What do you get when you mix the Impressionist painters, mysterious deaths, time travel, life in fin de siècle Paris and irreverent humor? You get Christopher Moore’s new novel, Sacre Bleu. As a lover of art history and historical fiction, I enjoyed traveling back to fin de siècle Paris when Impressionist painting was in its infancy. If that wasn’t interesting enough, Moore ‘s story is interwoven with time travel and stories about the mysterious Colorman, and the Colorman’s dubious influence upon artists throughout the ages. Humorously clever, I enjoyed how the humor was intricately woven into the historical and not so historical facts of the period.
Rated of 5
by Margaret D. (VT)
Huge amount of fun!
This is a colorful, twisting art(ist) mystery. An earthy combination of art history and fantasy that kept me seated quite happily through several wintery days. I shall seek out Christopher Moore's earlier works.
Rated of 5
by William E. (Honolulu, HI)
19th Century French Art Through a Black Hole
What a ride. If you like Moore and you are fascinated by late 19th Century French do I have a book for you! What happens when a French painter trained by Pissaro teams up with Henri Toulouse Lautrec on trying to figure out the power of the color blue used in paintings and stained glass portraying the Virgin Mary....having said that what really happened to Vincent Van Gogh in that field? And oh by the way, the Pissaro student is a baker on Montmatre....and the mysterious Colorman...this review is making me write in all of these dependent and independent clauses which kind of is the way you should read the book....Recommended? Absolutely....
Rated of 5
by Daniel A. (Naugatuck, CT)
This is my first time reading this author, and I must say he is quite a storyteller. I know very little about French art masterpieces and their artists in the 1890's, or for that matter, art in general; it doesn't matter because I still enjoyed reading this book, AND I gained some knowledge about art in doing so. This book is also laugh out loud funny. I couldn't help myself whenever "le Professeur" appears in the story; the character makes me laugh out loud, to much embarrassment when I read this book in public. The bottom line is you must read this book. It is a very good read.
Rated of 5
by Aleta S. (Bainbridge Island, WA)
Murder, passion, mystery, humor, history, beauty, and magic: something for everyone, but too much for some. Profanity, addiction, fornication and other debaucheries abound (but so do reproductions of great masterpieces). The outrageous bits have the benefit of good context, aren’t gratuitous and are usually funny, if not hilarious.
Sacré Bleu was my very ADULT forklift out of a funk. Although reality meets impossibility along the way, turning the last page leaves little doubt that wanting more Christopher Moore is no fiction.
Rated of 5
by Karen M. (Great Falls, VA)
Very good storyteller
I have always wanted to read a Christopher Moore book. His reviews are nearly always positive. His work is considered witty, humorous and a bit of a satire. I thought we might have a current day Oscar Wilde on our hands. So, it was with great enthusiasm I asked for an ARC from Bookbrowse in order to read his latest "masterpiece" (says the book jacket), Sacré Bleu.
Christopher Moore can tell a great story. One that you don't want to put down. He can write funny dialogue; in this case, the banter between Henri Toulous-Lautrec and Lucien Lessard is first-rate. The central conceit of the book surrounds a supernatural phenomenon that is causing all the painters of the time -- van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Pissaro and Cezanne to paint their finest work using the color "sacré bleu." This color comes from a mysterious Colorman and an equally curious but enchanting woman who poses for these artists. These men feverishly create masterworks during months of infatuation with their models accompanied by loss of time, no memory of painting these works, and unbelievable sex. The Roman Catholic Church wants this particular shade of blue to be used exclusively for the painting of the Virgin Mary's clothes. Thus the name, translated from French, as "the sacred blue." Obviously, it's inspiring other unforgettable and racy uses for the painters of Paris who feel compelled to use it.
Of course, Moore can't ignore the joke in the title, for "sacré bleu" is considered a curse or more importantly, a profanity, in french. Loosely translated, it is the exclamation "My God." Wikipedia will tell you it's rarely used in French-speaking countries, but the word was taught to me in my high school French III class in 1970's America. Profanity is a surprise player in this book. I am caught up in the story, and then one of the characters says "shag," or "bugger,"not terms found in late 18th century France, and it derails me. It takes me out of the experience and lands me right back in the present day. Why would Moore do it? It felt as if he is an adolescent saying naughty words just to shock and/or mess with the readers' heads. Perhaps he doesn't want you to take the subject matter and the characters too seriously. I suppose if you love movies or TV shows where there is a lot of burping and farting, then it's funny. But I wonder why would he insert English cuss words into the great French painters' mouths? Maybe I missed the memo that told me that these words are considered funny outside of England.
With the above caveat, I would recommend this book to anyone who would love to read a mystery with a supernatural twist set in the late 1800s in Paris. There is even a bit of time travel, always a plus. Famous artists are creating very recognizable works of art and Moore puts you in the room with the painters. We find out about the masters' sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, lovers, and wives. I have read several books about this time of tremendous creativity combined with perhaps a little debauchery a la Moulin Rouge, and I found Moore's twisted fantasy to still be informative and fun. It's clear that Moore did his research and shares his knowledge in a delightful and engrossing narrative. I finished it in a day, and I intend to immediately check out all of Moore's other work. If the subject matter is of interest, I'll buy and read the book. And now that I know his characters may have a case of Tourette's Syndrome, I'm prepared.
Rated of 5
by Mary G. (Purcellville, VA)
Sacre Bleu is a fun read
I am a huge fan of Christopher Moore so I was excited to be selected to review his latest book, Sacre Bleu. While not as laugh out loud funny as some of his other works, Sacre Bleu is still highly original and entertaining. It is probably the quirkiest art history you will ever read.
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