Friday, February 22, 2013

Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore

You'll never look at Toulouse-Lautrec's art the same way again ... comedy genius Christopher Moore has orchestrated a perfect blend of history and fiction in this tale of the Parisian art scene during the late 1800s.

It all boils down to the color blue: it's the most expensive and rare of materials used in the art world (that's why it was reserved for the Virgin Mary). But apparently someone is targeting artists, and the weapon may be in the paint.

Painter/baker Lucien Lessard (fictional) and his friend, artist Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (real) play detective in an attempt to reveal the art-world conspiracy .. between cognacs and making the bread, of course. All the big players of the day make character appearances here: Renoir, Seurat, Manet, Monet, Pisarro, Van Gogh.

It's a funny book, but also thoughfully designed to consider the questions of an artist's inspiration, mental illness, debauchery, and creativity.

A note on formats: the first edition of this book was printed with navy blue text and includes full-color pictures of many of the paintings mentioned in the book. The print book also includes a postscript by the author explaining truth vs. fantasy and where he got his inspiration. You'll miss those things if you listen to the audiobook - but the narration by Euan Morton is phenomenal and brings lots of emphasis and nuance to things I may have missed in the reading.

(Yes - I both listened to and read this book. I'm a geek, I know.)

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