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Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art

Title: Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art
Author: Christopher Moore
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 
 April 3, 2012
Reviewer: Ethan

Summary: Absolutely nothing is sacred to Christopher Moore. The phenomenally popular New York Times-bestselling satirist, whom the Atlanta Journal-Constitution calls “Stephen King with a whoopee cushion and a double-espresso imagination,” has already lampooned Shakespeare, San Francisco vampires, marine biologists, Death... even Jesus Christ and Santa Claus.

In his latest novel, the immortal Moore takes on the Great French Masters. A magnificent “Comedy d’Art” from the author of Lamb, Fool and Bite Me, Moore’s Sacre Bleu is part mystery, part history (sort of), part love story, and wholly hilarious as it follows a young baker-painter who joins the dapper Henri Toulouse-Lautrec on a quest to unravel the mystery behind the supposed suicide of Vincent van Gogh

Review: Throughout his career, author Christopher Moore has garnered critical and commercial success for his novels. His inherent wit and ability to create rich characters within fantastic stories has captured the attention of many readers. Although I had never read anything by Moore, I was intrigued by the premise of his latest effort, Sacre Bleu, in which he set out to write a novel about the color blue.

The year is 1890, and the news of infamous painter Vincent van Gogh's death has quickly spread throughout Paris. Lucien Lessard, a baker turned painter, can hardly believe the news. He has been part of the French art scene for years, and has experienced, first-hand, the brilliance and madness of the late artist. No stranger to depression himself, Lucien feels sadness for the loss of a great artist, and recalls the sadness he felt when his beloved Juliette left to London without any further contact with him.

As Lucien discusses Vincent's death with his friend, painter Henri Fantin Latour, he surprised to see a familiar face. Juliette, the woman who inspired him to paint only to break his heart, has returned from London. Despite his shock and bitterness, the relationship quickly picks up where it left off. Soon Juliette is posing as Lucien paints what is sure to be his masterpiece. For this painting, he acquires a special blue, Sare Bleu, or the color of the Virgin Mary, from the mysterious Colorman. When Lucien uses the paint, time seems to stand still and he is riddled with a strange loss of memory. Henri begins to worry about his friend and recalls his own experience with similar time and memory altering instances. All of which occurred while painting his own lover and using the mysterious Sacre Bleu. As the novel progresses, Lucien and Henri discover the prominence of blue paint and peculiar behaviors in the lives of many famous artists. It quickly becomes apparent that The Colorman and his paint have malicious intentions and could even have been responsible for the death of some of art's most prominent figures. Now Lucien and Henri must try to stop The Colorman before they too become the victims of this vicious Sacre Bleu.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel. Moore obviously researched this novel, but took lots of liberty with the facts to turn what could have been a stuffy art lesson into a highly entertaining story. There is a lot going on in this story, but every aspect is presented in a way that eventually brings clarity to the events. The story does take a bit of time to get off the ground, probably because I was trying to figure out what the point of the book really was, but the action kicks into high gear after about a hundred pages. Overall, this novel will probably divide readers, but anyone looking for a definitely "out of the box" story should give this one a try.

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