"L'Origine got me hookedwhat a story! Milgrom brings the reader right along on her adventures as a copyist of one of the most well-known paintings in all the world." Harriet Welty Rochefort, author of French Fried, French Toast, Joie de Vivre, and Final Transgression
"L'Origine is an apt title for Lilianne Milgrom's debut novel, since it is the painting itselfL'Origine du mondethat is the heroine of this vividly written, well-researched, and highly compelling book. Part historical fiction, part personal journey, L'Origine is an original story well worth reading." Barbara Linn Probst, awarding-winning author of Queen of the Owls: A Novel
"What a gorgeous, captivating novel: a tour de force! Who knew that a painting's provenance could make for such a profoundly moving and thought-provoking page-turner? I couldn't read fast enough and at the same time didn't want to reach the end. Milgrom has written a masterpiece." Joan Dempsey, author of the award-winning novel This Is How It Begins
"I LOVED this book! I love learning about art history and all things related to France, in addition to Milgrom's intimate and fascinating relationship with this work of art. I couldn't put this book down and will never look at art the same way againespecially L'Origine du monde." Krystal Kenney, Paris-based photographer and founder of La Vie Creative podcast.
"L'Origine is a vivid and well-told novel about one of the more notorious paintings in the history of art. Immaculately researched and full of verve, the book is a real achievement. The story is prefaced with a tale of the author's own: how she spent several weeks in the Musée d'Orsay making a painted copy of Courbet's original L'Origine du monde. When the narrative transports the reader back to nineteenth-century Paris and into Courbet's studio, we are already primed in the intimate and complex processes of the act of looking. One of the pleasures of the novel is that it celebrates the creative and erotic possibilities generated between an artist, their model, and the centuries-old act of looking. Five stars." Christopher P. Jones, historian and art critic
"There's nothing like a good story to grip a reader, and Milgrom's own tale of witnessing and emulating Gustave Courbet's L'Origine du monde is the perfect way to get intoand attempt to understandthis infamous masterpiece. Highly recommended for art history aficionados, Francophiles, and history and biography fans. It exposes readers who stand outside the normal confines of the art world to the fascinating world beyond the frame." Jennifer Dasal, podcast host of ArtCurious and author of ArtCurious: Stories of the Unexpected, Slightly Odd, and Strangely Wonderful in Art History
"Milgrom's novel is amazingly researched and a seamless mix of fiction and true history. She has written an extremely engaging book, like a thriller. I thoroughly enjoyed the parallel between the painting's odyssey and the condition of women throughout history." Sylvia A. Rodríguez, psychoanalyst in the Lacanian field and cofounder of the Australian Center for Psychoanalysis
"Throughout history, female sexuality has been regarded as ugly, repulsive, and shameful while simultaneously revered to the point of idolization. Lilianne Milgrom's intimate experience with Gustave Courbet's scandalous painting gives testament to the classic divide of women's cultural representation." Dr. Bella Ellwood-Clayton, sexual anthropologist, author, and TED Talk presenter
"Milgrom's book weaves her own experiences as a 'copiste' of the infamous painting, L'Origine du monde, with a deeply researched and engaging narrative retelling of its almost unbelievable journey from inception through to the present day. Part truth, part fiction, entirely enjoyable!" Lindsay Sheedy, art historian, Rome Prize recipient, founder of Stuff About Things podcast
"The author’s beautiful, generous prose about Paris and other settings is much like a verbal impressionist painting. Famous names abound and it is fascinating to imagine conversations between, for example, Monet and a reluctant art dealer of his day who still isn’t sure about investing in this ‘new impressionism.’ There is, of course, a corollary between this particular piece of art being passed between wealthy men and the similar fate suffered by countless women. But Milgrom reveals these men as complex characters, not so easily judged. Even so, the male gaze is on full display in its spectrum of desires, wanting to own the female form in the abstract as well as the corporeal.
For fans of historical fiction focused on the world’s great artworks, L’Origine delivers a story spiced with famous names, mystery, and sex. Author and visual artist Lilianne Milgrom carries readers along on this painting’s colorful journey, with a deliciously gleeful mix of fact and fiction that is very satisfying." —Kath Peters for IndieReader
“Milgrom masterfully layers art history, social history, biography, memoir, and fiction into this novel with the care and attention to detail of a master portrait artist . . . She manages to reveal a self-portrait within the portrait that rivals, in words, the brushstrokes of Courbet himself and echoes the meta-commentary of Caravaggio and Rembrandt. L’Origine marries historical analysis with artistic observation. Not since the works of Eugen Weber have I read such an engaging book of history.”—Judge, 29th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards, Honorable Mention