing 25 days ago
The beginning of this book was just slightly slow to start for me, but once I got past the first few short chapters I delved right into it and devoured the rest of the book. This is the story of the artist / impressionist Claude Monet and his tragic love affair with Camille Doncieux. It is sad that these two struggled so much just to make ends meet when he would surely be a rich man if he was alive today. I enjoyed this book so much that I am now off to seek more by the same author.
JaneSteen on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Claude and Camille is about Claude Monet and his first wife (and before that long-time mistress), Camille Doncieux. It begins much earlier in Monet's life, at the point where he first began to paint in oils at the age of 17, and traces the early steps that led him to join forces with the group of painters that became known as the Impressionists. It ends somewhere in the middle of Monet's career, I think, at about the time he was starting to have some success but his finances were still extremely precarious.I enjoyed reading this book, although to me there was a big difference between the middle part of the book and the first and last 50 or so pages. The beginning and end of the novel seemed to have a somewhat documentary tone, perhaps because they were moving faster through the events of Monet's life. The part I really liked was the middle, where Monet was constantly struggling with the tension between remaining true to his artistic vision and providing for his family. I think Cowell brought out well how Monet lived for his art to the point of rejecting all other offers of work and, in effect, to the point where art became a destructive element in his personal life.I got a good sense of Monet's relationships with some of the other Impressionists, which is always interesting as we tend to see these painters studied in isolation with the other characters just dim figures in the background. I did a lot of reading about these people when I was writing a master's thesis on Zola and Henry James, and that whole society of artists, writers and intellectuals holds a fascination for me. In fact I would have liked to have seen more detail and more names, but then I suppose we would have had a different type of novel, and Cowell does a good job of sticking to her main focus, the relationship between Monet and Camille. All in all, it's an entertaining read.
jennsbookshelves on LibraryThing 25 days ago
When artist Claude Monet sees a young woman in a train station, it¿s love at first sight. Fate brings them together and Monet asks the young woman, bourgeoise Camille Doncieux, to be a model for his paintings. She agrees and the two ultimately fall in love. She leaves behind her fiance and her family and runs away with Monet. I know very little about the personal life of Monet. Cowell does an outstanding job of relaying this information via Camille and Monet¿s contemporaries, including Renoir, Bazille, and Pissaro. It was enlightening to see the struggle each of these now-famous artists went through to achieve status in the art world. Everyone is familiar with the term ¿struggling artist.¿ Cowell portrays just how desperate this struggle was in such a unique and vivid way.One of the many strong characters in this novel was Monet¿s good friend, Bazille. Bazille had a tremendous impact on Monet¿s success, for he served as both a close confidant and a financial supporter of Monet¿s work. Without Bazille, Monet had almost nothing.Camille is another unique and strong character in this novel. She was the muse for several of Monet¿s memorable paintings. Their relationship, while based on love, was constantly ridden with financial struggle. Her love for him was obvious, but on several occasions I detected a bit of emotional instability on her part.Monet himself was painted as a sensitive man, extremely dedicated to his passion. He gave up the financial comforts of living with his father to move to Paris to paint. Seeing this side of Monet was tremendously rewarding. Monet was an artistic genius, and seeing his faults and insecurities relayed how ¿normal¿ he really was.The strong characters and the relationship between each of them is without a doubt my favorite aspect of this novel. As mentioned, I never truly got an inside look at the life of such an important figure in art. Viewing Monet¿s life in this aspect was tremendously rewarding, something I am forever grateful for Cowell for presenting.I highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction. While the storyline is scattered with bits of history, the relationship between Monet and Camille transforms it into a well-rounded novel. Fans of art and the Impressionist movement would also find great benefit in reading this, as it provides social and emotional background on a very imporant figure in art history.
quadmama on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I was very excited to receive this book and have the opportunity to read/review [claude and Camille]. This was an interesting story based on historical facts regarding Monet his wife, Camille and their other famous friends. It was very interesting to read of all the struggles these amazing artists struggled through. I was glad I didn't look up the picture of the woman in the green dress until I finished the story. I had imagined Camille in a completely different way. I would recommend this book to those who are interested in historical fiction and the impressionist art movement.
dianaleez on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Through Impressionist Claude Monet¿s paintings, the world is familiar with the face and form of Camille Doncieux; she is the enigmatic blonde `Japanese¿ with fans, the striking Woman in Green Dress, the lonely girl with blue parasol atop a hill, and, of course, the patient mother sewing or reading in the garden with her small son.And she is the `Camille¿ of Stephanie Cowell¿s (Marrying Mozart) newest fictional biography, 'Claude and Camille: A Novel of Monet.'Cowell¿s novel is an imaginative look at their relationship. Monet¿s early years are often recounted: his personal and financial struggles, friendship with other young artists (Bazille, Renoir, Pissarro, et al)., and the sacrifices he was willing to make to further that art.But little is actually known about Camille. She and Monet met around 1866 when she modeled in Bazille¿s rented green dress for what would become Monet¿s first painting accepted for the French exposition. She probably abandoned a fiancé to live with Monet, bearing his first son out of wedlock, then marrying him in 1870. A second son followed and she died in 1879. From these bare bones, Cowell has created a fictive biography for Camille.Cowell¿s novel is set within the framework of an older Monet looking back on their relationship and himself wondering who the woman he so often painted really was.The strength of Cowell¿s novel lies in her choice of subject matter. The young Impressionists make fascinating reading. In some respects they are the rock stars of the art world. One can¿t help wondering how they interacted with each other. Was Monet aware of the sacrifices he was demanding of Camille or was he totally lost in his art? What was her relationship with his friends? Or Alice Hoschede, his mistress and later, his second wife, who nursed Camille through her final illness.Cowell creates an imaginary affair between Camille and one of the painters, which serves to provide much of the dramatic tension of the novel. She also depicts Camille as having a dysfunctional personality. Neither does Camille justice; this, as well as Cowell¿s less than inspiring prose style, are my major criticisms of the novel.Three and a half stars. ' Claude and Camille' lacks the drama and vivacity necessary to appeal to many readers of historical fiction and the veracity to appeal to more serious readers.
Laurenbdavis on LibraryThing 25 days ago
A great read. A love story and examination of an artist's commitment and devotion to passion and his work. Wonderful details of the era and snippets into the intersecting lives of the French Impressionists. Recommended.
kmaziarz on LibraryThing 25 days ago
While waiting for the train taking him to military training, young and frustrated artist Claude Monet spies a lovely young woman in tears. Captivated by her energy, he sketches her quickly, little realizing that she will one day become his muse and partner. It is several years before he re-encounters her working in a bookshop and manages to convince her to pose for him, thus beginning a whirlwind romance between the two. Camille Doncieux is a young woman of good family, with good prospects, and her parents vehemently disapprove of her relationship with Claude Monet¿at that time a penniless artist struggling for recognition while remaining true to his new, and unpopularly revolutionary, painting style. But Camille perserveres in her affection for Claude, becoming his lover, the mother of his child, and, eventually, his wife. It is in many ways a happy life. They are wrapped in the bosom of their friendships¿fellow struggling artists Auguste Renoir, Edouard Manet, Frederic Bazille, Camille Pissaro, Paul Cezanne, and Edgar Degas, among others, share studio space and provide affection and support for each others¿ work. However, it is not an easy life for Camille and Claude, despite their great love. Claude is constantly broke and living beyond his means, living on credit, the kindness of friends, and sporadic income from sold paintings. Camille is moody and turbulent at times, frustrated in her own artistic ambitions and crushed under the weight of childcare and long separations from Claude. But their love is so great that they persevere together, with Claude eventually painting Camille¿s last moments in a controversial work that is today considered one of his greatest.Touching, and rich with historical detail, Claude & Camille is enjoyable on many levels. Those with an interest in the life of one of Impressionism¿s greatest painters will find much to engage their curiosity, as will those with a broader interest in the historical time period and place.
Letter4No1 on LibraryThing 25 days ago
You've probably heard of Claude Monet, the painter, does lots of flowers and lily pads? Well this is the story of how he became the impressionist that is known and loved. He struggles with his art, with his friends and of course with his love life. He meets Camille, who turns out to be the love of his life, but does she have a secret? Though they come from different classes and have a difficult life today they are truly in love.I was pleasantly surprised with this novel. I'm a huge fan of historical fiction, and if you share that love this is most likely a story for you. Told entirely from Monet's perspective you get a real feel for the life of a poor artist in Paris. It was interesting to see the interactions of Monet with his other artists friends, like Renoir, Cezanne, Dega's and Manet.. Monet is a flawed character, and his drive to paint nearly costs him everything on several occasions. While this isn't the most original story it was good and engaging. Like i said, if you're a fan of the likes of Chevalier and Vreeland this is a novel for you.
txwildflower on LibraryThing 25 days ago
The story of the great painter Claude Monet and the woman he loved Camille Doncieux. Always struggling to make ends meet they move from one place to another, never having the money to pay the rent but the love of painting always calls out to him. When he has no money for paint or brushes he scrapes and cleans an old painting and starts anew. A fascinating read and one where you won't forget the characters for a long time.
sringle1202 on LibraryThing 25 days ago
I received this book from the Read It Forward program. Simply put, I loved it! I think it is a beautiful story. It is not your traditional love story, but that is what I love about it. It is more believable than the traditional mushy love story. I think the relationship between Monet and Camille is very easy to relate to. It was intriguing to take a peek into the life of such an important and respected artist, and see a side of him that maybe people wouldn't associate with him, because all they can see is the art. I look forward to reading more book by this author. It also piqued my interest in the world of art and its masters.
bookmagic on LibraryThing 25 days ago
my review: I enjoyed reading about Monet and the life of the impressionists in Paris. The writing was lovely, though the dialogue a bit pedantic. this was unfortunate as otherwise, the book would have been quite good.I think the author did a good job of focusing on the relationship between Monet and Camille, and just touching upon the many other artists that make an appearance, such as Degas, Cezanne, Renoir, Manet, Pissaro, and Baztille. Though Bazille plays a large role, the rest are minor characters. I'm not sure I found Monet likable, more whiny than anything, but again that was most likely due to the dialogue. I'm not sure that is how the author meant to portray him. I think I would have preferred a story focusing on the painters as I did not find it particularly romantic. But it was a nice piece of historical fiction featuring an artist, who's work I love.my rating 3.5/5
LiteraryLinda on LibraryThing 25 days ago
"Claude & Camille" is a historical novel about the painter Claude Monet and his love Camille. Claude joins his painter friends in Paris trying to get their work recognized. They have a difficult time finding buyers and so live a life of poverty. Claude and Camille fall madly in love, although their life of poverty and bitter opposition from their families tests their love. There is great success and great tragedy, camaraderie, and wonderful art. You will want to go online to see the art. I enjoyed the book very much and learned so much about the struggles of the Impressionists.
pamelade More than 1 year ago
Loved this story!  Such insight into the art world during the late 1800s.
KLS500 More than 1 year ago
It's been a very long time since I've enjoyed a book more than this one! I had the pleasure of visiting the house, gardens and stunning lily pond of Monet at Giverny, and to think of him as an old man remembering his one true love here really touched my soul. This book is beautifully written and for anyone who enjoys Impressionism art mixed with a rich tapestry of word pictures, this is a never to be forgotten story and a jewel of a book.
SallyPinkReviews More than 1 year ago
Cowell pens a poignant tale full of spirit and the drive to succeed with "Claude and Camille," the story of Monet and the muse that was his wife, Camille Doncieux. The novel opens with a young Monet living on the French coast in a town called Le Havre. His father owns a nautical store and makes a modest living. Monet is known for his caricatures, but his older friend, Boudin, soon interests him in landscapes. Monet goes to study in Paris against his father's wishes. Monet's artistic talent grows and he soon makes friends: Manet, Bazille, Renoir, and Pissarro. While talented, the struggling artist and his friends live in abject poverty. Camille Doncieux soon captures young Monet's attention. Camille is from a well-to-do family and is engaged. Monet hungers to paint her and convinces her to accompany him and his friend, Bazille, to the countryside. They stay there for a week and then Camille is gone. Monet can't forget her. When he sees her months later, he convinces her to pose for him again, this time in a green dress. Shortly after that, Camille becomes his lover and forsakes her well-do-do life. Monet loves Camille deeply, but he's so poor, he can't give her the life that she's left behind. As Monet struggles to find success as an artist, will Camille stay with him or go back to the secure, yet dull life she led before? Cowell has captured the life and times of Monet with an uncompromising pen - embodying Monet's own uncompromising artistic nature. The story flows in a liner fashion for the most part with brief interludes to the end of Monet's life as he paints water lilies. Cowell makes the reader feel as if they are there, in the moment, painting alongside Monet, the writing is a bit weighty, which slows the story down in some places and makes for a slow, careful read so the reader doesn't miss something. Cowell does a riveting job showing the reader the many facets of Claude and Camille. Both are determined and driven, yet both are haunted - Monet by the fear of failure, Camille, by a lack of security. Cowell paints the setting, Paris/France in the mid 1800's, as vividly as a Monet landscape. Both Monet and Camille come across as real, with Cowell depicting them in their finest and weakest moments. Both love passionately, yet their insecurities are ones that many can sympathize with. "Claude and Camille" is a fascinating read, taking a look at the roots of impressionism and the love that inspired a true artist.
txwildflower More than 1 year ago
A wonderful story about the great painter Claude Monet and his love Camille. Told when the painter was in his seventies and looking back on his life, the hardships and the poverty that they endured and his love for his painting. A great selection for book clubs. txwildflower-ReadItForward
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TheIntrovertedReader More than 1 year ago
I started reading this not knowing anything about Monet except that I used to have a print of one of his works hanging in my bedroom. I also don't know much about art except that I know what I like. I have enjoyed reading fiction about art and artists in the past, so I thought I'd give this a try. It was okay. It is always amazing to me that artists who are generally accepted to be--I don't know, geniuses?--had to struggle so hard to be recognized back when they first started out, and sometimes even throughout their entire lives. I guess that just goes to show that people are slow to accept change. The main reason that this got three stars is that it's written in a style that's not really for me. It felt like the author tried to stick very closely to the facts, which I do respect, but that made it feel more like I was reading a biography rather than fiction. I read very, very little non-fiction, so that wasn't a style that worked for me. I did enjoy reading about Monet's relationships with the other early Impressionists. I had no idea that all these guys hung out together. Reading a list of Monet's friends is like reading a "Who's Who" of the art world. Renoir, Pissarro, Degas, Manet, Cézanne--I know there are more that I'm forgetting. I found myself wishing that I could read more about those relationships. What was included was good and taught me a lot, I just wanted more. I was really curious about Frédéric Bazille. I've never heard of him, but he was a fascinating character. There was always a lot going on behind the scenes with him, and I really wanted to know more. I do always find myself wishing that publishers would just go ahead and print reproductions of the works in books about art. I knew a few of the paintings that were mentioned, and I would probably recognize more if I saw them, but it would be nice to be able to see Monet's Water Lilies series as I read about it. This was a good book, there were just a few things that could have made it better for me. I know that not everyone's taste is the same as mine, so there are readers who will enjoy this a lot. Die-hard fans of Monet and readers who regularly read biographies will be among them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago