Seventeen-year-old Julien is a romantic—he loves spending his free time at the museum poring over the great works of the Impressionists. But one night, a peach falls out of a Cezanne, Degas ballerinas dance across the floor, and Julien is not hallucinating.
The art is reacting to a curse that trapped a beautiful girl, Clio, in a painting forever. Julien has a chance to free Clio and he can't help but fall in love with her. But love is a curse in its own right. And soon paintings begin to bleed and disappear. Together Julien and Clio must save the world's greatest art . . . at the expense of the greatest love they've ever known.
Like a master painter herself, Daisy Whitney brings inordinate talent and ingenuity to this romantic, suspenseful, and sophisticated new novel. A beautifully decorated package makes it a must-own in print.
By day, Daisy Whitney is a reporter and ghostwriter. At night, she writes novels for teens and is the author of THE MOCKINGBIRDS and its sequel THE RIVALS (Little, Brown). Her third novel WHEN YOU WERE HERE releases in June 2013 (Little, Brown), and her fourth novel STARRY NIGHTS (Bloomsbury) hits shelves in September 2013. When Daisy's not inventing fictional high school worlds, she can be found somewhere north of San Francisco walking her adorable dog, watching online TV with her fabulous husband or playing with her fantastic kids. A graduate of Brown University, she believes in shoes, chocolate chip cookies and karma. You can follow her writing blog and new media adventures at DaisyWhitney.com. (I don't rate books on GoodReads, nor do I check the site so please friend me on Facebook instead.)
There were a lot of reasons why I really wanted to read Starry Nights.
La première raison:The setting is in France. I love France. I studied there for a while, stayed for a bit in Strasbourg, Paris, and Épernay, and spent time with a few foster families. My boyfriend is French. I love their champagne. You get the picture. I'm not the ultimate Francophile, but that country has a special place in my heart. C'est claire?
La deuxième raison: J'adore les arts! I absolutely love art. The time I spent walking inside Musée du Louvre was one of the best 3 hours of my life. Art coming to life sounds pretty awesome, if you ask me, so this book really took the word "excitement" to a whole different level.
Starry Nights therefore had the perfect recipe. I was absolutely ready to devour this book and love every minute and every page, ready for it to give me that precious nostalgia of my time in France - all that art, history, and l'amour... but alas! It was not meant to be. In the end, I only felt disappointment that left an overwhelming bitter taste in my mouth.
First of all, it's set in France. In Paris. Paris, while not exactly my favorite city in the world, is still a magical place that's very distinct from other cities; it has something that sets it apart from others. Be it la tour Eiffel, or the lack of high-rise buildings, or that coffee shop Paul that seems to be everywhere, whatever. The thing is... Paris is different. So why the hell wasn't it described enough? You can't just throw in the picture of Eiffel tower on the cover and expect us to just imagine the place automatically. Throughout the book, I was waiting for the details of the place, but there were almost none. Paris wasn't represented enough, wasn't illustrated enough. I couldn't picture anything. It didn't give the City of Love justice.
Sure, it's not a travel guide. I'm not expecting this book to give me a vivid, bright picture of what Paris looks like, but DUDE. What's the point of putting the characters and the plot in a different setting and not describe it at least in moderate detail, not give enough information with regards to what it looks like? I was expecting this book to take me back there, to give me that French vibe, but honestly, with the way the novel turned out, it felt like it could've taken place anywhere. It threw the names Musée d'Orsay and Musée du Louvre around, but lol, it felt like it could've been any other Museum. It didn't feel special at all.
Like for example, the place Montmartre was thrown. They were supposed to meet some people there, and the only description I've gotten was the fact there was a steep hill with lots of streets. LOL!!! Really? REALLY? I stayed in Montmartre for a few days and I can describe it better than what was given in less than a minute. There's Moulin Rouge, there are at least two metros (there are probably more though), there's like a street full of sex shops, there's a steep hill with a famous restaurant that was in a Hollywood movie once, on top of the hill is Le Sacré Cœur, and there's a sort of bazaar nearby full of artists that would sell their works from €30-€200. And oh, there are a LOT of shady kids waiting by the metro entrances that would ask you to donate money for the blind and would NOT leave you the fuck alone 'til you do so (unless you're stealthy and sneaky).
Anyway, before I get sidetracked, what I mean to say is the setting was very underwhelming. The city, the museums, it didn't give me that magical feeling, not even the feeling of nostalgia, or that feeling we're somewhere different from the usual American town/city, and this aspect therefore turned out very disappointing. It definitely had so much potential, but in the end, it felt like being given a hamburger with no meat (I'm hungry, okay >_<).
One of the things that made this story interesting at first was its paranormal aspect. For Julien, the things or people in the paintings he's surrounded with come alive at night. They go out of their bronze or silver frames and manifest themselves in the flesh, totally giving us that Night at the Museum vibes. Unfortunately, this aspect felt underwhelming. Once again, I'm not expecting an art guide or anything like that, but Paris is the city of art and history. Centuries ago, art thrived here. It lived here. And until now, countless paintings still hang the walls of different museums all around the country, including paintings from the 13th century and those even older than that. You'd think more pieces of art would be featured, even in passing, but it just fell short. This is another reason why Musée d'Orsay and Musée du Louvre felt lacking - not many paintings were presented, at least the paintings that make Musée d'Orsay THE Musée d'Orsay or the Louvre THE Louvre. Get what I mean? Thus, it felt like it was any other museum.
In short, it did not feel French. It did not feel like it was in France. And therefore, I didn't even connect to the characters because everything else felt so inadequate and inefficient. I wish I could care more, care about Julien's powers coming to light and his falling in love with one of the paintings, but I couldn't. I didn't. And besides, insta-love? Really? :/ I never understood this one... you hang out for a couple of hours and you love each other already? Sure, it must have happened in real life several times, but it's often exaggerated in fiction and I can't get its appeal.
There were a lot of things about the plot that bugged me, too. Dude, Musée d'Orsay and Musée du Louvre are really bigshots when it comes to the preservation of artifacts and history. These institutions are well-guarded, and I'm pretty sure there are CCTV cameras all over the place, so how the frack did Julien sneak in and get away with it every night? It must have been explained later, and I may have missed it, but it was still unbelievable how he stayed a little before midnight, touched the paintings, and sneaked out at 2 or 1 o clock in the morning each and every time. Uhh... sure...
It also really bugged me how his best friend easily accepted Julien's "paranormal powers" like they were just talking about the weather. The build-up was lacking, there wasn't enough tension to build excitement... the list could go on and on. And that ending? SUPER CONVENIENT. Ugh, it still pisses me off whenever I think about it. I didn't even feel sad because I kind of knew things would become all right without much trouble, and I felt crushed when my hunch was right.
Perhaps I am not this book's audience. Perhaps it would appeal more to those who are looking for a fluffy, romantic read, those who don't overanalyze and those who don't care for much exposition. If you're that kind of person, you may enjoy this. Despite my complaints, I did think it was a decent story, but it just wasn't for me.
At first, I totally thought this was going to be one of those times where I really like a book that most of my friends did not. The early reviews were discouraging, but it was a 4 star book for the first 75 pages or so. From there, things slid downhill. My hopes were high for Starry Nights, but, sadly, a highly original, creative, beautiful concept turns into a cheesy pile of instalove. Be warned that this review does contain some spoilers.
The opening of this novel is so strong. Whitney's a talented writer, and the concept is gorgeous. At the outset, we have Julien, an artist of limited talent, whose mother runs a Parisian art gallery. He does tours and generally loves art of all forms, music, paintings, sculpture, dance, etc. At night, Julien wanders the halls and sees the art come alive. The subjects pop out of their frames, Degas' dancers performing ballets that only he can see.
The imagery of this, the idea that the paintings have lives of their own within the museum after dark, is stunning. While, yes, there are all sorts of reasons this is unlikely, it's beautiful magical realism, and done very well. At least, until it ceases being magical realism and turns into a paranormal/mythological plot.
While I wasn't a fan of this plot twist where the story went for the mythological rather than the subtle beauty of magical realism, which is one of my favorite things right now, I still admire the originality of the world building that Whitney devises. She's built a novel around the Muses, which I've not personally seen done before. On top of that, she brings in a look at the evolution of art, the way it went from being something done solely by educated men to something that can be created and appreciated by anyone. These are powerful themes, and I still think she handles her concept well. Though not quite what I wanted, her Muse mythology is fascinating and meaningful.
Where Starry Nights flops is the romance. It's a classic case of instalove, complete with the relatively flat characters so typical of this romantic "arc". Even before that, though, I have issues with the romance. She's a girl in a painting and he's a person, so their options are pretty limited, and, though I do sometimes go for weird ships, they didn't have enough of a connection for me to root for them in the face of odds where she's not even a real person. Sure, she likes to eat and he brings her food. They both like art. Wow, do they both like Breakfast at Tiffany's too? There wasn't any real verve or banter in their conversations which are largely boring, and I personally thought he and Emilie, who's in a total of three scenes, had a lot more chemistry.
This is the dog version of: "Is this a kissing book?" *groans*
Julien and Clio, the girl in the painting, fall in love pretty much immediately. In a rather classic Romeo & Juliet scenario, Julien is just out of a bad breakup. Clio, on the other hand, has been in a painting for over a hundred years in a private home, meaning that she hasn't seen ANYONE BUT HIM. He is literally the only boy she's seen in hundreds of years. Instalove is bad enough when there are options, but, when it's "I love you because you're the only person I've literally ever been capable of loving," to me that's not romance but desperation. Part of love is choosing that person over other people, not being cornered into it by circumstance.
Then, there's the ending, which is completely cheesy and convenient. The book could have at least ended in the expected heartbreaking place, but, oh no, this is paranormal romance world and there just HAS to be an HEA, even if it makes no sense. Let's nurture the concept that manicpixiedreamgirls will literally step out of our pop culture to love us. Yeah, that's healthy. Well, good luck to you, Clio and Julien. Two people with no marketable skills who got together when one was on the rebound and one had never spoken to another boy. I'm sure this will end well.
All told, I do think there is a good framework to Starry Nights, but the instalove killed it. I'm left feeling not angry, but disappointed. This could have been a thoughtful, slow-paced, magical novel, but instead went the way of paranormal romance tropes.
Sadly, this book just didn't do it for me. I ended up with way too many questions after the fact and everything was just very unsatisfying which makes me sad because that cover is beautiful and it sounded like such an interesting premise.
Maybe it's my fault. I was expecting magical paintings wrapped in mystery, surprise, wonderment, but I didn't really get any of that. When the paintings started to come to life, so one questioned it. The MC just acted like it was normal so then how was I supposed to think this was anything magical? Then when the mysterious girl in the painting comes to life, it's instalove to the max and I just didn't buy it. It was almost as if it were half a story and the author expected us to fill in the blanks.
The best part of this book was the locale. Paris. The city of love. I did love reading about the cafes and the museums and just the way of life in Paris. But sadly, that was really all I enjoyed and the locale is not enough to carry a book. You can tell by the writing that the author loves the arts and knows much about the history of painters but most of that love came across convoluted and jumbled.
I just wanted more magic and I wanted it to be more romantic. And I just didn't get that.
I really wanted to love this novel. It has all the things that ostensibly, I should love: Paris? Paintings that come alive? Some interesting uses of mythology? A feminist twist? An author that has been garnering more and more acclaim and attention? But sadly for me, Starry Nights never panned out or impressed me. Honestly, if Starry Nights wasn't such a short, simple, and easily digestible novel, I doubt whether I would have finished. All I can really say is that this is another case of "it's not you, it's me" because I can bet that there will be vast love for it. While I can understand that, I just can't take part in it.
It's not that Starry Nights is a bad book. It's not. It just never really clicked for me. I was utterly indifferent to the characters, the writing was serviceable but nothing to take note of, the romance didn't interest me, and the plot... well, the plot reminded me of a toned down, less suspenseful Darker Still and Night at the Museum. I didn't care about Julien, or Clio, or what kept their love apart. The one character that did generate some interest, Bonheur, isn't around nearly enough to make up for the vacuum of personality that is Julien, or the vapid nature of his love Clio.
When I wasn't bored or disinterested... I was chagrined at the sheer amount of cheese in the love story. It's just badly written, even for a seventeen year old and a girl caught in a painting for 130 years. I mean "She was a revolution and she staged a coup d'etat in my heart"? Really? Really? That line is so full of cheese, it should be a twelve-foot sub. And falling in love with a painting, even before he saw her come to life? My nineties self wants to say: Puh-lease.
As for the promised feminist twist, well, I heard more about it than I saw in the pages of the novel. Suzanne Valadon is important to the plot, and her struggles as a female painter in a male-dominated world are far more interesting than is shown here. And for a novel set in Paris, the city of love and art!, Whitney neglects her setting to focus on the saccharine romance, to the novel's detriment.
I don't have a lot to say about this book, because, for me, it didn't have a lot to offer. A shallow amusement for two hours, I can't say I walked away from Starry Nights feeling much of anything at all. It was more tedious than romantic, silly rather than compelling. I will still seek out other Daisy Whitney novels, but I won't expect so much from them.
Where to begin with Starry Nights? From the beginning itself, the narration struck me as off and as the novel progressed, I was unable to connect with the story. Unlike Whitney’s last book, When You Were Here, her latest is devoid of much emotion. I was unable to become emotionally attached to any of the characters or even come to care about them. Moreover, for a novel set in France, this book could very well be set anywhere on Earth. Whitney fails to describe her vivid setting and capture the aura of a new country, one teeming with romance and magical qualities. As a French student – one who has been forced to study art excessively by a rather obsessed substitute teacher – I didn’t have much trouble following the narrative voice, but the lack of descriptions lead me to believe that many readers may possibly be confused by the art terms or merely bored by them. I know I was. With the exception of its cover, I am sad to admit that there is nothing exceptional about Whitney’s newest novel. It didn’t work for me, but just maybe its final version will be slightly more polished and woo readers everywhere.
This was very different from any YA novel I've read, and it was very clever in its subversion of the notion of "muses" and the nature of art. It is definitely on the slow side and has quite a bit of detail regarding art (which is very accurate and well-done, and I say this as someone who studied a lot of art history in college), so it's definitely not a novel for everyone. Julien is an interesting narrator, rather sensitive, and a bit unexpected. I actually liked that Paris is the setting, but since its Julien's every day life, it didn't function as a character in the story, as many YAs set in that city do.
Again, your results may vary, because this is a very unusual sort of book, but if you're looking for something a bit different, which art, mystery and magical realism, this one is a good pick.
Paris! Art nerding! Feminist twist!
I'm guessing this will be a Sarah book, unless the tiny summary is wholly misleading.
An unexpectedly wacky novel that I could never begin to explain, but let's just say it involves Muses, Renoir, the Louvre, a dancer, a friend who keeps a goat on his balcony, people stepping out of paintings, art that appears to be dying, and an ordinary boy who learns he may be the only one who can save it. I'd never have guess that such a zany tale lay inside the pages of this book with a cover of yet another couple kissing beside the Eiffel Tower. It is fun and romantic and surprising and (maybe) doesn't quite make sense but who cares? It's delightful.
Daisy Whitney takes a departure from the contemporary novels she's known for in the magical realist tale of love, inspiration, and freedom set in Paris's famous Musée d'Orsay. Julien has nighttime access to the museum thanks to his mother, which comes in handy when he sees the paintings come to life at night.
STARRY NIGHTS has a premise that's been done before, but Whitney does it well. The paintings can not only come to life, but also get sick. It's up to Julien to heal them, but he doesn't know how. As to why they are sick, it mostly boils down to arguments over who has a right to create art and a sore loser. The Musée d'Orsay has a new painting, one by the great Renoir. The girl in the portrait is Clio, and she's been trapped there for more than a century. However, she might not want to be let out. At the same time, it may be taken out of Julien and Clio's hands since people keep trying to steal the painting.
I am an art geek, so I had lots of fun with Whitney's descriptions of paintings - what it would be like to be in them, how they might change. I also liked the cast of STARRY NIGHTS. Julien was refreshing, since few romances have a male lead. He and Clio fell in love a bit quick for my taste, but I liked how they grew closer through working together. And I loved Julien's friends, new and old. They're colorful personalities. (Particularly Bonheur, who would enjoy being singled out as colorful.)
I've never been to France, but Whitney made me feel like I was visiting. Her Paris is not one of tourists, but of people who live and work there, stealing cups from cafes with bad tea and going out to dance together at night, willing to help a friend out when asked. Although I certainly hope that if I visit Paris I'll run into more aspiring ballerinas than vengeful ghosts.
Fans of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS looking for something with more magic should flock to this one. While the paranormal elements are integral to the plot, the tone of STARRY NIGHTS is similar to a contemporary. It really is magical realism rather than outright fantasy. I found it to be a low-key, sweet read with some interesting thoughts on the philosophy behind creating art. Honestly, it's exactly what the cover promises.
(Please note that I read the Kindle galley, which was capitalized like a serial killer's message to the police. I've decided that my ability to read the book despite that drawback is in its favor. The final book, of course, is capitalized normally.)
This book was fine. The premise was clever, and I found myself wanting to know how the story would resolve, but it isn't something I will ever want to read again. A lot of it felt very over-done, with plot twists that would have suited a middle school oriented novel much better than one marketed for older teens. The writing style was inconsistent, going back and forth between beautiful and heavily mediocre. It's worth a read, but more of a "get-it-out-of-the-library-once" book than a "buy-your-own-copy" book.
Also, if it markets itself as a book with a "feminist twist," it should definitely reassess its understanding of feminism. Just saying.
My thought process throughout this entire book was: ‘How many pages are left?’ Without being unreasonably harsh, I’ll try to outline the few good parts of the story. I learned more about art, Paris, the nine muses and museum security!
Now, onto the not so great parts… My main issue with Starry Nights was that it was too unrealistic and way over the top. Paintings that come to life, I can deal with. Falling head over heels in love with a girl from a painting and then travelling into and through paintings felt too much like Harry Potter for my liking! I appreciate this is YA, but seriously? Weirder still was the ease with which Julien’s friends follow his lead without question. I’m sure if I told my friends that paintings were coming to life and that I could travel into a painting, they would have some serious concerns over my mental state!
“It is truly never a dull moment with you, Garnier.” I stop walking. “You don’t believe me?” “Does it matter if I believe you? I’m your friend and I’m going to do whatever you need me to do. I’m all in, whether I believe in ghosts or not.”
The love story between Julien and the girl from the painting might have been more believable if it wasn’t so rushed. It’s love at first sight, followed by a whirlwind romance. That’s hard enough to come to terms with when both people are real but when one is a girl trapped in a painting, it borders on weird / unbelievable.
Every part of me aches for her. For the bitterness, for the pain. For having everything you love, everything you believe, turned against you. “I’m so sorry that happened to you, Clio,” I say, but how do you even begin to comfort someone who’s been caged for so long, even if the bars are beautiful?
There was also something about Clio that I did not like right from the start. First, I thought she was somehow manipulating Julien and hiding a deep secret, which is why she was trapped in the painting. Only towards the end did I realise that she wasn’t a hidden villain but I still struggled to like her! There’s a point where Clio accuses Julien for implying that she was desperate since he’s the first person able to interact with her for over a century. I must say, I quite agreed!
To conclude, I wasn’t a fan of this book, purely because the story was too unrealistic for my taste.
If I were seeing genies riding on magic carpets while huffing on hookahs I’d be less shocked. Instead, all my senses are ignited, and my brain is buzzing, and it feels like I’m dreaming, but I know I’m wide awake and seeing art come alive. This girl has danced her way right out of a Degas.
FTC Advisory: Bloomsbury USA Childrens provided me with a copy of Starry Nights. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
Julien Garnier is like any other seventeen-year-old boy: he doesn't take his studies as seriously as he should, he's moving on after a disastrous relationship, and he works as a tour guide at the Musée d’Orsay. What isn't typical about Julien, however, is that he has after-hours access to some of the world's most valuable paintings. His mother is the museum's curator and the art world is abuzz with excitement as the news spreads of the discovery of a lost Renoir. After authentication, the painting will find a permanent home at the museum.
One night while Julien is making the rounds in the now-empty galleries, he notices something isn't quite right with the paintings. First it was some sun damage, then a peach rolled out of a frame. Seascapes begin leaking onto the floor and Degas' dancers start, well, dancing and putting on impromptu performances for Julien.
Worst of all, the girl in the Renoir made a brief appearance and now Julien can't stop thinking about her.
Starry Nights brought me back to the art world. Last year I read and loved B.A. Shapiro's The Art Forger. Shapiro took a subject I knew practically nothing about and made it extremely accessible. Not once did I get lost in the paintings, artists, or techniques. I was eager to return to that magical world and Starry Nights didn't disappoint!
Male POVs are relatively rare in Young Adult and it was a joy to get inside Julien's head. His friends - Simon, Sophie, Bonheur, Emilie, Zola - were wonderfully written too and even the minor characters were fleshed out. That said, the real star of the show was Clio. For over a century she's been trapped inside the cursed painting and only now has been set free. Her story and magical and enchanting and when her true identity was revealed, I was caught off guard.
I'm sure those more knowledgeable than me would enjoy the talk of specific paintings without the added distraction of having to rush off and Google them. That said, the fantasy element was so incredibly well done! Who hasn't looked at a painting and wanted to explore it a bit more? To be able to speak with the subjects, sail on the rivers, or watch the dancers perform is something I'd love to do and the way Ms. Whitney went about it worked.
The ending was a bit rushed and too Happily Ever After for me, but Starry Nights was a delightfully inventive story that can easily be read in a single sitting. This is my first of Whitney's novels, but it left me itching for more!
One of the biggest things that I love about Daisy Whitney's writing (and I love a lot) is just when I think I know who she is as a writer, she redefines herself. Often, for authors, this kind of an evolution is a by-product of an ever changing market. I don't feel that's true for Daisy. I think she is a sponge in her own life, soaking up a million people, places and things that are interesting. And then she writes about the things she loves and the things that fascinate her. She writes about the questions she has and the things that must be witnessed. She writes what she knows and what she needs to know. And then luckily, she shares it with us.
It is obvious that STARRY NIGHTS was born from Daisy's love of art and her desire to share the magic she feels, not only for paintings, but for artistic expression in general. Her passion for her topic was infectious and it raised my curiosity about some pieces that weren't in my vocabulary before. This book could be used, to great collaborative effect, with art and english teachers.
I was also fascinated by Daisy's take on Renoir. I think that in our society, we often have a tendency to confuse the artist with the art. When we have a big name Hollywood star, an athlete, artist or politician we love, it's hard to look past our adoration for their craft or skill when their private life raises red flags. What to do about such real life discrepancies is a topic for another day, but what I loved was that Daisy subtly raised the question.
Additionally, I'm a big fan of books that step outside the typical take on the paranormal. I believe there's a lot more magic in the world than we open ourselves up to. STARRY NIGHTS is different than anything else that's out there and that is a wonderful thing. It creatively crafts elements of paranormal intrigue with something that in today's day in age, could literally become a lost art. STARRY NIGHTS makes reading and learning about art history really cool. I'm also a huge fan of Daisy's funny bits. If you read STARRY NIGHTS, one of the best pay offs is finding out what the Mona Lisa has been thinking all this time. It's hysterical and adorable.
And on a little side note, I loved that every night when I curled up in bed, I got to go to Paris for a little while. I walked the streets, saw the sights, smelled the coffee and tasted the food. I can not wait until I get to revisit Paris and bring my kids. And I know, when I go and walk into the Musee d'Orsay and the Louvre, thanks to Daisy Whitney and her STARRY NIGHTS, I'll be waiting for the art to come alive.
Picking through rows and rows of YA books at my local library, the pretty Eiffel Tower cover of this book screamed my name, and I was summoned to pick it up. I have to say, it was love at first sight- but even though I did like what was inside this cute little book, I didn't necessarily love it.
For a summary, Starry Nights centres around Julien, a hopeless romantic. When a peach falls out of a Cezanne painting, he somehow sees ballerinas fall out from it as well and dance on the floor. This leads him to meet and fall head over heels in love with Clio, who is stuck in a painting and needs a way out. Will the two be able to save the art piece, despite the fact that Clio is stuck in a painting of her own? And if so, will they still be able to love each other without harm?
One thing I really enjoyed about this book was the originality, and how unique it was. I could tell that Daisy Whitney has a great imagination, and that really shined through in her writing. A guy falling in love with a girl stuck in a painting- in Paris?! That's quite the awesome idea, and I applaud Whitney for making that concept work so well!
Unfortunately, though, the characters of this book were just not my favourite. I found that they were bland and didn't have a lot of personality, which really bothered me at times. They seemed to have so much potential, but as I write this review, I only finished the book two days ago, and I can remember pretty close to zilch about them. Whitney has the creative plot down for sure, but I think she needs to apply more of that creativity to her characters, as well.
I absolutely LOVED all the descriptions of France, as I felt like I was there, not just reading about it. Whitney's descriptive writing style gave me the ability to picture absolutely everything, from the dancing ballerinas from the painting, to the beautiful museums, and to the Eiffel Tower, which was amazing! It has always been a dream of mine to go to France, and with this book, I felt like I was able to happily travel there for about an hour and a half.
Overall, Starry Nights was a unique, cute story, but I just wish the characters were a bit more developed. If you're looking for an awesome story taking place in Paris with fabulous writing, but are willing to sacrifice great characters in exchange for well-thought out descriptions of the city, definitely check this one out! But if you are one for the romance and less for the description, then I'd say to maybe take a pass on this story.
I love it when a book blurs the lines between reality and the exciting "what if". Daisy Whitney has done just that with Starry Nights. Her story blends real life with something extraordinary, and unbelievable to create something that bloomed to life while reading her book. I love that when authors do that. While reading Starry Nights I began to feel not so weird for the times I've stared at a painting secret;u waiting for something, anything to happen within it. Not to mention the times I have thought that if I just stare at it hard enough it just might come to life. Well seventeen year old Julien doesn't need to worry about wishing, or starring too hard at a painting for them to come to life. He has a gift that allows him to see them come to life all on their own.
I don't know what's more romantic, that the setting is in Paris, or the fact that Julien falls in love with the girl from the painting his mother's museum has finally secured. This painting isn't just any painting, and the girl isn't just any girl. The painting is the highly sought after The Girl in the Garden painted by Renoir, who was friends with Monet and also an admirer of the girl. The painting disappeared after it was exhibited in 1885, and mystery surrounding it's disappearance and resurfacing was well told in this story. Julien this is huge. Not only does he need to make sure this painting stays protected, he has to keep the girl within the painting protected as well, and that won't be easy. I love how the painting and Julien's ability played such a large part of the story's suspense and magically elements.
The premise of this story was adorable; Night at the Museum meets YA meets romance. The execution, on the other hand, left much to be desired.
Starry Nights just jumps in to paintings coming to life and reveals the "why"s as it goes along. Unfortunately, it is inconsistent in its own world-building, having the female lead both artistically historic (130 years old or so) and at times confused by modern day lingo and at other times, unrealistically knowledgeable about what something means or what the proper, modern term to use would be.
The romance is hokey, rushed and unbelievable, the friendships based on shallow and short interactions (but possibly at least partially explained by the gimmick if you're willing to allow it), and the characters are largely two dimensional. The biggest disappointment was the waste of potential in creating some magic from the paintings brought to life. They make their appearances but only to support the main character as he first mopes over his love life, then builds another.
This might be right up the alley of art lovers but for anyone with only a passing or non-existent knowledge base in art history, a lot of this is going to go over your head. In other books, I'd consider this an opportunity to pull up Google and learn some fascinating new things but in this case, when I was already frustrated at the quality of the story, it just made things more frustrating. It went beyond references and straight into non-accessibility at a few points where it was not ideal to further pull myself out of the story.
First I have to say that this book is BRILLIANT! Holy Rembrandt I love art so much! I could spend all my time in the art museum and not get bored. I just love looking at all the paintings and artifacts it is like reading a history book but in person. But Starry Night has a twist to it and no I am not going to spoil it for the reader but lord this book and the pictures in it is absolutely BRILLIANT!
Julien is a 17 year old art lover. He loves everything about art and works in a museum. One night while working Julien sees that a painting has come to life. At first he thinks he is hallucinating but as he gets closer to the painting he sees that he is not hallucinating but that the actual painting has come to life.Then if things could not get any worse Julien sees a girl and she asks him to save her from this curse that she had placed upon her.
Soon Julien finds himself falling in love with the mystery girl Clio. Only when their love for each other grows does Julien find out that he must give the ultimate sacrifice to save all the precious paintings and Clio. Will Julien be able to give up his chance at true love? Will he save Clio? Is it to much to ask him when he has never had these feelings before?
This is such a lovely story that grips you right from the first page and keeps you there until the end. The question is what would you do for love? What would you give up for love? Julien and Clio will find this out and the outcome is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!
A copy of this novel was provided by Bloomsbury Australia for review.
Yet another two star read for yours truly. I seriously don’t know what’s going on at the moment with me and my reads – it is thoroughly disappointing that I am reading so many mediocre books at the moment, especially when they have great potential, like Starry Nights did. I was immediately interested in Starry Nights, back when I read a book by the same author earlier in the year. Paintings that come to life? A guy who falls in love with one? That SCREAMS Chiara all over it. And yet – I was disappointed. I felt that the romance moved too fast and the plot moved too slowly. Sometimes there were things happening and I didn’t know why, like the introduction of a certain character/spirit. I had no idea why they were included, nor what they added to the storyline. I wasn’t swooning over Julien at all; in fact I found him quite pretentious as times, which is a huge turn-off. I didn’t feel the romance between him and Clio, and was overall severely disappointed in this book. I’d say the best thing about Starry Nights was the character Bonheur – he was the only thing in this novel that truly came to life.
I think this is one of those novels where, if a different author wrote it, it would be an absolute train wreck. This idea is so completely out there that it could easily have become ridiculous. Not surprisingly, Daisy Whitney handles this with a deft hand and makes it so believable and wonderful.
In a lot of ways, it reminded me of Midnight in Paris. It's a completely outlandish concept, but you almost immediately start to believe that it's possible and actually happening. (And seriously, if things like this were to happen, wouldn't they happen in Paris?)
This book is a huge departure from Daisy Whitney's other three books in terms of plot (her others are straight contemporary, no hint of the paranormal in them) but does have the great writing (in terms of plot, characterization and dialogue) that I've come to expect from her. Except now I have read all of her available books and there aren't any more. This is very sad. If you haven't read Daisy Whitney before, this would be a good one to start with, especially if you like paranormal fiction.
Graded By: Mandy W. Cover Story: Un Livre avec les Bisous, Mais J'adore BFF Charm: Stuart Smalley Swoonworthy Scale: 5 Talky Talk: C'est Daisy Whitney Bonus Factors: Art, Museums, Paris Relationship Status: Favourite Museum Guide
**This is an ARC review. Any quotes or excerpts are taken from an unfinished copy and are therefore subject to change before the final print**
I’ve seen this book described as “Night at the Museum with a feminist twist” and there are definitely some correlations there. But as I was reading Starry Nights I kept thinking that it read as a fairy tale, a fairy tale with an awesome dose of art history added in.
There is a curse and there is a myth. There is a love at first sight type of romance built in as well. And the art! For me, someone who got her bachelors degree in art history and worked as a curator in my local musuem, this book triggered so many feelings of nostalgia. It took me back to my college days and a trip to Paris when I was 20, where I was lucky enough to see nearly all of the art mentioned in Whitney’s book.
And I know that this book was a labor of love for Whitney to write, being an art history degree holder herself. I can tell you that it made me feel very wistful and a little sad that I no longer work in the art field. It made me miss my museum days. But it also made me remember why I love art so much in the first place.
As much as I love the art themes in Starry Nights, I am as equally enamored with the characters that Whitney has crafted. First and foremost the extremely likable protagonist Julien. A male POV is always a bonus, but Julien is something special. Julien, as the son of both an art history professor and the curator of the Musee d’Orsay, Paris’ preeminent collection of Impressionist and Post Impressionist paintings, has an appreciation of art running through his veins. In fact, Julien is an artist himself, though he grudgingly admits not a very good one. And that’s another character trait I will always be drawn too: the self deprecating ones. Julien freely admits that his strengths don’t lie in academics either. But he loves art. He is passionate about it. When his grades are slipping in school, his mother bribes him by agreeing to let him have after hours privilege's at the Museum. And the thing about it is this: Julien recognizes that a teenage boy loving, art, music and theatre isn’t exactly considered cool. Even a French teenager residing in Paris. But it doesn’t matter because to Julien, the museum is Holy Ground. And the only religion he believes in is art. Come on. How could I NOT love this guy?
I love the secondary characters as well. There is Simon, Julien's best friend who is funny, charismatic, and loyal to his friend. There is some great banter between these two guys. There is Bonheur , self named after the famous Rosa Bonheur a 19th century woman artist who liked to dress in men's clothing. The twist here is that Starry Night’s Bonheur is a quirky new friend to Julien who likes to dress in women’s clothing. Bonheur and his younger sister Sophie are eccentric and fun, known for throwing the type party's that reminded me of the artist gatherings during the turn of the 20th century that made Paris famous. I love arty, quirky personalities in secondary characters.
And did I mention that this book is not only set in Paris but features a cast of French teens? This isn’t your typical American-in-Paris/ fish out of water storyline. I loved this about Starry Nights. In fact Julien, who speaks several languages admits that one of the things he actually IS pretty good at is capturing accents. Especially American accents. He can slip into a Bostonian accent with ease and turn right around and nail the southern drawl of a Georgia native. These little details helped round out his character even more and I love that Whitney included them.
So, in my opinion, the characters and their authentic voices are one of the strongest aspects of Starry Nights. But what about the story itself?
In Starry Nights, Julien discovers that at night, in the hours when his mother’s Museum is dark and silent, the art comes alive. Degas’ ballerinas leap out of the frame. Van Gogh’s Dr. Gachet and Manet’s Olympia step out of the canvas and into each other’s arms. This is a recent development for Julien who is both spellbound and more then a little freaked out. He doesn’t know if he’s hallucinating or if this is real. All Julien knows is that the art that he loves so much is coming to life before his, and only his, very eyes.
But there is more to the story. In the Musee d’Orsay, and her sister musuem, the Louvre, some works of art are changing, and not for the better. Many of the world’s most well known masterpieces are fading out, growing sick, and are in danger of being lost forever.
Along with this mystery, Julien is about to experience even more strange events when a long lost Renoir surfaces and he finds himself falling head over heels in love with the girl pictured in it.
Now listen, I am no fan of instalove in the books I read. Shoot, I’d rather deal with a love triangle than a romance that progresses too quickly and feels false. But in Starry Nights, Julien falls for the girl in the Renoir painting very quickly. Even before she emerges from the canvas itself, Julien has developed very strong, almost obsessive, feelings towards her. But you know, like a fairy tale, I found myself able to suspend my disbelief and go with it. In a story where art comes to life, it’s not that much of a leap to imagine a romance quickly surfacing. Maybe it’s just the art lover in me but I cannot help but love that Julien, so passionate about art, falls in love with a girl in a painting. Kind of like the Pygmalion and Galatea myth, about a sculptor who falls in love with his own creation.
When Julien and Clio (the girl from the Renoir) set out to discover what’s going wrong with so many paintings the story takes a turn towards the more fantastic and surreal. And even though I think some readers may find it to be a bit too far fetched, I thought that in this particular story, which reads so much like a fairy tale, filled with bits of magic here and there, it worked. And some of my favorite parts of the book were the odd yet fantastic descriptions of the finest works of art behaving VERY strangely. Like Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa broadcasting dirty jokes all over the museum galleries and Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa springing a leak and flooding the floor of the Louvre with sea water. Plausible? No? Enchanting and fun to read about? YES. And there are the scenes where Julien himself enters paintings. I know I am a TOTAL art GEEK because when I read stuff like that? CHILL BUMPS.
I have been to Monet's garden before. An hour west of Paris, it's a popular destination for many visitors to France. You feel transported, like you've been swished back in time to the late 1800s when Monet painted so many of his masterpieces.
But this. This is more than the real thing. This is like a high-definition version of the gardens, with orange dahlias that blaze like the sun and pick poppies the color of a seashell. All the flowers are in bloom. In front of me lies a blanket of pale-blue forget-me-nots that look like the impressionist paintings they inspired because they are the impressionist paintings they inspired. All the colors are more vibrant than any palette I've seen on the other side. They are a new color wheel, like someone spun all the colors in the world faster and faster, and made them vibrate, and now they've become more electrifying versions of themselves, like the notes played by a virtuoso violinist.
"We're not in Giverny," I say, in a daze. "No, we're not." We are someplace else entirely, someplace that doesn't exist for anyone else, anywhere else.
The mystery of the damaged art and why Clio in particular is trapped inside her painting, while perhaps not the strongest of storylines, was still creative and engaging to read. But I think the underlying messages that Whitney writes into Starry Nights, like her examination of how unfairly women artists were treated during the later years of the 19th century, and most importantly, the belief that art is for everyone, whether you're a man or woman, rich or poor, a great artist or just a mediocre one, those are the parts of this book that I enjoyed reading the most. It’s a great message to send out there and I appreciate Whitney building this book around it.
And hey, did I mention the writing? This is my first Daisy Whitney book (I have a copy of When You Were Here on it’s way to me as we speak) but I am impressed with how seamless and smooth her thoughts and ideas come across. I think she nailed a teenage boy’s voice pretty darn well, and I love the humor that’s found throughout the book too.
My mother and father are watching a TV show, of all things. They never watch TV. But tonight they feel the need to tune into a sitcom. They're on the couch cracking up. The indignity of parents. The annoying, irritating, vexatious indignity of parents staying up late when I need to slip out.
I guess it obvious that I LOVED Starry Nights. I don't know that all readers will connect with this book in the same way that I did because of my personal experiences, but I don't think you have to be the world's biggest art appreciator to enjoy it either. I think the story is enchanting, the romance is sweet, and the characters are well crafted. Learning some awesome facts about the art of Renoir and Monet among others is just icing on the cake. Give it a shot, I think you will agree.
This was a cute, easy read book. However, it was extremely average, but beautifully average. I felt like this book was giving me Night at the Muesum vibes, but painting edition. I also felt like he interacted with the paintings like Anna did from Frozen. I was reminded of both those movies while I was reading this book. I did like the length of the chapters as well. Some were long and some were a few pages long. Perfect read for this book. I know some people like only short chapters and some only like long, but there are both combined into this book, for the perfect mix. I felt like the author put in a lot of effort to learn about the past of paintings to write this book, however, I did research of my own, and I found out that Clio is a muse for history. In this book though, it made it sound like she was the Muse for art or painting, but she is not. I think the author did put a lot of research into the actual painting, not into the myths behind art. I think she wrote an unusual guy's point of view. He loves paintings and ballet, which is something I have never seen before. He falls in love first, which is my favorite trope for guys, but unrealistic for men in real life. One point of view, which makes sense for the story line, but not my favorite writing style. I read this book at the library, and I checked out the hard-cover edition, so this only applies to the those who read the hard cover. But I do like the paintings she mentioned more than once were also depicted on the inside cover. It was a small detail, but a beautiful detail that I appreciated. Additionally, this book is called 'Starry Nights', starry is spelled wrong in the title, but not if you are looking at it from the Van Gough point of view, it is spelled right. I also liked that this book was titled after a painting and was after the main characters favorite painting. The plot twist actually shocked me. I was certain the paintings were getting sick because of Max/ Renoir. I was not thinking it was going to be one of the Muses who are supposed to love art, never hurt it. So, I was surprised when I read this. While reading this book, Thaila was one of my least favorite characters that were good, but after she let Clio go, she became one of my favorites. However, I did not like that she left her job for a boy, but it was her freedom of choice. It was not chosen for her, and she worked long enough. Tropes: Guy falls first Insta-love He is chosen/ special I think this book is kind of supernatural, since it talks about muses
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I read this book because one of my friends recommended it to me. When she told me about it, it sounded right up my ally because it embodied all of my favorite aspects: romance, art, and far away places like Paris. I had high expectations for this book, and I was a little bit let down. The story was good, and the ideas were there but I feel like the details were lacking, and it made the book feel rushed and impersonal. The art was an important part of this book, because the plot was centered around the idea of how art comes to life and has it's own personality. The art can transport the muse in the story to places around the world, like art can transport people to a different time in history or to a different mindset today. It was also centered around falling in love at first sight and being swept up in a whirlwind of a love. I would recommend this book to people who are fans of fantasy and whimsical thinking, because at times this book seemed a little too unrealistic even for me. I would recommend it to people who are fans of the art and people who love romance books. A girl would probably prefer this book more than most boys because it is a little girly and full of fantasy.
Thank you to Daisy Whitney for the review copy! Still, this in no way affected my views of the novel. And since I'm in a list-y mood, lists all the way!
Seven Reasons Why I Love Julien/Seven Proofs that Julien is Too Good to Be True
1. His name is JULIEN. The French counterpart of my favorite guy name JULIAN. How can I not love him? That is impossible. Names are a big thing for me so with just this bit, my eyes turned into hearts.
2. He's French. Did you know that I named my Kindle Adrien after a French guy? #yesiamashallowperson
3. He's cool. He has impeccable taste in music. #hipster He can DJ. He draws!
4. He's fun. The stuff he and his best friend Simon did were gut-achingly funny. Hahaha! This is a guy who knows how to have fun. He's spontaneous and he's game!
5. He's sweet. To the people he tours around the museum, to his mom, to the paintings that come to life, to Emmanuelle, to Clio. He's kind but he's no pushover. He tiptoes on the line of being a safe guy and an appealing dangerous one (with his curiosity and courage). <3
6. He's sensitive. Like no other. It feels like he's too good to be true because how can a guy understand a girl (and people in general) so much?
7. He's passionate. With everything and anything he sets his mind on. Sure, he kinda fails on literature and history because he's lazy but when he puts in effort, he gets good grades. And his passion for art and paintings is just swoonworthy. I love a guy who's passionate, who gives it all for what he wants. Passion is a turn-on~
Seven Reasons Why I Love STARRY NIGHTS
1. Julien. See previous list. *wink* And it's in his point-of-view and I dig all the male voices in YA!
2. Paris. While I haven't been to Paris and I'm not as obsessed with it, I appreciate the change in setting in Starry Nights. Most novels I read are set in America so when authors transport the story to somewhere else, I gobble them up. I read several reviews on Goodreads that Paris didn't seem authentic in here because there were not much descriptions and atmosphere set-up of Paris. In retrospect, I understand their point but while I was reading it, I didn't feel that way. Once again, this might be because of my lack of knowledge about Paris. So if you're a big fan of Paris, you might find an issue with that aspect.
3. Art. Honestly, I don't know a thing with paintings. I was mostly asleep during art class back in high school. (The lights were always off! Please don't judge me.) And I wasn't able to take art appreciation classes in college. So I'm thankful for Starry Nights and Daisy Whitney for immersing me into the paintings mentioned in here. Aside from looking at the pictures of the painting in the ARC, I searched them over the Internet and fell into a painting wormhole. Let's just say I can now totally relate when I watch White Collar and they spout off paintings. Hee.
4. Concept. The premise of paintings coming to life? I LOVE IT. I know, it's like Night at the Museum and the author actually describes the novel as something like it. I enjoyed that movie so I had a feeling that I'll come out satisfied with this novel too. And I did!
5. Plot. I'm putting plot as a different point because what goes down in the novel is different from its set-up. So, the paintings come to life. But then, what happens next? So what? What are the ramifications? Even though Starry Nights is a very short and quick read, we weren't robbed of conflicts and mysteries and twists. Right from the start, we get lots of questions in which we beg for answers. Why do the paintings come to life? Who is this girl? Why is she special? What's the curse? Why is there a curse? So many questions and Daisy Whitney unveils the answer to each satisfyingly. Put an obstacle here, a twist there, a mission in here, espionage there, OH MY.
6. Romance. Granted, sure, it was insta-love. But I'm willing to suspend my hate for insta-love for this novel. *the world goes in shock* When Julien just falls in love with the girl from the painting, Clio, I scoffed. WHY? Sure, she's beautiful, ethereal, ephemeral, sublime. But she's from a painting!!! Then they get to know each other, they bond, they go inside paintings and I'm a goner. Julien swept me and Clio off our feet. Doesn't help that Daisy really knows how to write sweet lines and dialogue that will make your legs go weak and your cheeks to blush. Maybe on other books or if it's by other authors, these lines will seem cheesy and sappy. But but, here's an example!
"She was a revolution and she staged a coup d'etat in my heart."
Stop it, Julien! *bats eyelashes* Or maybe I'm such a girl. Whatever. Most reviews I read had issues with the ending because they think it wasn't realistic.
7. Daisy Whitney's writing! I told Daisy this a lot of times but next to David Levithan, I think she's my next favorite author. Her way with words is just ~lovely~.
Special mention to Simon. Love him! I didn't want to make him as the eighth reason because it'll make me crazy to have a list with seven points and another one with eight points. Haha!
Starry Nights is a disarmingly enchanting and entrancing tale of the impossible being possible through love. Spellbindingly sweet and fascinating, Daisy Whitney has written yet another magnetic novel with mesmerizing characters and an enthralling concept.
This was okay I guess. Honestly, it's perfect for the target audience: teens. I read it as a teen and really liked it, but as an adult I think my taste in books has changed. It wasn't bad, per se, but the main character is a lot more whiny and pessimistic at the beginning than I remember. Plus there are plot lines that feel like they were there just to make the book a little longer. Like I said, it's not bad but it's not as good as I remember.