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Light

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  169 ratings  ·  27 reviews
"A day in the life of Claude Monet in the summer of 1900...a luminous prose poem of a novel...unhurried, richly descriptive, rarely ornamental or excessive—indeed, a kind of impressionism in words."
The New York Times Book Review (as quoted on the back cover)
Mass Market Paperback, 121 pages
Published September 12th 1984 by Ballantine Books
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3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  169 ratings  ·  27 reviews


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Marita
Moments of
Light and dark
Sorrow and joy
Dawn and dusk
Old and young
Death and eternity

I was struck by the number of contrasts in this story about a day in the life of Monet at Giverny. There is Monet's eager response to the dawn as opposed to that of Alice. Each one in this short novel responds in different ways to the events of the day, hence my mention of sorrow and joy, light and dark, etc. there is also nature versus modern inventions, Monet's assertiveness versus his family's submissiveness and
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Stephen P
May 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: interiority
A book of impressionistic psalms to the presence and fading of time through the eyes of an aging Monet. I assumed this would be the totality of the book when I purchased it. Figes had this idea plus others. I gripped my chair through the rapid changing of point of view, the scenery, Monet, the complexity of each moment and each person in his family during one sunny day.

Short at 91 pages Figes slips into the rapid weave of her story with a deftness to be admired even as I read, reading slowly to
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Kathleen
A day in the life of Monet, but so much more. It’s not just about the painter’s observations, but also those of all the family members around him, as seen through their different states of mind.

The writing is lovely--the way noticed details provide a richness that reveals a character’s inner life. Through all of the description, a story evolves.

Monet’s wife Alice is depressed. It has been a year since her daughter died, leaving two small children for Alice and her older children to tend to whil
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Roger Brunyate
 
Language. People. Painting.


Suzanne Hoschedé (d. 1899)

1. Language.

Eva Figes' 1983 novella is a tribute to two people. Most obviously to Claude Monet, taking as its entire subject a day in the life of the painter and his family at their home in Giverny. But also to Virginia Woolf: for her time-frame of a single day (Summer, 1900); for her willingness to write a novel entirely of perception and feelings, without external action; and especially for her use of language less for factual communicatio
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Hannah
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 Stars

This book didn't do much for me but there some moments of lovely writing - particularly those scenes describing Giverny. The back of this book says it's a novel - it is most definitely not. It's less than 150 pages and anyone who looks at it can tell it's not a novel. It's a day-in-the-life at Giverny with Monet and Company. Overall nothing really happens and is quite dull but I suppose all of our daily lives, if we read them written down, would read quite dull as well. It's a quick rea
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Patricia Bracewell
This book takes place over the course of one day. The author strains to draw pictures with words. It's almost as if she put a series of Monet's paintings in front of her and proceeded to write about them. "Almost square, a total balance between water and sky. In still water all things are still. Cool colours only, blue fading to mist grey, smooth now, things smudging, trees fading into sky, melting water."

There was a lot of that.

We experience this day - its light, its small trials and large gri
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Sarah
Sep 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
In brief summary: It's a series of moments—sense impressions, really—with metaphorical significance. A strong feminist thread runs throughout. Occasionally, it did hit that perfect note. (Monet's wife Alice was written quite well.) But, overall, this fell a bit flat in my opinion. I liked it better the first time I read it when it was called To the Lighthouse. *drops the mic*
Jackie
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-deck
“He has been wrong to think of light as a veil, playful and shimmering, between him and solid things...He had to look through things now, since nothing is solid, to show how light and those things it illumines are both transubstantial, both tenuous” (115).

A truly beautiful book, one that parallels the ever-shifting light over Monet’s Giverny home and lily pond with the little evolutions that happen within the artist and his family. As much as I love Monet’s work, I’m glad the book didn’t center
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Reuben
Dec 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: female, fiction, german
Parts of this book are utterly stunning. And I loved the understated discourse on gender relations. In the end I think the subject matter just wasn't for me--but damn can Figes write when she wants to. Will be picking up more of her in the future.
Niki Tulk
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading a novel that replaced "action" with the flowing, tremulous, ever-changing journey of light: across the land around Giverny, across (and reflecting) the lives of the central characters of Claude Monet and his family. The writing was deft and poetic, and I reveled in the dreamy sadness of the novella. Light was a character as well as key element in this work, and this made it an unusual and refreshing reading experience for me.
Patricia
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this in conjunction with the Humanities class at work. If it is possible it reads like a Monet painting. It is a stream of consciousness novel about a day in the life of Monet at Giverny. The language is stunning. If you close your eyes you can picture his paintings. What a gift to be able to write like that!
Ria
Oct 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To the credits on the back cover, "A luminous prose poem" and "A small masterpiece" I can only add "An exquisite haiku". This beautiful novella describes one day in the life of Claude Monet, his family and his friends. I have visited Giverney and now, thanks to Eva Figes, I can almost imagine they were there. "Was it yesterday, or a century ago?".
Patrick Ewing
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the most beautiful novels I've ever read.
Jeffrey
Sep 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sublime - a masterful portrait of a day in the life of Claude Monet and family at Giverny - it is luminescent!
Angie Fehl

This is a quick little novella, just 122 pages, that looks at what a day in the life of artist Claude Monet might have been like. The reader not only sees things from his perspective but also that of his wife, house servants, and extended family members living in the Monet home. The opening scenes bring us into the home just before dawn and take us through sunset, all the while making note of where the light hits throughout the day and what thoughts it inspires in those observing the light. Ther
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Heather
Mar 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I found Light on the sidewalk and brought it home on the strength of the back cover blurb, a quote from The New York Times Book Review that says the book is "a luminous prose poem of a novel" and also calls it "unhurried" and "richly descriptive." I'd never heard of Figes, and have never been particularly interested in Monet, who is the book's subject (though someone, probably my mom, bought me a copy of Linnea in Monet's Garden when I was a kid and I remember liking it well enough). Maybe my ...more
David Ranney
He felt as though the world he knew was drawing away from him, that he could hold neither shadow nor light, which had changed to something far more mysterious. The remaining sunlight had detached itself from the shadows, and now it clung to the very texture of things, leaf flower grass, had become part of it, even of wood or stone, so that those things which it still lit had become insubstantial, luminous from within. He strolled along the grass verge, saying his habitual goodbye to shrubs and
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Kristal Cooper
The flower garden and water lily pond at Monet's home in Giverny are some of my favorite places on earth. I hoped this book would spend the majority of its time describing the grounds and how Monet himself saw it. Unfortunately, too much of the story is about his family and current affairs. I'm sure some people will love this book for its snapshot of the times, but I was just hoping for something different. I will say, this book is a very nice example of Creative Writing.
Chris
Jun 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Beautiful, descriptive writing. The novel is not necessarily meant to be plot-driven. This reminded me of Mrs. Dalloway, being "a day in the life of..." Claude Monet and his family. Worth a read if only to experience a great women's lib author's descriptive talents. You will imagine every leaf and petal, every ripple of water and dapple of sunlight, perfectly in the hands of Figes.
Charles Bechtel
May 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A curious book to which, for some reason, I keep returning. I've written single-day stories and a 40-hour novel myself, so share with her the difficulties of maintaining a tale in such a compressed time frame. Had a big impact on two chapters of my second book. A recommended read to people who like discovering uncommon novels.
Elizabeth Simons
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great timing in reading this in NY, seeing Monet paintings at Met and MOMA. It's a fictionalization of Monet's life in later years when he's obsessed with his garden and painting it in the changing light. Told from varying points of view of his extended family members and servants.
Becky
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: art lovers
Shelves: beloved, favorites
This little book is poetic art; the words almost melt in your mouth. The author captures the essense of light and its changes at reflected in Monet's paintings. If you can ever find this out-of-print treasure, snap it up and you will be richly rewarded.
Judas
Jan 04, 2016 rated it did not like it
The only light I could think of while reading Light was the light at the end of the tunnel after wanting to drown myself, both in whiskey and in the bath.
Paul Llave
Oct 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Beautifully written
Feliks
Jun 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: international
One of the best 'short books' you could ask for...
Gaz
Aug 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent novella, the whole world in a day.
Sharon
rated it it was amazing
Jan 05, 2009
Susan Lee
rated it really liked it
Dec 10, 2018
Hollie
rated it really liked it
Mar 17, 2013
Kallie
rated it really liked it
Jun 15, 2009
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Eva Figes (born Eva Unger) is a German-born English author.

Figes has written novels, literary criticism, studies of feminism, and vivid memoirs relating to her Berlin childhood and later experiences as a Jewish refugee from Hitler's Germany. She arrived in Britain in 1939 with her parents and a younger brother. Figes is now a resident of north London and the mother of the academic Orlando Figes an
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