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Let Me Tell You About a Man I Knew

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  348 ratings  ·  82 reviews
No one knows the name of 'the painter' who comes to the asylum in St Remy in the south of France, but they see his wild, red hair and news of his savaged ear soon circulates in the village and comes to the notice of the wife of the asylum's doctor. She feels herself drawn to him and learns that his presence is disturbing - and not just to her either. But back she goes - ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 31st 2016 by Virago Press Ltd
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Bill Higgins My daughter just received this book from Heywood Hill, in London as part of a gift subscription. You can check out their website if you're interested.…moreMy daughter just received this book from Heywood Hill, in London as part of a gift subscription. You can check out their website if you're interested. (less)
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Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
May 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016
I think one of the reasons that I enjoyed this book so much is that Susan Fletcher manages to write a story about Vincent van Gogh's stay at the hospital of Saint-Paul-de Mausole and his meetings with Jeanne Trabuc, and yet Fletcher doesn't let Vincent take over the story. That could easily have happened, he is a charismatic man, but the book is pretty much Jeanne's story, her recollections about her childhood, her marriage life as she steals away moments to talk to the mad painter. Meetings she ...more
The Book Whisperer (aka Boof)
This weekend I sat in the garden, the sun shining, and read the most beautiful, lyrical and vividly written book – Let Me Tell You About A Man I Knew. This isn’t the first book I have read by this author (more on that later) so I knew that I was in for a treat and I wasn’t let down in the slightest.

This book is a feast for the senses. From the very first sentence, I was whisked immediately away to the Provencial countryside as a new spring is dawning and I was immersed in colours and fragrances
Mar 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

As I write this commentary, only fourteen readers have rated Susan Fletcher’s Let Me Tell You About a Man I Knew on Goodreads. Seven have issued the book a flawless five stars, while another six have issued appreciative fours. Only one reader has gone lower and in all honesty, I’m quite comfortable being a lone dissenter. What works for one reader doesn’t always work for another and there’s nothing wrong with that so long as
This historical novel about the year Vincent Van Gogh spent at the mental hospital of Saint-Paul-de-Mausole (1889–90) is from the perspective of the warden’s wife, Jeanne Trabuc. Now 55 and with three grown sons, Jeanne fears life’s adventures and sensual pleasures are over for her. Yet a friendship with this volatile new Dutchman makes her think that maybe she can reclaim an attitude of excited anticipation.

If what you actually want is a book about van Gogh, you’d be better off reading Barbara
Mairead Hearne (
A very gentle story of a marriage that struggled and how a change in the wind can bring about something rather special.
Reminiscent of Joanne Harris or Kate Mosse
Read in two sittings ~ I was temporarily transported to Provence 1889......colours, descriptions!!
My kind of book......

Full Review as published on Tripfiction..

‘Provence ~ May 1889

He’s foreign. Dutch I think. A strange man. Wild. And self-wounded, I hear – violently so’

Let Me Tell You About A Man I Knew is a beautiful novel written by
Deborah Pickstone
Another historical hero of mine. Van Gogh is possibly the most original painter in history (my opinion) and certainly one of the most influential. How surprised he would have been to know that! The novel is a fairly quiet story in which he features almost as an aside - it tells the story of the resolution of the marriage of Jeanne and Charles Trebuc, whose portraits Vincent painted during his stay at the asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. This is of course purely a fictional account though the ...more
Renita D'Silva
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautiful and haunting. A brilliantly imagined window into the little known history of Van Gogh when he was hospitalised in France.
Lynn Williams
Jul 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
My primary reading these days falls into the SFF bracket without doubt, however, there are certain authors that I really enjoy that step outside that field that I always want to read and Susan Fletcher is one of those authors. I first fell in love with her writing after reading Witch Light (which I think is also known as Corrag). Fletcher has a way of writing things that simply make them stand out from the page. Her writing is beautiful and evocative and
Elite Group
Jul 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Emotionally touching and beautifully crafted.

Set in the town of St Remy in the south of France, 'Let Me Tell You About a Man I Know' tells the story of Jeanne Trabuc, wife of the warden of the mental asylum Saint Paul de Mausole. With her 3 sons having grown up and left home and her husband Charles absorbed in his work at the hospital, Jeanne is lonely. However, when a new patient arrives at the asylum - a Dutch painter who was sent over from the nearby town of Arles after viciously cutting off
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
A really beautiful book. My review (plus a Q&A with the author) is here:
Rebecca Griffiths
A truly beautiful book about loss and love and the grief that is the human condition. Reading it saved me during a truly dark few weeks in my own life, and for this, I shall forever be grateful to this wonderful author.

Reading about Jeanne, and being able to live alongside her in that sun-filled part of France all those lifetimes ago, gave me somewhere to go in my head ... her world and her life, was, for a little while, a better place than mine to dwell. I felt so deeply for this ageing woman,
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book. We went to Saint Rémy a few weeks ago and I felt I was back there again. We saw the Van Gogh Show Carrières de Lumières at Les Baux with Vincent’s paintings projected on the walls of the quarries. This book brought it all to life with the wonderful poetic style.
This is one book I’m keeping to read again !
Camille de Fleurville
May 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
More detailed review to come. Meanwhile...
I had doubts about this fictionalised life of Van Gogh during the year he spent at the asylum of Saint-Rémy-de Provence after the crisis during which he cut his ear in Arles. The press advert claimed it to be family with "Girl with pearl earring " and the last Donna Tartt's because they both dealt with other Dutch painters -Vermeer and Fabritius.
No need to be cautious and no real family links with the other books. Most of all, no need to claim for some.
Daphne Sharpe
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The story of Vincent Van Gogh who was confined to the asylum of Saint Paul de Mausole in Provence as seen through the eyes of Jeanne Trabuc who was the wife of the warden. Jeanne and her husband Charles are as much prisoners of the asylum as the inmates as they struggle to find staff and money to maintain this dilapidated building, along with the ageing nuns who help treat and nurse the patients.
Jeanne found her hopes and dreams crushed on the outside of the asylum as much as those on the
Gem BookEater
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It is 1889 and the hospital of Saint-Paul-de Mausole, home to the mentally ill, has a new patient. A passionate artist with copper-red hair but only half an ear.

The warden of the hospital has rules for his wife to keep her safe from the patients. She must never stray from their little white cottage next door into the grounds without him by her side. But tales of this man’s odd mixture of insanity and self-awareness are too intriguing for Jeanne Trabuc to resist. Especially when she has nothing
Ana Ovejero
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Nobody knows the name of the painter that has arrived to the Monastery in Saint-Rémy, which has become an assylum for the troubled mind.

However, soon gossip about the painter savage red hair and the story of his severed ear fills the talking of the women in the market of the village. As you soon see, the painter is not other than Vincent Van Gogh.

After the turbulent life with Gaughin, who is accused of sending Vincent to madness, he looks for refuge in the French countryside.

Jeanne Trabuc is the
Tina Maison
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Gentle book with lovely prose. Left me feeling melancholy.
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was so looking forward to Susan Fletcher's Let Me Tell You About a Man I Knew, particularly after so enjoying Eve Green and The Silver Dark Sea. Set in Provence in 1889, Let Me Tell You... is immediately different in its feel to the aforementioned. It focuses upon a secluded hospital, Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, which is home to the mentally ill. Jeanne Trabue, the wife of the warden, becomes entranced by a new resident, a painter, named Vincent van Gogh.

The sense of place and the characters who
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gentle book that says a lot in a very understated way. Lovely writing.

The Vincent Van Gogh character was almost irrelevant for me - it could have been any painter (although I did look up the paintings referred to, which was very interesting). What I loved about this book was its quietly beautiful portrayal of the way a couple can drift apart without realising it after years of marriage. The misunderstanding of each other through poor communication was poignantly written. The two main
Melissa Riley
Sep 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. I loved this way more than I thought I would. Just realised I never came back and reviewed. I might need to re-read!
Lucy Mac
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Exquisitely paced. Susan Fletcher's prose is a joy, almost hypnotic. She has breathed life into a legend. This book stayed with me long after I put it down.
Lisa Walker
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved this book, the detail was lovely.
John Reid
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love the work of Vincent van Gogh. As a youngster, one portrait especially drew my attention. It was the wedge shaped face of a man with a high, rounded brow, receding hairline, rosacean cheeks and what appeared hard, dark eyes. It at first made me think the subject severe and humourless – except, on closer inspection, and under guidance from an arts teacher, I was able to see the slightest hint of a smile beneath the moustache and suggestion of crows feet at the outer corners of the eyes. The ...more
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The story is imaginary but the characters are all real. Jeanne the wife of Charles Trabuc the warden of the 'asylum' at the foot of the Les Apilles where a new patient has arrived, the first new one in 4 years. A Dutchman, his copper coloured hair and beard, tales of his savagery and passion spread quickly and his painting, his ceaseless need to express his visions onto canvass in colours only he can see.. Layer on layer of thick paint, almost daubed on so that it could take weeks to dry, his ...more
Annette Morris
Nov 18, 2017 rated it liked it

Our reading group loved this beautifully written novel about the imagined life of the wife of the warden at the asylum where Vincent van Gough was a patient. She comes to know the painter during his stay there in spite of being forbidden to have any contact with him and the story is as much about the restrictions on HER life and her relationship with her controlling husband as it is about her relationship with van Gough. If you want a story about the artist then this isn't it, but if you enjoy a
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A quiet, tender gem of a novel. It's not really 'about' Vincent van Gogh at all - it's about friendship, and most of all it's about Jeanne and her husband, Charles, trying to find each other again after a long marriage and many small disappointments. Jeanne sees wisdom about life in Vincent, but really he's the catalyst and it's inside herself that she finds the person she was and the person she needs to be. If the canvas is small (pun intended) the picture is exquisite. Jeanne's memories and ...more
Tan Clare
Another reviewer commented that for this book, they needn't have specifically selected the character of Vincent van Gogh, but any other painter. Whilst it is true that many other painters also recognise that "The heart is the painter; Love and moments are the art", to quote directly from the book, the choice of Vincent van Gogh as the pivotal character leading to the awakening and rejuvenation between Charles and Jeanne's marriage, bring a bittersweetness which is just right.
Katherine Sunderland
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was intrigued by the blurb for this book - I'm always curious about an author who has either taken a character from a well known classic or figure from history and imagined their "other story", or explored another part or relationship in their life. This story focusses on van Gogh's time at a mental asylum in the South of France in the 1880s and the impact his stay has on the wife of the warden.

No one knows the name of 'the painter' who comes to the asylum in St Remy in the south of France,
Stephanie Percival
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book. The fictional story around actual events was cleverly done and very believable. The author managed to portray Jeanne as a real human being, and I use the word 'portray' because the structure was like a portrait being layered.
The book made me more interested in Van Gogh, and I enjoyed looking at his paintings with a new perspective. I will definitely read more by this author.
Michelle Jedrzejowska
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Susan Fletcher is the author of Eve Green, which won the Whitbread Award for First Novel, Oystercatchers, and Corrag. She lives in the United Kingdom.