Tuesday, September 10, 2013

MONET - 'Claude and Camille', A Book Review

A story of hardship, and dedication to a dream; a man who seeks his art and finds a woman who inspires that art. This book is about the life and love of an artist, Claude Monet and his muse, Camille (Doncieux) Monet.

Claude and Camille, by Stephanie Cowell

 Claude and Camille
A Novel of Monet, by Stephanie Cowell

From his hometown of Le Havre, Claude Monet set out for Paris, to discover his fortune and escape working in his father's naval supply shop. He starts with art classes and meets fellow painters Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Frederick Bazille, and several others who will become close friends of Claude early in his Paris life.

He discovers the young Camille first in a train station, but he memorizes how she looked. Then, he sees her again in her uncle's bookstore. Drawn to her innocence, he asks her to model for a painting. The more he sees her, the more he becomes obsessed with painting her. The family is not pleased with her association with an artist. Camille follows Claude but yearns for the city life and her family, while Claude prefers the seashore and small villages where he can paint. He feels a failure at not being able to provide what Camille is used to. Cities and social events cost money. So does paint. They move frequently.

When Camille is 22 years old, she and Monet live in Montmartre along with Renoir and others. The struggles Monet and the Impressionists have to endure to have the new art accepted weigh heavily on the young couple. They are always scrabbling for a roof over their heads and food on the table. If not for the generosity of some family and friends of the artists, Claude, Camille and many others would have fared worse.

Stephanie Cowell weaves a tale of truth and fiction that will wrap around your heart. In Claude and Camille, we learn what 'starving artists' means in the late 1800s, just as we see the unrelenting judgment of an artistic society who ensured these Impressionists would be excluded. One had to conform. Cowell shows the indecision that must befall performers of every sort. Recommended.


Have you read this book? Did you know the model in many of Monet's paintings was his wife? If not, do you like this time period - late 1800s to early 1900s? Do you read biographies of artists, writers, etc.?

Please share in the comments, and thanks for dropping by. More information at the links below.


Claude Monet - Impressionist Artist

More about the artist

More about the author - Stephanie Cowell
http://www.stephaniecowell.com/index.htm Home Page

Claude and Camille, published by Crown Publishers, a division of Random House, 2010.