Summary and book reviews of Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman

Vincent and Theo

The Van Gogh Brothers

by Deborah Heiligman

Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman X
Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2017, 464 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2019, 464 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

From the author of National Book Award finalist Charles and Emma comes an incredible story of brotherly love.

The deep and enduring friendship between Vincent and Theo Van Gogh shaped both brothers' lives. Confidant, champion, sympathizer, friend - Theo supported Vincent as he struggled to find his path in life. They shared everything, swapping stories of lovers and friends, successes and disappointments, dreams and ambitions. Meticulously researched, drawing on the 658 letters Vincent wrote to Theo during his lifetime, Deborah Heiligman weaves a tale of two lives intertwined and the extraordinary love of the Van Gogh brothers.

1.

TWO BROTHERS, ONE APARTMENT, PARIS, 1887

There was a time when I loved Vincent very much, and he was my best friend, but that's over now.

—Theo van Gogh to his sister Willemien, March 14, 1887

THEO'S BROTHER VINCENT has been living with him for just over a year, and Theo cannot take it anymore.

It is "almost intolerable for me at home," he writes to their sister Wil in March 1887. Even though Theo has moved them to a larger apartment, this one still feels too small to hold Vincent's outsized personality and Theo's desperate need for quiet. He's dying to tell Vincent to move out, but he knows if he does, Vincent will just be more determined to stay.

Dogged. Contrary. Stubborn. Vincent.

Theo van Gogh is the manager of Goupil & Cie, a successful art gallery on the fashionable Boulevard Montmartre in Paris. Theo is good at his job, but it's terrifically frustrating for him right now. The owners of the gallery want him to sell paintings in the ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The book is marketed to 14- to 18-year-olds, but I noticed no simplification or deliberate toning down of the content; for instance, it's mentioned that at different points both brothers disgraced themselves by being found with prostitutes. In both style and structure, this is a highly original biography. There is a fair bit here that will feel familiar to those who have read about Vincent before. A significant swath in the middle gets bogged down in his unrequited love affairs and failed ventures. That said, Vincent and Theo is beautifully written and succeeds in being much more creative than your average biography. It is likely to foster a deep and abiding appreciation for art, especially in teens...continued

Full Review (741 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Rebecca Foster).

Media Reviews

Toronto Star
Passion, intimacy and family love propel this masterful, suitably impressionistic portrait of the relationship of artist Vincent Van Gogh and his brother Theo...thorough familiarity with the brothers’ copious correspondence; sensitivity and originality in reading it, and alertness to the imaginative afterlife of seemingly simple exchanges make this revelatory, compulsive reading. Highly recommended.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Heiligman tells the brothers' story in short chapters, sometimes just scenes, and occasionally offers what she calls "croquis" (sketches) to give a better sense of 'someone whose whole being cannot be captured on paper in one steady view. Like Theo'.

Booklist
Starred Review. This illuminating glimpse into the van Goghs' turbulent life and historical period will add compelling depth to readers' understanding of the iconic painter.

School Library Journal
Starred Review. A breathtaking achievement that will leave teens eager to learn more. Libraries would be wise to purchase a volume of the brothers' letters along with this book.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. A remarkably insightful, profoundly moving story of fraternal interdependence and unconditional love.

Reader Reviews

Pineapple

Great!!!
This book is very interesting. I have learned so much about Vincent Van Gogh. I picked it up because I needed to do a book report but, I couldn't put it down.

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

A Van Gogh Reading List

Deborah Heiligman's Vincent and Theo draws on the hundreds of letters that passed between the Van Gogh brothers. There are various editions of Vincent's letters, including a 2009 version endorsed by the Van Gogh Museum that contains all Van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo. The letters between Theo and his wife, Johanna, are also available in translation as Brief Happiness (1999), and Jo left a short memoir of Vincent.

Here are four more books, not limited to the young adult genre, that allow for further reflection and/or speculation about Vincent van Gogh's career and character.

Sunflowers by Sheramy Bundrick

Sunflowers A young prostitute seeking temporary refuge from the brothel, Rachel awakens in a beautiful garden in Arles, France, to ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Vincent and Theo, try these:

  • In Byron's Wake jacket

    In Byron's Wake

    by Miranda Seymour

    Published 2020

    About this book

    A masterful portrait of two remarkable women, revealing how two turbulent lives were always haunted by the dangerously enchanting, quicksilver spirit of that extraordinary father whom Ada never knew: Lord Byron.

  • Leonardo da Vinci jacket

    Leonardo da Vinci

    by Walter Isaacson

    Published 2018

    About this book

    More by this author

    He was history's most creative genius. What secrets can he teach us? The author of the acclaimed bestsellers Steve Jobs, Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin brings Leonardo da Vinci to life in this exciting new biography.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Code Breaker
    The Code Breaker
    by Walter Isaacson
    What makes humans human? It's a mystery that has inspired philosophers and driven scientific ...
  • Book Jacket: Genesis
    Genesis
    by Guido Tonelli
    Popular science books represent an important niche in non-fiction. They build a bridge between ...
  • Book Jacket: Buses Are a Comin'
    Buses Are a Comin'
    by Charles Person, Richard Rooker
    Charles Person was just 18 years old in 1961 when he became the youngest of the first wave of '...
  • Book Jacket: Firekeeper's Daughter
    Firekeeper's Daughter
    by Angeline Boulley
    Angeline Boulley's young adult novel Firekeeper's Daughter follows 18-year-old Daunis — ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Of Women and Salt
by Gabriela Garcia
A kaleidoscopic portrait of generations of women from a 19th-century Cuban cigar factory to the present day.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Crossing the River
    by Carol Smith

    A powerful exploration of grief that combines memoir, reportage, and lessons in how to heal.

  • Book Jacket

    A Theater for Dreamers
    by Polly Samson

    A spellbinding tour-de-force about the beauty between naïveté and cruelty, artist and muse.

Who Said...

A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A S I T closet

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.