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Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet

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3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  2,198 ratings  ·  344 reviews
Sometimes he dreamt he held her; that he would turn in bed and she would be there. But she was gone and he was old. Nearly seventy. Only cool paint met his fingers. “Ma très chère . . .” Darkness started to fall, dimming the paintings. He felt the crumpled letter in his pocket. “I loved you so,” he said. “I never would have had it turn out as it did. You were with all of u ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Crown (first published 2010)
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Community Reviews

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Chrissie
NO SPOILERS

Finished: This book has the momentum of a huge wave. It builds slowly but by the end it crashes down on the shore with a tremendous thunder that shakes you. I did not think the beginning very well prtrayed the relationship between Claude and Camille, but as you follow the story an understnading of their life, their troubles, their sorrows and their advances become real. At the end the tragedy of their life comes crashing down on you. At the beginning I was not entralled by the author'
...more
Elaine
What a waste of a perfectly fantastic topic! It was too, too 21st. century with the detailed sexual events, overly angst-ridden uncertainties, and the name-dropping (sort of like "so Pissaro passed the wine to Renoir, while Manet sipped, and Cezanne asked for more," if you can get my drift). I mean, come on! Why bother! It is called a novel in the sub-title, so don't confuse it with fictional biography, a stupid term. The attempt at using the French phrases is the worst I have ever seen, with so ...more
Judy
Picture this. A young artist sees a beautiful young girl and her sister at a depot. He doesn't forget the face of the youngest sister. Four years later, he sees the same young lady at a bookshop. Meet Claude and Camille.

I wanted to read this book because I love Monet's work and desired to learn about his life and influences. This novel gave a good historical view of Monet's friendship with Renoir, Cezanne, Manet, Degas and many others as well as his personal life. There are many areas that I'm
...more
Wendy
So, clearly I am in the minority here since I only gave this book 2 stars. I tried to put my finger on exactly what didn’t work for me in this story, especially compared to the book I just finished, Girl in Translation (which was terrific). What I ultimately came up with is that, unlike most of the other reviewers, I didn’t feel much emotional connection in this story. So many events were told to the reader in a dry, factual way that it robbed the events of any sense of immediacy or emotion. The ...more
Donna
I picked up this book at the airport bookshop on my way to France. I thought it would put me in a French frame of mind, but instead I found it as grating as the flight attendant's poorly-pronounced French.

Ms. Cowell may have visited Paris and Monet's Home in Giverny as part of her "research," but her knowledge of the language, culture, and artistic milieu of late 19th-century Paris is so superficial that she should have been embarrassed to tackle the subject. I enjoy historical fiction and parti
...more
Dianna Rostad
"If we can't risk anything, we can't have anything real." --Monet

The story of Claude Monet’s unbreakable resolve to paint in a world unprepared for his contemporary style. Cowell breaks down all the romantic, bohemian notions of artists with a stark picture of struggling painters, who batter their will and break their hearts against the emptiness of poverty and a wall of resistance in the Parisian art world.

Like a man in any century, Monet struggled to balance his career ambitions with the impe
...more
Kate
This is a novelization of the Impressionist artist, Claude Monet. It is similar in tone to The Paris Wife and the Aviator's Wife which are also novelizations of famous figures' lives. This story is told in the third person, focussing on Monet's point of view. It begins at age 17, when he realizes that he has a gift and is meant to be an artist as he cannot see himself doing anything else. He goes to Paris where he meets up with other artists, Renoir, Manet and Pissaro as well as the man who beco ...more
Zoe

Beautiful and bittersweet love story

Most muses are enigmatic, a face in a painting, a elegant and beautiful woman walking in the garden , or even inspiration behind a story . Unforgettable yet obscure, they fascinate modern admirers, and from "Birth of Venus" to "Flaming June" we are compelled to imagine them and postulate lives around them in the same way we yearn to solve a mystery, but Camille was a real and true one , she left her wealthy home to become his muse, his friend and wife , and
...more
Gary Inbinder
Stephanie Cowell is a wonderfully imaginative and engaging novelist. In "Claude and Camille" she uses elegant prose and descriptive detail in a compelling narrative, telling the story of young Monet and his first wife and model, Camille Doncieux. While the story of a struggling young artist and the woman who sacrifices wealth and social position to share her lover's hard life is a familiar one, Ms. Cowell tells it with great skill and fresh psychological insight. What's more, she re-creates the ...more
Brittany
I'm quite surprised by the glowing reviews this novel has received. Either I'm missing something, or I know too much. My intuition is telling me that this is again an instance when ignorance is bliss. If you begin this book thinking of waterlilies and pastels, I can see how it'd be pleasant. La di da, fine art, love story, struggling artist, burgeoning career, shades of violet... yeah. And I suppose if you're content with shallow happy things, you could leave it be. I however, am not one of thos ...more
Elizabeth Varadan
To read this gem of a novel is like entering an Impressionist painting and becoming immersed in its vibrant colors, glistening hilights, and hidden shadows. As a love story, it traces the arc of Claude Monet's life-long passion for Camille Doncieux, the woman who was his sweetheart, his muse, the mother of his two children, and, later, his wife.

But Claude and Camille also captures the love of artthat drives artists to pawn their few possessions for tubes of paint,borrow repeatedly from friends a
...more
Heather
Claude Monet was a struggling young artist who was part of a burgeoning movement – living from sale to sale of his artwork, collaborating with his fellow painters: Frederic Bazille, Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley. Camille Doncieux was a flowering young woman from the upper crust of society who was set to follow the path laid out for her by her parents – the way all respectable young women should. When these two accidentally cross paths, both of their lives change in ways that they could never ...more
Mercedes Rochelle
Loved it. This book was certainly a good read; it was a complicated love story that doesn't oblige the reader to spin any wheels wondering about the happy ending. We know from the beginning that there isn't one, because the elder Monet is still trying to make sense of what happened. What it does do is prepare us for questions that need to be answered, and encourages us to appreciate any fleeting moments of happiness that we suspect won't last.

Most of the book takes place in Monet's younger year
...more
Christy English
A beautiful novel of love and loss, and of love that can never be lost. I recommend this highly. A beautiful portrait of Claude Monet and the love of his life.
Chocolate & Croissants
Cher ami, the more I live, the more I regret how little I know.
-Claude Monet, In a letter to Frederic Bazille

Even before I opened the cover of Claude & Camille I knew that I would fall in love with author Stephanie Cowell’s latest novel. Cowell has painted her own canvas giving readers an unique look into Monet’s life.

I first became familiar with Monet as a 20 year old backpacking through Europe. My girlfriend was much more culturally aware than I as she dragged my from museum to museum in P
...more
Carey
"Sometimes he dreamt he held her; that he would turn in bed and she would be there. But she was gone, and he was old...."

This is one of the most powerful lines in this novel, and one of my favorites, right at the beginning, as an elderly Claude Monet remembers his first wife, his love, his muse, the beautiful but fragile Camille.

They met when he was a young painter, impoverished, full of hope and dreams and possessing fantastic friends, who are also fellow artists. But Claude had no money and li
...more
Kaye
I love Claude Monet's paintings and wanted to really know more about his life. The book is fiction but because I saw it for sale at the artists home and museum in Giverny, I have hopes that it is fairly accurate. Claude doesn't want to be a merchant like his father but instead wants to paint. With his paintings now selling for millions you forget that for his first 20 years of painting he was unsuccessful. Claude meets Camille who agrees to sit for him in a picnic scene and later in "the green d ...more
Misfit
The story begins in 1857 and is interspersed with "interludes" wherein the aging Claude Monet reflects back on his early life, when he is first drawn to the lure of painting. Despite the efforts of his family and a brief stint in the military, Claude is determined to return to Paris and paint, and when he does he meets Camille Doncieux whom he asks to model for him. That relationship between the two as they attempt to build a life together as well as the struggle to become a successful painter i ...more
Stephanie D.
"I have so much fire in me and so many plans. I always want the impossible. Take clear water with grass waving at the bottom. It's wonderful to look at, but to try to paint it is enough to make one insane."

Oh, to be young, poor, prodigiously gifted, yet unrecognized; this is the Claude Monet that Stephanie Cowell paints for us in Claude and Camille: A Novel of Monet. I don't know about you, but my vision of Monet was of an old, bearded man in a smock quietly painting his water lilies in Giverny.
...more
Marie
Apr 26, 2010 Marie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
The inspiration and the beauty behind Claude Monet's paintings have intrigued me for years. His impressionism style is a fantastically elegant thing that is really indescribable. When the news came that Stephanie Cowell was writing a novel about Claude and his lover Camille, I was so eager to get my inartistic hands on it. I had visited a Monet exhibit once in Las Vegas, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to go, but I wish I had spent a longer time there. Like for a few days, perhaps. But, t ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
What's the story?:

From Goodreads: "In the mid-nineteenth century, a young man named Claude Monet decided that he would rather endure a difficult life painting landscapes than take over his father’s nautical supplies business in a French seaside town. Against his father’s will, and with nothing but a dream and an insatiable urge to create a new style of art that repudiated the Classical Realism of the time, he set off for Paris.

But once there he is confronted with obstacles: an art world that ref
...more
Hattie
Stephanie Cowell
"He stood on the bridge. I am not done painting my lilies, he thought. There is always, as there is with love, more to say, but now I am tired and pleased."

If I were asked to tell what words first comes to mind when thinking about Monet, I would have to say water lilies. When I began reading Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell, I realized Claude Monet's life involved more than the beautiful water lilies he painted in Giverny. For example, I had never heard of the painting na
...more
Elena
Reading Claude and Camille, Stephanie Cowell's new novel about Monet, is like stepping into an artist's studio and finding oneself among the great Impressionists. The book captures the essence of la vie de Bohème, that life in which agony, struggle and turmoil are swiftly transformed into bliss, and vice versa. Renoir, Pissaro, Sisley, Bazille, Cézanne, Manet, Degas and Courbet are all there, sleeping on the floor, living on beans, wine, coffee and bread, avoiding the landlord, and celebrating e ...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
This is the story of Claude Monet; his great love, Camille Doncieux; and their life as they struggle together in the years before his fame.

I started reading this not knowing anything about Monet except that I used to have a print of one of his works hanging in my bedroom. I also don't know much about art except that I know what I like. I have enjoyed reading fiction about art and artists in the past, so I thought I'd give this a try.

It was okay. It is always amazing to me that artists who are ge
...more
Candice
May 29, 2010 Candice rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Alice
I won an uncorrected proof copy of this book from Read It Forward. I might not have read this if I hadn't won it, and I'm glad I did. It was a very good book, a fictional account of the artist Claude Monet and the love of his life, Camille. I have zero artistic talent, and not much background in art history, so I learned a lot. One thing that struck me was how this artist believed in himself. He and Camille lived much of their lives in poverty or near-poverty, waiting for his big break. I wonder ...more
Beth
How immersed one can get into fictionalized biography! Monet the artist is Claude; Camille is his love. The author puts us into the life of the group of artisits who worked together, lived their art, begged relatives and friends for money to live on, and created the paintings that gave us our beloved "Impressionists". I followed Claude and Camille throughout her life of love and lonliness crises with this self centered artist workaholic. The author seems to paint the story with words so I felt I ...more
Sherri
Susan Vreeland commented that this book should be read with a book of Monet's paintings by your side. I agree completely with this statement. If you have any interest in Monet's paintings, this book is like stepping inside Monet's mind and walking with him as he struggles as a young artist with an unconventional style, falling in love with a woman at the wrong time in his life. Fascinating reading about the circle of close friends struggling with poverty and giving everything to their painting - ...more
Nicole
This was a wonderful read. I so enjoyed learning about the burgeoning Impressionist community in Paris at the turn of the century. Still, I was a bit taken aback to learn that one of the major conflicts in this book was completely fictionalized (Hard to expound upon that without including spoilers.) I also felt that this historical novel seemed to ebb and flow, in the sense that there were parts that were slow and at times, even tedious, interspersed with parts that were riveting and simply unfo ...more
Kevin
As the title implies , the heart of this novel is the love story between Monet & Camille. And on that level it works very well. It is a really sweet love story. But there's more to this novel than just the love story. It also tells in harrowing detail, the financial struggles such now famous artists, as Monet, Renoir, Manet, Degas and others, had to go through before they became the renowned artist they are today. And what's so uplifting about the story is the way in which they all supported ...more
Sandy Crux
True, it was slow getting into the book in terms of Claude Monet's and Camille Doncieux's romance. However, readers did get a good introduction to the close relationship Monet would develop with fellow artist (and medical student) Frederic Bazille, particularly regarding the tension both had with their fathers regarding what they should do in life.

Bazille, for example, paid for the first studio he and Monet used and which was frequented by other Impressionists. As well, Bazille constantly loane
...more
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197596
I was born in NYC where I still live and fell in love with history and fiction when very young. For years I was a classical singer. I am the author of NICHOLAS COOKE, THE PHYSICIAN OF LONDON, THE PLAYERS, MARRYING MOZART, and CLAUDE & CAMILLE: A NOVEL OF MONET. I love Shakespeare, early and classical music and many things! I am married and have two sons....and I have many books in progress!"
More about Stephanie Cowell...
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“Sometimes he dreamt he held her; that he would turn in bed and she would be there. But she was gone and he was old. Nearly seventy. Only cool paint met his fingers. “Ma très chère . . .” Darkness started to fall, dimming the paintings. He felt the crumpled letter in his pocket. “I loved you so,” he said. “I never would have had it turn out as it did. You were with all of us when we began, you gave us courage. These gardens at Giverny are for you but I’m old and you’re forever young and will never see them. . . .” 3 likes
“Dull late-afternoon light glittered on the hanging copper pots in the kitchen where the old painter sat with his wine, smoking cigarette, a letter angrily crumpled on the table in front of him.” 2 likes
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