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The Season of Migration

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  225 ratings  ·  43 reviews
The lyrically told story of one of the world's greatest artists finding his true calling

Though Vincent van Gogh is one of the most popular painters of all time, we know very little about a ten-month period in the painter's youth when he and his brother, Theo, broke off all contact. In The Season of Migration, Nellie Hermann conjures this period in a profoundly imaginative
ebook, 256 pages
Published January 6th 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Average rating 3.51  · 
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Rachel Beeler
I had high expectations for this book seeing as Van Gogh is one of my absolute favorite people/painters. The writing was, at times, lyrical and exquisite, and I love when people render imaginings on known gaps in historical record (not sure what that is called), but overall I was disappointed with the book. The lack of intriguing plot and shifting narration were this novels weakest components and led to my ultimate disinterest.

The rating is rounding up from like a 2.75. I think I'll just turn t
very nice literary treatment of vicent van gogh's time spent in coal mining communities of belgium, and his troubling seeking for meaning and purpose in religion, family, love and art. author does a superb job using historical epistles of the van gogh family to create a possible 'why' for vincent's lifestyle and decisions.
the incredibly poor living and working conditions and dangers of the serf miners touched vincent's heart so much, he too lost it and more or less went on a hunger strike, his h
I was looking forward to this book, which concentrates on the early years of Van Gogh, when he was trying to make his way in the world as a missionary after his failure of theological studies. But the style of writing is so descriptive and the descriptions are so basic, no creativity when it comes to language. What eyes see, the tongue describes each object one by one in a simple language.
Feb 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the book interesting as I knew nothing about Van Gogh as a preacher. His work in the coal mining area of Belgium was eyeopening. The people suffered so much and had so little. You could see the beginning of his artist career and the beginning of his mental illness.A short book, but a good read.
Apr 07, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Such an intriguing premise, I really wanted to like this book. I'm captivated by all things VVG, so I brought this title to my book club. Unfortunately, not one member finished it. Slow. Think molasses. Think turtle. I'm not against a leisurely read, but this went nowhere fast ...more
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book and the glimpse into the life of Vincent van Gogh. The writing captivated me. The book's expression of the many ways we as people have a deep desire to be known and understood has stuck with me. ...more
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I really wanted to like this book, but it put me to sleep.
Clare Carter
Sooo this was kinda bad lol

I will say that the writing is objectively good, and it's very short--I basically read it in one day. But like?? I was interested in this book because it's about Vincent Van Gogh, but was there *ONE* painting made in this book? NO. I understand that it's supposed to be about his life before he was a painter, but this story could have been about any ol' smuck who lived in a mining town for a while. While Vincent writes letters to Theo throughout, I never felt like this
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book paints a picture of the workings of a man's soul - of his struggle to find himself and his purpose through the lens of the beauty and the suffering that he sees in tandem around him. It has a rather melancholy note to it, yet the imagery is striking. I did however, grow weary of all the images of life and commonplace things. There was beauty in it, yes, but it ceased to captivate my attention as the book drew on. By the last third of the book or so, I was extremely impatient to get to ...more
Cindy L
3.5 stars out of 5. I had randomly purchased this book used at the library and come to find out, it's about Vincent Van Gogh's early life as a Minister. Based on his actual letters, the author adds in her own details to round out the story line. I liked it.... But maybe more so because this is my second Van Gogh novel. Halfway through reading this book, I checked out a VG coffee table book from the library. His paintings are brilliant... Just wonderful. It's a shame he spent his last days unhapp ...more
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book enjoyable, with just the right amount of lingering in between twists in the story to entice me. I found that Hermann did a good job at transcribing different events & though I did feel that the ending came too quickly, I am glad for the overall length of the book & felt that just the right amount was touched on.
Marina Garcia
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was a truly poetic and overall beautiful book. Vincent Van Gogh's inner life was something quite interesting to read about, the way he saw everything as art touched me in a different manner. I loved the author's writing style, all the details and the air of pure contemplation of the world. ...more
Edward Sullivan
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
A beautifully written, richly imagined time in Vincent Van Gogh's early life before he became the artist known today. ...more
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, novels
Beautiful writing!
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historical fiction may now be my favorite genre. I really enjoyed this book, it felt even more special to be reading it while traveling in Europe - being able to experience art and have a new perspective of Vincent van Gogh's life path. ...more
Yijun Yuan
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy A
Oct 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One might think that inhabiting an artist's psyche would be a wonderful thing. At the very least it would illuminate the motivational processes behind the creative ones.However,when the artist is Vincent Van Gogh one has to understand that the journey is not going to be a comfortable one nor even at times a comprehensible one.I think Nellie Hermann achieves a remarkable tour d' force in that she is able to construct a believable framework which illuminates the formation of the artist Vincent Van ...more
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is somewhere between a 3.5 and a 4, for me. I thought this was a great book: not too lengthy or wordy, and Hermann does a good job of maintaining Van Gogh's voice, given the letters she had access to. I liked the snapshots of what the Van Goghs' childhood must have been like; and that's something that few authors have acknowledged in great detail, in fiction or academic work.

What I didn't like about this book was the subplot with Angeline, which felt a little unnecessary given the emotiona
Rachel A.  Dawson
Well, I couldn't get through this one either. It's a sign of growth (I think) that I've been learning to close books I'm not enjoying and stop reading once I've given them a chance. I used to feel obligated to finish... but no longer. There are too many amazing books to be read to waste time reading mediocre ones! This one was challenging in the way each paragraph switched perspectives and times. It takes skill to make that work well, and I wasn't following this one. It's a fictionalized take on ...more
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had high expectations for this book, but ultimately, was pretty disappointed. Van Gogh as a subject has such potential for a good story (he was crazy, as so many geniuses are), and his well documented letters to his brother Theo are amazing. However, this book covered too much of the madness with shifting perspective and lunatic rants and covered the brief 9-month period in which the brothers were NOT in contact. Van Gogh tells the story of this time through letters to Theo that he writes, but ...more
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel is utterly masterful. I have studied the work of Van Gogh in some depth, I do not have a deep grasp of his life history. So I cannot speak to accuracy, but how much do we really need to speak to accuracy in a work of historical fiction? Isn't that why it's called fiction, rather than nonfiction.

Hermann is an amazing writer, capable of depicting the inner struggles of an artist as he copes with spirituality, political economy, and the brutal identification with, and estrangement from,
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short, dense book about a period of the life of Vincent Van Gogh, before he found his calling as
an artist. Written in the form of letters to his brother. In real life, he and his brother wrote letters frequently, but there was a one year gap in their writing. This story fills in the gap, so the book is fiction, but the author strives to be true to known facts and Vincent's tone of writing. Many profound and beautiful parts that made me read slowly to savor and reflect. Vincent is working through
Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this little book! I had no idea what a beautiful soul Van Gogh had or how tormented he was as a child and young man. It very nearly broke my heart to read about how sensitive, how caring, self-sacrificing he was, but how he was teased and tormented as a child, by his own family, and misunderstood and ridiculed by those very people he so desperately wanted to help.

I've recently ordered a collection of more of his letters, and I look forward to visiting all of his paintings available in my
Dec 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite what I expected. Beautifully written, but really more like poetry. While the writing is exquisite, it's really a small slice of Vincent's life- more about his psyche than a true narrative. That said, there were some memorable parts- his journey into the mine, his insistence of not washing so he could empathize with the miners. ...more
Fatima Afridi
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the writer's thought process very very deep and intriguing. The way the protagonist could connect completely different phenomena. It was a melancholic but beautiful, beautiful read.
The description of the mine, Vincent's descent into it and his tour, was extremely evocative and stunning. I have never read anything like it before!
Sergio Gutierrez
Oh. I have a brother and a sister. Both like to write. This book shows that the inner prisoner can be freed by writing, such is the case for Vincent. His mind wanders a lot, but more so that it allows him to focus on what is in front of him. He is a good man and so is his brother. The title fits, comparing us humans to birds. If you do not buy the art the artist dies.
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-finishing
The story jumps around a bit, which I often like in a novel, but it doesn't work for me in this case. The writing isn't bad, but I just am not drawn into this story as much as I'd like to be. Setting this one aside at 50% and moving on to something more compelling. ...more
Jan 29, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Meh. The language seemed overly formal, as if it was a translated novel, and given that Van Gogh was not an English/American artist, maybe that was intentional. Just couldn't get into it. Hope this is not the start of a slump. (*Bites nails nervously*) ...more
Uwe Hook
It is a book that stimulates introspection and is almost too profound for casual reading at times. Vincent's undelivered letters to his brother Theo provide the body of the book with the author tying them together with her narrative where necessary. It's a slow read but worth the effort. ...more
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