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Sacré Bleu

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Humor (2012)
“Christopher Moore is a very sick man, in the very best sense of that word.”
—Carl Hiassen

“[Moore’s novels] deftly blend surreal, occult, and even science-fiction doings with laugh-out-loud satire of contemporary culture.”
—Washington Post

“If there’s a funnier writer out there, step forward.”

Absolutely nothing is sacred to Christopher Moore. The phenomenally popular, New York Times bestselling satirist whom the Atlanta Journal-Constitution calls, “Stephen King with a whoopee cushion and a double-espresso imagination” has already lampooned Shakespeare, San Francisco vampires, marine biologists, Death…even Jesus Christ and Santa Claus! Now, in his latest masterpiece, Sacré Bleu, the immortal Moore takes on the Great French Masters. A magnificent “Comedy d’Art” from the author of Lamb, Fool, and Bite Me, Moore’s Sacré Bleu is part mystery, part history (sort of), part love story, and wholly hilarious as it follows a young baker-painter as he joins the dapper Henri Toulouse-Lautrec on a quest to unravel the mystery behind the supposed “suicide” of Vincent van Gogh.

421 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 3, 2012

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About the author

Christopher Moore

37 books89.7k followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Christopher Moore is an American writer of absurdist fiction. He grew up in Mansfield, OH, and attended Ohio State University and Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA.

Moore's novels typically involve conflicted everyman characters suddenly struggling through supernatural or extraordinary circumstances. Inheriting a humanism from his love of John Steinbeck and a sense of the absurd from Kurt Vonnegut, Moore is a best-selling author with major cult status.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,707 reviews
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 57 books230k followers
March 16, 2013
Y'know, I could give a damn about painting. Van Gogh, Manet, Monet. I'm dimly aware of them, I know they're somehow culturally important, but I'm just not interested. It's not my cup of tea.

Similarly, I *really* don't give a damn about the lives of said painters in Paris in the 1800s. Just don't care.

It says a lot about Christopher Moore that he can write a book centering around these things, and with a slight splash of the fantastic make a story that holds my interest, engages my curiosity, and makes me laugh my ass off.

And I learned a few things, making me slightly less of an ignorant cretin. That's nice too.

Profile Image for Kemper.
1,388 reviews6,646 followers
April 15, 2012
Ever wonder why all those 19th century European painters were so batshit crazy? According to Christopher Moore it wasn’t just the absinthe, lead poisoning and/or syphilis.

Lucien Lessard is a talented painter who also makes a mean loaf of bread in his family’s bakery. One of Lucien’s best friends is another artist named Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec who doesn’t let his short stature stop him from drinking constantly while trying to sleep with every whore in Paris. Lucien and Henri are saddened by the news of the suicide of their friend Vincent van Gogh. Lucien’s world is rocked even more by the return of his old flame Juliette who vanished two years earlier.

Juliette wants to pick up where they left off and insists that Lucien do a nude painting of her, but unbeknownst to him, Juliette is actually a supernatural entity linked to a special shade of blue that she makes with a gnome-like paint supplier known only as the Colorman. Through the course of the book, we learn the long history of Juliette and the Colorman and discover that they’ve inspired and destroyed many an unsuspecting artist.

Moore’s created a historical fiction with a supernatural twist as he uses many real artists as characters. As you’d expect with Moore, it’s got plenty of bawdy humor with just enough heart to keep it from spinning off into complete absurd nonsense. All in all, it’s a fairly entertaining mix of history, fantasy, mystery, romance and humor.

However, this ended up in the second tier of Moore books for me, behind ones like Lamb or Fool. While there are plenty of laugh out loud lines, he didn’t hit the consistent tone of hilarity that he’s managed in his best work.

The structure is a bit of a puzzle because there’s so much time jumping done in the story. No only do we get many flashbacks to Juliette and the Colorman’s past, there’s also lots of inserts to Lucien’s past, and then there’s all the random trivia about the color blue in the art world. At the end, most of this has added up to a complete story, but for the first half of the book it felt like we were just kind of wandering around and looking for random bits of story to piece together.

Not bad, but not my favorite Christopher Moore. I think it might have been more entertaining if he had just written his version of the art scene at the time and left out the supernatural stuff because that part of it felt like the same kind of plot he’s delivered in his other books like Bloodsucking Fiends or Coyote Blue.
Profile Image for Stephanie *Eff your feelings*.
239 reviews1,173 followers
April 28, 2012
Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art is heavy on the blue and the art, but light on the comedy.

The book is set in the art scene of 19th century Paris, a fascinating time for the art world. Every artist of this era makes an appearance in Sacre Bleu, Mr. Moore did a ton of impressive research for this book.

The book begins with the end of Vincent Van Gogh’s troubled life, an apparent suicide by gunshot. But somehow Vincent gets himself to his doctor before his death for treatment, where he raves about the color blue. Lucien Lessard (fictional) a baker and aspiring painter and Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (real artist, fictionalized) become detectives into Van Gogh’s death, because it is odd that he tried to save himself right after trying to off himself, no matter how crazy he’d become.

It turns out there is a pattern. They find that almost all of their fellow artists have at one point been obsessed with a model, or muse, to the point that they have lost time and paintings. This includes Lucien who’s obsession is Juliette and for Henri it’s a beautiful laundress with red hair, whom you will see in Henri Touluse-Lautrec’s actual paintings. These muses are more than just beautiful people, they are one supernatural being called Blue. Blue and The Colorman, a troll like creature, make ultra marine blue (sacred blue) through a ritual that involves an artists painting, love, pain and sacrifice. This can leave the artist mad, or even dead like Vincent.

Here are a couple of passages I loved.

“An artist cannot let madness stop him from making art; he simply has to channel it.”


“They are not whores as they would be if they took a step outside, or as they will be when they are called down stairs by the madam, but they are nothing else either. They are between. Not what they used to be and not what they’ve become.”

I feel “between” all the time.

A thought I had as I read this. I make my living as an artist (I am not even close to the level as the artists portrayed in this book) and I draw people from life on a daily basis. One of the comments I get all the time is “this (talent) must be a gift from God.” This is always said in the spirit of good will, and is meant only in the most complementary way, but it has always bugged the crap out of me. What I do has nothing to do with some magical being in the sky sticking his finger into my brain and flipping some switch. It’s genetic and hard work, not magic. Shoot, I’d rather be really good at something more lucrative, truth be told.

But this book makes art into magic, the magic of the color blue. I wonder if Christopher Moore was playing with the idea that most people (who can only draw stick figures) look upon those with talent as if they have some magic, or does he himself feel that way.

I am pleased he wrote this book about these artists, the impressionists, that's rare to find.
Profile Image for Dani Peloquin.
165 reviews13 followers
May 12, 2012
Let me get this out in the open first, I love Moore. I think he is hilarious and, at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, ahead of his time. It is for these same reasons that I love the Impressionists. However, the coupling of these two together does not seem to work.

In this novel, Moore attempts to understand why van Gogh would attempt to kill himself and then walk a distance to seek a doctor. In order to get to the bottom of this, detectives Lucien Lessard Henri Toulouse-Lautrec take on the case. Along the way, we meet the great masters in painting from Monet to Manet and from Whistler to Gaugin. While this seems like it would be a fascinating and quick read, I found myself barely able to plug through. I devised excuses to put the book down or not read it at all. While I typically average a book a week, this novel took me almost a month to finish. I found it dragged out and lacking Moore's snarky and fantastic wit. There are glimmers of Moore's craft but not enough to hold my interest. Sadly, I finished the book but without any great enthusiasm for the characters or plot. As one might be able to tell, this is not my favorite of Moore's work. Judging from other critics, this novel will very well have a following but sadly it was not a home run for me.

Profile Image for Eris.
119 reviews12 followers
February 12, 2012
There are those who love Christopher Moore for his bizarre, irreverent and slicing wit. There are those who love him for his ability to create portals into absurd realities, and his ability to make those absurd realities seem almost plausible. For the first group - this book is not for you. For the second set - you're gonna love it.

There are slices of Moore's strange humor throughout, but this book leans more heavily towards a fusion of fantasy, historical fiction and satire. The tale begins with strange humor, but by the middle you find that you have been pulled into France and are drinking absinthe with Lautrec. A good read, quite an unpredictable ride for the most part, and full of bits of history.

I don't think the "Bite Me" crowd will find this one much fun, but if you enjoyed the meld of history, commentary and humor of books like Lamb then you will enjoy this work.
Profile Image for Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh.
167 reviews501 followers
January 10, 2014
The book blurb exaggerates - amusing rather than hilarious. Moore does have a keen sense of the absurd so if your taste runs to ribald, irreverent humour you'll probably like this. Great premise, a twist on the overdone vampire tale. Rather than blood it’s 'sacre blue', the raw passion of artists extracted from their masterpieces that serves as an elixir of eternal life for The Colorman aka ‘Poopstick’
A hodgepodge mixture of historical fiction, murder mystery, humour and fantasy – helps but not necessary if you’re interested in art. Well researched you’ll pick up some interesting tidbits. Renoir was a peach, “a person of extraordinary kindness” Degas "probably the best draftsman of all the Impressionists, but in person a complete prick." Toulouse-Lautrec plays a major part -fascinatingly complex. A gentleman, a titled count in fact, a libertine who loved cognac & absinthe. Being close to a dwarf in stature he’s used to being treated with contempt - thus his sense of commonality and his compassion for whores, his preference for their company. "One loses perspective after a week in a brothel" He adored their "humanness, their perfect imperfection."
Enjoyable and original – worth reading just for the bit where Lautrec & Oscar Wilde go on a drunk inspiring Wilde to write "The Picture of Dorian Gray." I was definitely entertained anyway – a solid 4 stars.
Cons: to be honest none of the genres done exceptionally well but still - the blending worked. To slow a build and a bit convoluted so give it time.

"Blue is beauty, not truth. Blue is sly, slick, it slides into the room sideways, a slippery trickster"
Profile Image for Marvin.
1,414 reviews5,317 followers
January 10, 2013
Sacre Bleu is a bit different than the usual Moore novel. While it can be hilarious and probably beats the record for the gratuitous use of the word "penis", it does not rise to the continuous hurts-to-laugh level as his Pine Cove books. I also think it is safe to say the novel is not the equal of Lamb or A Dirty Job but it is not minor Moore neither. Sacre Bleu is perhaps a more serious effort on his part. He clearly did a lot of research on the Impressionist artists of France in the late 19th century and one can learn a great deal about this historical period in art from reading this book. I love Moore's use of illustrations of the various art works that are referenced in the book. There is also some excellent characterizations throughout, especially with the fictional baker/artist Lucien and his not so fictional friend Toulouse Lautrec. Pretty much every important artist and their models turn up in the book somewhere. The novel starts with the death of Vincent Van Gogh and then follows Lucien and Henri (Toulouse Lautrec)) as they question the conventional verdict of death by suicide. What follows is the nice blend of factual information with fantasy. I happen to know a lot about the Impressionists so I could easily follow and enjoy the author's playful manipulation of fact and fantasy. But I also suspect this may have turned off other readers who like their Moore books overflowing with slapstick humor. While reading this book, I wondered if the author is upping his game by going for a more epic type of tale...or perhaps he just made up a good idea and went with the flow. Either way, I found this is be quite entertaining and place it in the upper middle of Moore's already impressive repertoire. Three-an-a-half stars teetering into four star territory.

Update: (as of 1-10-13) I wrote this review in April of 2012 and, since then, I've been recommending this novel quite a lot to my friends. That and the fact that I can't get these characters out of my head causes me to move the ratings to four stars.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,845 reviews16.3k followers
June 14, 2016
I read somewhere that all of Christopher Moore’s books had been purchased as film rights but none yet had been made into a movie.

Sacre Bleu may be the first.

Resplendent with Moore’s characteristic wit and humor, Sacre Bleu shines with a new maturity and virtuoso swagger of talent. I think Moore has turned a corner in his work, beginning with Fool published in 2009. No doubt about it, Moore’s collection of San Francisco / Pine Cove / Hawaii / west coast recurring character series is fun, I’m certainly a fan, but Fool and Sacre Bleu have gone outside this model and have stretched his creative and imaginative powers. What is most exciting is that an observant fan of Moore’s can see the potential for even greater works.

Sacre Bleu is about the color blue.

Moore’s genius takes us to 1890s France, amidst the Impressionist movement to discover the mystery behind Van Gogh’s murder. Yes murder. And we follow Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and painter-baker Lucien through space and time, and some brothels, to uncover who or what is behind a series of unusual occurrences.

Very, very entertaining, one of Moore’s best.

Profile Image for Stephanie.
1,541 reviews75 followers
July 27, 2016
There are those who love Christopher Moore for his bizarre, irreverent wit. And there are those who love him for his ability to create portals into absurd realities, and his ability to make those absurd realities seem almost plausible. For the first group - this book is not for you. For the second set - you're gonna love it.

Moore really did his homework, when researching for this novel. My mother has a degree in Art History, and believe me, I've seen some things about all my favorite painters! (I've read some things, too.) All the research really shows, and I loved all the back-history about the making of paint, in the Renaissance era. I loved the little touches Moore created, in the artists' personalities as well, the part about Michelangelo was hilarious.

There are slices of Moore's strange humor throughout, but this book leans more heavily towards a fusion of fantasy, historical fiction and satire. The tale begins with strange humor, but by the middle you find that you have been pulled into France and are drinking & whoring with Lautrec. It's a good read, but quite an unpredictable ride for the most part, and full of bits of history.

I don't think the "Bite Me" crowd will find this one much fun, but if you enjoyed the meld of history, commentary and humor of books like Lamb then you will enjoy this work. It may have not really resolved the "mystery" of what "really happened to Van Gogh", but... that's ok. You will have enjoyed the ride.
Profile Image for Tom.
325 reviews28 followers
September 30, 2012
"Sacre Bleu" is the best Tom Robbins novel since "Half-Asleep in Frog Pajamas." Of course, it was written by Christopher Moore, not Mr. Robbins.

If you are looking for a typical Moore laughfest like "You Suck" or "Fool", you might be disappointed. I was pleasantly surprised. "Sacre Bleu" is beautifully, carefully, and intelligently written. It's set in the late 19th Century, and follows some very real people (the Van Gogh Brothers, Monet, Manet) as they paint and live. The main characters are Lucien Lessard (a fictional baker and painter), and his dear friend, the very real Henri Toulouse-Latrec. Against the very real and explosive Paris art world, our heroes work to unravel a very odd mystery, involving "The Colorman" and his beautiful Muse cohort, "Bleu."

See, the only true blue (npi) is a rare pigment only available from The Colorman. Its origin, and its effects, are key threads in the storyline.

You see...

It would take nearly 400 pages to describe the plot adequately, and that's this book's length.

I compare it to Tom Robbins' best works, because there is a ton of real information buried inside the fiction. (Robbins tackled painting in "Skinny Legs and All")

"Sacre Bleu" is a funny book. But "Fool" was the sort of "Getting 'faced with your friends in a bar" sort of boisterousness. "Sacre Bleu" has a more refined humor, like getting 'faced with your friends drinking cognac at home. (Fret not: there are still penis jokes)

I really recommend this book, especially to artists and art lovers. Oddly, I think Robbins' fans would enjoy it more than the author's own. I loved "Sacre Bleu," but in a Robbinsesque way, the same way you love some women like your highschool sweetheart and others like your college girlfriend. The love has the same intensity, but in inexplicably different ways.
Profile Image for Audrey.
371 reviews86 followers
May 12, 2012
I need to start my review by describing what I brought to this book, and what was at stake for me as an individual reader. I studied art history in college; I have both a B.A. and an M.A. in art history. That is to say, I have a deep personal interest in art and the story behind its creation and place in history, but I don't think this really affected me much with this book, since I went in knowing it is fiction. I also have read Christopher Moore books in the past and enjoyed them. I do think this affected my reading of this book, mainly because I went in expecting to enjoy his writing style and humor.

Sacre Bleu was a tough read for me. It took me longer than usual to get through, mostly because I was often bored while reading. Moore has a humorous, irreverent style, but for me, the jokes in this book just weren't funny. It's a very dialog heavy book, but I felt like most of it was throw away dialog. The jokes are mainly having to do with some combination of bonking, shagging, and/or penis, and this kind of humor really ran thin pretty quickly. I wanted more substance behind the jokes, more wit. Instead, it was as if Moore had a post-it on his computer that said, "When in doubt, type 'penis'."

I thought the story itself had a lot of promise. The mystical source of ultramarine, the most expensive and dear of all colors, associated with the Virgin herself. A Colorman and Muse that transcend time to bring both inspiration and destruction to artists. There was a lot of potential there. I never felt the story delivered, though. It felt meandering, and kind of dull. After thinking about it for a while, I decided that this was the result of a combination of lack of character development and just too many things going on in the plot. I'd love to see another writer take on this story, to see what it could have been when delivered with more seriousness and exactitude.

One of the positive attributes of this book is the design. The physical volume is absolutely beautiful. I love the rich blue of the cover, and the design that integrates Toulouse-Lautrec and the Eiffel Tower. There are color illustrations of famous Impressionist paintings throughout the text, which relate back to the story. And the text of the pages itself is blue. Altogether, it's really nicely done and in the spirit of the story.

Sadly, Sacre Bleu is the weakest Christopher Moore book I've read. It lacked the spirit and true humor of his past writing, and struggled with character development and focus. I hope his next endeavor is more successful.
Profile Image for Melki.
5,574 reviews2,308 followers
March 6, 2013
Boy, oh boy...it seems everybody likes to look at paintings of naked women.

Years ago, I worked at the Skill Development Center at the US Army War College. This was a fantastic facility for active and retired servicemen and women. There was a wood shop, picture framing services, an auto shop where you could work on your own car, or have the pros do it for you, a darkroom for amateur photographers, and a huge art studio that featured everything from weaving looms to pottery wheels. There was even a small gallery where local artists could exhibit their work.

One pleasant spring month, the Art Association decided to showcase all the "life" drawings and paintings they had tucked away in their various attics and basements. They hung canvas after canvas featuring female flesh in all its many shapes, sizes and splendors.

It was the ONLY TIME EVER that the three guys from the automotive shop came over to take a look at what was hanging in the art gallery.

Behold the power of nudity!

Whenever I see a painting of a nude, I can't help wondering about all the hours the artist and the model spent together, one naked and one clothed. It's a strange situation, you must admit. And when the painter was finished for the day, did the model just put on her clothes and go home, or did something else happen...

Apparently, Christopher Moore has spent some time wondering about this as well, and decided to use his formidable imagination to fill in some of the blanks. This book is a former art student's dream come true. Here is a wonderful look at some famous artists, reimagined and behaving strangely. The gang's all here - Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, Pissarro, and Toulouse-Latrec with no pants on! They all hang out together, talking shop and drinking cognac. As they compare notes, they begin to realize that they've all had memory lapses, and some pictures they remember painting just aren't there anymore.

Is it the mysterious muse that haunts them all, or does it have something to do with a weird little paint seller called "The Colorman?"

If you come to this title expecting a typical Christopher Moore book, you're apt to be somewhat disappointed. There's no lust-inspiring lizard, no pal of the messiah, and not a fairly stupid angel to be found in these pages. There ARE some good wisecracks, but the general zaniness that pervades much of Moore's other works is just not there.

However, if you're looking for a book about artists and the love of painting, this will probably satisfy. Moore also manages to sum up in just a few words what it's like to be an artist:

...fits of hubris, followed by soul-crushing self-doubt."

Yep, that's it. That's why I mostly stick to paint-by-number these days.
Profile Image for Vivian.
2,839 reviews386 followers
November 13, 2017
"Why are you lying on the floor?"

"Solidarity. And we ran out of cognac. This is my preferred out of cognac posture."

Ooh la la! Yes, this is absolutely an art history wankfest. Some of it, actually a good deal of it is startlingly true and there are some liberties taken for the story's sake, but I have to say that all the little toss away lines, the references for Michelangelo, cave paintings in France to Artemisia Gentileschi evidence a great deal of thought and research. The elements work well with the storyline.
"No, a fucking cat. It's a theme, Lucien. The name of the place is Le Chat Noir."

"Yes, but when you did the poster for the Moulin Rouge you didn't do a clown fucking a windmill."

"Sadly, no, they rejected my first drawings. And I'm good friends with one of the clowns there, Cha-U-Kao. She would have modeled for me. She's both a clown and a lesbian. At the same time! Art weeps for the missed opportunity."

"You could still paint her," said Lucien.

"No. She hates cats. But what magnificent symbolism that would be. I tell you, Lucien, these symbolists, Redon and Gaugin, they're on to something."

To successfully mock something requires a familiarity of the material beyond recitation. It necessitates being able to take knowledge and twist it. Moore does a fantastic job creating an engaging mystery set in Post Impressionist Paris. Impressionism and Post Impressionism are not my favorites, so I was surprised that I enjoyed this vision as much as I did. Honestly, I've never had a fond feeling for Toulouse-Lautrec, but this really does a bang up job of presenting an alternate view of him.
"I have done some experiments with absinthe, and I can attest that it has dangerous hallucinogenic powers, in particular the ability to make homely women appear attractive."

"Well, it's eighty percent alcohol and the wormwood in it is poisonous. I suspect what you are seeing are glimpses of your own death."

"Yes, but with exquisite bosoms. How do you explain those?"

The mystery of Bleu, the Sacre Bleu... I'm not going to spoil it. It's good. Definitely entertaining and one can expect that requisite Moore vulgarity, lighthearted attitude towards violence, and wit.
"Forgive me, I didn't realize you were both deaf and a buffoon. I am, as I was ten seconds ago the Count Henri-Marie-Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa, and I am looking for Carmen Gaudin." Henri was finding the detective work did not agree with his constitution as it involved talking to people who were odd or stupid, without the benefit of the calming effect of alcohol.

Lucien looked to each of them then grimaced. "Good God, Henri, is that smell coming from you?"

"I was going to come right over as soon as I heard you were awake, but the girls insisted on giving me a bath first. I sat vigil for you for a week, my friend."

"One sits vigil over the dying, not ten blocks away, on a pile of whores, out of his mind on opium and absinthe."

If you're offended by any of the quotes then Moore is really not an author I'd recommend, but for others, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I found the syphilis jokes entertaining, too. Seriously, it's pretty interesting how many of the artists died of syphilis and Toulouse-Lautrec, for all his infamous brothel living, was not one of them!

Words to live by:
"That's a horrible plan."
"Yes, but I have chosen to ignore that."
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,461 reviews926 followers
April 15, 2013
Blue is the sky, the sea, a god's eye, a devil's tail, a birth, a strangulation, a virgin's cloak, a monkey's ass. It's a butterfly, a bird, a spicy joke, the saddest song, the brightest day.
Blue is beauty, not truth.
Blue is glory and power, a wave, a particle, a vibration, a resonance, a spirit, a passion, a memory, a vanity, a metaphor, a dream.
Blue is a simile.
Blue, she is like a woman.

Yes it's true, this book is about the colour blue. And about a mystery woman called Bleu, and Juliette, and a hundred names more. The book is also about the painters who used the blue colour in their art, starting with Vincent van Gogh in the prologue and continuing with a Who's Who of the artistic world at the end of the XIX century. It is also a novel about a fascinating place, a Mecca of its time exerting a powerful attraction not unlike a black hole's event horizon:

When you start to write about art and Paris in the 1890's, the possibilities absolutely explode. During the time frame of Lucien's story, between 1863 and 1891, nearly everyone who was anyone was in Paris, and not just Paris, but on Montmartre. Mark Twain, Claude Debussy, Erik Satie, Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde, Charles Baudelaire, Emile Zola, John Singer Sargent, and on and on and on.

The year 1863 is important for it marks the birth of the modern era in painting. The artists who were denied entry into the prestigious and slightly moldy galleries of the Louvre, opened their own exposition - Salon des Refuses - bringing together Manet, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Cezanne, Degas, Berthe Morisot (her in particular, as women didn't paint, and if they did, they weren't recognized for it). The old school considered them a Wild Bunch, loud and irreverent, out to shock the gentile world and to destroy the established rules of composition and posing.

Here's a dialogue from the Salon between Pere Lessard and Pissaro on the impact of Le dejeuner sur l'herbe by Edouard Manet :

I don't understand, said Lessard. There are hundreds of nudes in the exhibition. They act as if they've never seen one before.
- Those others are goddesses, heroines, myths. This is different. This changes everything.
- Because she's too skinny?
- No, because she's real.

I'm already getting away of myself, into artsy debate, before laying down the structure of the book, but this structure is in fact about the art and the artist, about atitudes, techniques, ideologies, inspirations, subjects, 'plein aire', light, darkness, life on the Butte for the penniless painter, wild nights at the Moulin Rouge, coffee and absynthe at Le Rat Mort, dancing at Le Moulin de la Galette. To hold it all together and not to devolve in simple name dropping and sightseeing tour, Moore has designed a cover story, basically a mystery / crime investigation where a trio of impromptu detectives try to determine the cause for a series of mysterious deaths in the artist community. The culprits are made known to the reader right from the start, what remains to be discerned is the nature of their magical abilities and their relationship with the colour blue. The Colorman is selling paints to the artists, while his partner Bleu contacts them and 'comissions' various oeuvres, serving often as model and with the ability to change her appearance from one artist to another. Creativity, love, sacrifice and a bit of magical hocus pocus walk hand in hand (not to mention the particular scourge of the Paris artist of the period: syphilis).

Lucien Lessard is a young baker on the Butte, following in the steps of a father who was on friendly terms with all the painters in the neighbourhood and who encouraged his son to achieve the dream that eluded him ( I would trade it all if I could lay down the colors of water like our friend Monet, or move paint like the joy in a young girl's smile like Renoir ) . Lucien heart is set on his inconstant girlfriend Juliette. who dares him to paint a nude portrait of her, then disappears (after an unfortunate collision with a 'crepes' pan). Lucien is helped in his quest to reclaim the girl by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and by Professeur Bastard - father and son (pronounced Bas'Tahrd) - academicians with varied scientific interests, as well as a hobby in rat training, mechanical contraptions and dubious advice about where to find the best snails for the pot:

- As you know, in addition to my other studies, I am an amateur necrolinguist -
- It means he likes to lick the dead, explains Henri.

Monsieur Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa is by far the most colourful, foul mouthed, wickedly entertaining character in the whole book, practically stealing every scene he appears in, displaying a full range of emotions and surprising depth when he lets the clown mask slip away:

Lucien: Are you saying the woman I love is a whore?
Henri : You make it sound so sordid. Some of my best friends are whores.

Professeur Bastard is designing a pair of automated shoes for the crippled painter, an opportunity for the author to poke some fun at the steampunk genre:
- Perhaps a clockwork design, said the professeur wistfully.
- As long as the pendulum is enormous, said Henry with a grin. I have a reputation to maintain.

On discovering the true nature of mystery woman Juliette:

Overall, Sacre Bleu was a surprise for me, in a very positive way. The change of scenery from the Big Sur misty coves, the careful

research and the more serious overall treatment of the story that keeps in check the slapstick moments and the word puns in favour of rendering a credible portrait of the times and the people that made Montmartre famous the world over, have come together in one of most entertaining books on the art of painting I've read so far. It is difficult to draw the line and to determine what is fact and what is invention in the account of the lives of all these famous people ( remember: 'Blue is beauty, not truth') , but with the couple of books I've read and with Wiki articles available, I can confirm that Mr. Moore hits pretty close to the mark. My high rating may reflect my own interest in the subject : I've spent about twice as many hours in the Musee d'Orsay as in Le Louvre, and I was already familiar with all the illustrations used in the book, but I see no impediment in following the story for somebody who is just starting to study the French Impressionists. I'll end my review with a series of quotes on the artists featured in the book:

Vincent Van Gogh: Colors should be free of the constraint of words

- Whistler, Manet called. How's your mother?
- Ah, Mother, said Whistler in English. She's an arrangement in gray and black, her disapproval falls like a shadow across the ocean.

Henri on the Maja picture by Goya : The most sublime backside in art

(Note: check it out, the guy is absolutely right)

Seurat had invented and perfected a technique, pointilism, based on solid color theory, but now he felt imprisoned by it. Sometimes, it turned out, art was 'what' you had to say, not 'how' you said it.
Profile Image for Norm.
Author 18 books39 followers
April 23, 2012
When I went to his signing at Anderson's Books, Moore took one look at my orange University of Illinois T-shirt and said, "nobody looks good in orange."

So you could see that after three years of writing Sacre Bleu, he was still fixated on colors, though completely wrong about how great I look in orange.

That said, Sacre Blue took off at a plodding pace, with minimal comedic moments, but the history was nothing short of fascinating, so he captured my interest in the first chapter with the murder of one of my favorite painters, Vincent Van Gogh.


And the book was in all blue font!


And he introduced the characters by showing paintings of them by other famous painters.


And there were all manner of nude paintings.


But the plot itself unraveled with the speed of a sloth slogging through mud, and had I rated the book based on its first half, it would not have gotten four stars, despite all of the points above.

Halfway through, things changed. The comedy picked up, mostly in the dialogue of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. Lautrec was by far the most compelling and fun character in the novel, and the one who brought out the Christopher Moore of this book.

And like with a Dan Brown novel, I found myself Googling images, The Garden of Earthly Delights, the caves of L'Albi, the Bonfire of the Vanities. In other words, Moore made me want to see what he was describing. I was sucked in, and when that happens, you have to like the book.

Which I did.

Not your normal Christopher Moore, but a compelling read where you will take something from it and maybe gain an appreciation for the finest art ever.

And my copy is signed. It's okay to be jealous.

Profile Image for Regine.
83 reviews18 followers
July 6, 2012
Theoretically I should have fallen in love with this book. I love art. I love books. I really love 19th century French painters, I kill that category on Jeopardy. I also love Christopher Moore. So yes, this book should have got me straight through the heart.

Okay, the book was well researched. Yes Toulouse-Lautrec really was a womanizing, alcoholic dwarf, yes there really is a lot of mystery concerning Van Gogh's apparent suicide, and yes Gauguin did really have a thing for young Tahitian girls. With the ample supply of crazy, eccentric, 19th-century painters France had to offer, Moore could have made this a really exciting book. Instead it fell short.

Moore starts off really well by introducing us to Van Gogh in his dying moments. He is mysteriously shot by the "Colorman." Then about 200 penis jokes later, we find out that the mysterious Colorman, along with a time-traveling muse, have inspired countless works of art. The muse captivates a painter, sleeps with him, drives him insane, all for the sake of creating the perfect shade of ultramarine blue.For myself, this was the equivalent of sitting through the last Indiana Jones film, and going "what the fuck?" when the alien saucers came flying up. There was a lot of promise in the book, but over all, it just didn't deliver. Sacrebleu!

Also, what was with all the penis jokes? I think that Moore just copped out. I think he said," okay, so I know that this book isn't as funny as my other books...but if I say penis enough times, maybe my fans will love me just as much."

Bottom line is, eventually, even a good penis joke loses its funny.

2 stars. Didn't hate it. But I probably will never read it again.

Profile Image for Gabrielle.
977 reviews1,093 followers
April 2, 2017
Blue is my favorite color. I learned in this book that for a long time, it was the hardest to obtain, and therefore the most expensive pigment to make paint from. It was often used for sacred images, like the cloak of the Virgin Mary because that rich color was thought to have divine properties. Of course, Christopher Moore ran with that and created a world where Blue is a person, a magical creature who not only makes the precious pigment, but seduces and inspires artists - and has done so for thousands of years.

Lucien is the son of a Paris baker, and an enthusiastic but not especially talented painter. He is friends with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and many other illustrious Impressionists. One day, he learns that his friend Vincent Van Gogh died under mysterious circumstances, and together with Henri, he decides to find out exactly what happened to Vincent. But just as they begin their investigation, Lucien gets distracted by an old flame making an unexpected return into his life. Never before has he felt so inspired to paint, never before has his work been so good...

Yes, it's a Moore book, so there is a certain measure of low-brow humor: there is also an incredible amount of research about many artists and their work, with reproductions peppered through the book for those who are not huge art geeks. He does a great job of helping the reader understand not just the artwork but the context in which they were created, and how that impacts the way we think about those paintings. Moore blends history and fantasy very well and develops both fictional and historical characters very finely.

Not a perfect book: it drags a bit in some places and it not quite as smart as other Christopher Moore novels, but it's a wonderful rollicking adventure in the Montmartre of the cancan dancers and absinthe drinkers. I rated it 4 stars because while it was so much fun to read, it didn't move me the way "Lamb" or "A Dirty Job" did; it is still top notch Moore that any fan of his work will enjoy.
Profile Image for Wayne Schuster.
87 reviews2 followers
December 20, 2016
It's sad to read all of these negative reviews about this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought he did a very good job bringing the artists, their works, and their lives to light. No, it was not laugh out loud funny . The humor more subtle and the characters less over the top but still it was there for the finding. I think most of these reviewers are like the swarm of people I saw at the Louvre racing down the halls to see the Mona Lisa. Well not really seeing they were more interested in taking their picture with it than actually looking at it, just like they missed several Da ' Vinci's on the walls as they hurried to see just one. When an author tries to do something a bit different it always seems that fans turn on them. I remember watching the comedian Gallagher, a very funny guy whose humor far surpassed the smashing fruit gimmick that brought him into the limelight. He could no more not finish a show with it because his fans demanded it even though they knew it by heart. If he didn't do it they were disappointed in him and he looked increasingly more bored with the routine. I say keep pushing yourself Mr. Moore this book was as humorous as any and making us look for it is not a bad thing. Looking forward to your next one.
Profile Image for Kara Babcock.
1,891 reviews1,205 followers
August 9, 2012
Fans of Christopher Moore may be shocked by this book. Exclamations of “Sacré bleu!” followed by monocles popping out from eyes and spilled cups of tea are probably going to be the norm. For, you see, I enjoyed this book thoroughly. It was an excellent supernatural mystery set in Paris and involving great artists and their muses. But it is not very funny, or at least, it doesn’t have the same, non-stop humorous dialogue and description that I have come to expect from Moore.

I’m not sure I can do the plot justice. It’s a mystery, and a convoluted one at that. Sacré Bleu is really a chain of events surrounding the mysterious death of Vincent Van Gogh. Widely considered a suicide, Van Gogh dragged himself a mile from where he was painting to the house of his doctor—he had a chest wound, you see. In actuality, Van Gogh was shot by a mysterious fellow known only as the Colorman, an itinerant colour maker whose interest in artists is far from benign. When the Colorman starts sniffing around Paris, Van Gogh’s friend Henri Toulouse-Lautrec starts putting together some of the pieces of this mystery. Meanwhile, his friend Lucien Léssard is obsessed with painting the woman who broke his heart and then came back. And somehow, it all comes back to the true blue, ultramarine blue, the sacré bleu that started it all….

Despite not having the same laugh-out-loud dialogue that endeared me to Moore in Fool and Lamb , Sacré Bleu is still an eminently satisfying read. Indeed, my appreciation for Moore’s writing has actually increased now that I see he can turn his wit to a more subtle design when he desires. For make no mistake: Sacré Bleu is still hilarious, with plenty of moments of alternatively light-hearted and dark humour. Humour is embedded in the streets of Paris where most of the novel is set as well as in the artist characters who populate its pages. But there’s a darker, more sinister side to this story as well. It’s this dual nature of the narrative that really impressed me.

Sacré Bleu succeeds in part because Moore makes these famous artists alive. He designs personalities for them, extrapolated in part from the writings and stories and, of course, paintings that they left behind—and fabricated wholly, I’m guessing, when the need was there. I have no idea how accurately he portrays people like Renoir and Manet and Pissarro—working at an art gallery, unlike staying at a Holiday Inn, does not magically give you intimate knowledge of the Parisian art scene—and I don’t really care. What matters is that he makes these artists come alive. And as he points out in the afterword, the possibilities for a story set among artists in late nineteenth-century Paris are endless—there’s just so many cool famous people to rope into the chaos.

Moore wisely chooses to focus on a small core group. Lucien and Henri are the main movers and shakers in Sacré Bleu. Lucien becomes mixed up with Juliette, whom we soon learn is also involved with the Colorman. At first her role in his schemes is unclear—is she a willing accomplice or some kind of dupe? Later, we learn that the situation is far graver and more complicated than one might ever have suspected. As Lucien paints her, he starts ignoring his other responsibilities at the family bakery, and it’s up to his friend Henri to intercede and get to the bottom of the mystery of the Colorman. Of course, sometimes Henri gets distracted—it is Paris after all….

Moore takes his time unspooling the mystery of the Colorman in front of us. He stintingly makes use of flashback, preferring instead to jump once in a while and follow Juliette and the Colorman directly before returning to Henri and Lucien. Through these conversations, he challenges the reader to theorize on the nature of the Colorman, of his relationship to sacré bleu, of his designs on these artists. And throughout the story there is a constant, unshakeable feeling that there is something supernatural going on here, something otherworldly about the Colorman (I kept picturing Toby Jones’ portrayal of the Dream Lord in season 5 of Doctor Who). Yet just when I was convinced the Colorman was something out of fairy, he would go ahead and say or do something that seemed so utterly banal, mundane, and human that I would wonder if I was right after all. Moore keeps me guessing, going around in circles, uncovering bits and pieces of the truth but not quite the whole story—not, of course, until the end.

I wasn’t frustrated at all, though, because I was having a lot of fun along the way. Sacré Bleu isn’t just a mystery about artists—it’s a mystery about, and a discussion of, art itself. It’s a truism that artists suffer—must suffer—for their art, that it is this suffering that somehow allows them to create such masterpieces. Moore takes this idea and examines it from several different angles, teasing out its various formulations and implications. Similarly, the artists talk about light, and line, and form, about colour and technique. I suspect my friends who have studied art or art history would enjoy this book, but no special knowledge of those areas is required. Indeed, Sacré Bleu is a kind of layman’s guide to the painter’s zeitgeist of Paris circa 1890.

And beneath it all there lies a sombre undercurrent, a dark tone to the narrative. Whether or not Van Gogh killed himself or was murdered, he was a disturbed man (eating paint will do that to you). All those artists dying of syphillis. And, of course, the resolution to the mystery of the Colorman, the nature of Juliette and Lucien’s own unique kind of sacrifice, all speak to the muddled nature of human existence. From the good comes the bad, from the bad comes the exquisite. We are all inextricably bound together and wrapped up into a complicated web of truth and lies and everything in between—and nothing evinces that more than great art.

So I’m going to give Sacré Bleu five stars. Here’s why. First, it has a well-realized historical setting, with plenty of fascinating famous characters saying scandalous things (Renoir likes big butts and he cannot lie). Second, it has an excellent historical mystery with just the right hint of the supernatural. Third, Moore puts his characters in real danger and has them make some important choices. Fourth, even with all that gravity, Moore still manages to find time to remind us that this is a comedy—and yeah, it has a happy ending.

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Profile Image for *The Angry Reader*.
1,350 reviews293 followers
August 22, 2020
I spent the beginning of this book angry and confused. It was funny, but it was also sad and frustrating. The issue, it became abundantly clear, is that it was taking the book far too literally.

And there became a point when I decided to quit reading it. I let it lie for the night, and the next afternoon when I read a few more pages the book was funny and tongue-in-cheek, as intended.

I love what I learned. Lots of Wikipedia because I didn’t know much or anything about these artists. I was never bored. And I was quite happy when I stopped taking the thing seriously.

It is a brilliant adorable book.

Profile Image for Nancy Oakes.
1,914 reviews703 followers
May 29, 2012
Wm. Morrow, 2012
403 pp
(hardcover ed.)

You might recognize the title of this book as one of those mild French oaths that are up there on par with such others as Mon Dieu! or Zut alors!, but in this book Sacré Bleu is the name of a deep blue, ultramarine paint most closely associated with the Virgin Mary. But after you've finished the novel, "Sacré Bleu!" as an expression for describing how you feel after what you've just read isn't so far off the mark. While Sacré Bleu (the novel) has its own quirkiness and its own original feel; if you didn't know who wrote it, it wouldn't be long before you realize that this twisty-odd writing style could only belong to Christopher Moore. There were three reasons I bought this book: 1) it's another novel by Christopher Moore; 2) it takes place within the Paris/Montmartre art world of the 1890s; and 3) one of the main characters is Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. For those three reasons, I reasoned that it had to be a book of witty craziness, and I wasn't wrong. What I didn't expect is an upended and off-kilter history of Impressionist art to go along with all of the rest of Moore's whimsical zaniness. If you don't have a sense of humor, pass this one by; if you do, and you also happen to enjoy art, you might want to give it a go.

The book begins with the murder of Vincent van Gogh. Okay, we all know that in real life he killed himself, but remember, this is Christopher Moore's version of events. His murderer is known only as the Colorman, who threatens van Gogh with "no more blue," unless he reveals what he did with a picture he'd painted. The artist refuses to comply and he's shot. van Gogh makes his way to his doctor; the next day he begs brother Theo to hide a painting, "the blue one" from the little man. From there, the story goes to Paris in 1890, to a baker's son named Lucien Lessard, a friend of artist Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. The two soon begin to wonder how it is that a man who shoots himself trying to commit suicide would walk nearly a mile to get help, and think it's a matter worth looking into. Lucien, however, gets a little sidetracked. His father, who had fed the proverbial "starving artists" with bread from his bakery, had always hoped his son would be a painter, and Lucien, who studied painting under some of these Impressionist painters, becomes more inspired to greatness when he is reacquainted with a beautiful woman named Juliette who begs him to paint her. Both Juliette and finishing the painting become Lucien's obsession, much to Lucien's detriment. As he begins to regain his senses, he and Toulouse-Lautrec continue their quest to discover the truth behind van Gogh's death. Part of their search involves visiting several painters who all share a similar story involving the Colorman, a beautiful woman, and a most extraordinary shade of blue paint.

Surrounding the mystery of the Colorman and van Gogh's death are some delightful moments of oddity in a world that only Christopher Moore could produce. Among other delights that often range into the supernatural, there are a few "interludes" that make up part of Moore's tribute to the color blue, beautiful but humorously-captioned color reproductions of paintings by artists who are characters in this book; there's Paris, Montmartre and the art scene, brothels and hangouts of the era; trips back and forth through time, and of course, humor that ranges from stupid penis jokes and a lot of bonking references to a professor who is trying to teach his rats to re-enact the chariot-race scene from Ben Hur. Crazily ambitious, and just crazy in general, Sacré Bleu is like a history of Impressionist art turned on its ear -- most of all it's a lot of fun. The characters inhabiting this novel include (of course) Impressionist painters like Renoir, Pissarro, Monet, Degas, Manet and others; post-Impressionists also have their parts to play, and there's even a scene with Michelangelo as he's beginning his David. You don't have to know who these people are to appreciate the book, nor do you need to be familiar with their art. The characters don't always necessarily engage in the argot of the time. Instead, Moore has them using more modern parlance -- sometimes to the point where you think you're reading about little boys who haven't made it past the toilet humor and sex jokes stage. While that sort of humor isn't necessarily side-splittingly funny (and sometimes it gets really old), you really can't help but laugh.

It is a bit slow-going in a few places, and some scenes are repetitive (especially the sex-oriented and goofy penis jokes), but when all is said and done, it's a lot of just plain fun. The mystery at the novel's core will keep you turning pages, as will the characters and the action surrounding them. And in answer to Moore's "worry" expressed in the afterword about ruining art for everyone, no way -- reading this book might just lead to more of an interest in Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art!

Definitely recommended, perhaps not for everyone, but people who enjoy Moore's books should not miss this one.
Profile Image for Madeleine.
Author 2 books846 followers
April 13, 2012
I used to know a lot about art.

Since my oh-so-understanding parents never saw the value in letting me take art lessons as a kid (but, gosh, did I ever learn a lot from five years of having softball forced on me, letmetellyousomething), my education was chock-full of all the art electives I could get my hands on. I even added a fine-arts minor to my collegiate studies, which really meant that I stuffed my five-pound schedule with ten pounds of art-history classes. As much as I love art and talking about it, I don't have many opportunities to flex my art-education muscles nowadays, so I'd assumed that I'd forgotten a lot more than I'd retained.

But maybe I ought to give my memory more props because the art jokes that Christopher Moore liberally sprinkled throughout "Sacre Bleu" made one of my favorite author's newest offering even more hilarious than any story with an impressive body count has any right to be. Or maybe my rusty recall was beneficial in that I wasn't getting all offended by Moore's creative liberties? Either way, gems like "Hey, Whistler, how's you mother?" and a chapter titled "The Last Seurat" had me trying to hide my snorts of laughter, lest my coworkers wonder if my brand of crazy is as harmless as it appears.

One of my favorite things about Moore is his ability to combine lowbrow humor with high-level thinking. His novels are peppered with profanity and penises, which is understandably off-putting to people who don't embrace the joys of crassness as warmly as I do. His writing has gotten a little less zany and a little more focused (but no less original) over the years; the restraint and subtlety he exercised in books like "Lamb" and "Fool" is not unlike the approach he takes with this novel. There isn't an unnecessary detail to be found here: Every seemingly insignificant detail ties into something bigger later, every joke is either another art allusion or some well-camouflaged misdirection.

Moore respects his subjects when they have some real-life inspiration (be it reality itself or reality as it relates to the Shakespearean canon). In this case, it manifests itself with a pretty solid (if not well-researched) understanding of the 1890s art world and the parade of personalities populating it.

I just wish van Gogh was as much of a presence as the synopsis made it seem like he'd be. He was an interesting cat.

Bonus fun fact: This is the second book I've read this year that typo'd "pastries" into "pasties." Take from that what you will.
Profile Image for Alena.
836 reviews217 followers
August 29, 2012
Having never read a book by Christopher Moore, I hardly knew what to expect beyond “irreverent” and “witty” – the two words that pop up consistently in Goodreads reviews of his work. When I was searching for my first adult audio book, those were just the words that appealed to me. I only have 20 minutes each way, so I needed a story that would hold my attention, something I could stop and start and nothing too heavy. Christopher Moore seemed to fit the bill and Sacre Bleu was on the shelf at the library so I went for it.

Success all around.

I am sure the other west suburban commuters thought I was loony. I was literally slapping my knee laughing out loud during portions of this book – which must have made for an odd sight at stop lights. Moore is smart-assed hilarious, definitely irreverent, and sometimes brilliant.

“The Painting is not shit,’ said Lucien.
‘I know,’ said Henri. ‘That was just part of the subterfuge. I am of royal lineage; subterfuge is one of the many talents we carry in our blood, along with guile and hemophilia.”

He reimagines art history in 19th century Paris, mixing together all the masters of the time, and traveling back far enough to throw in Michelangelo as well. The cast of characters is at once familiar (van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet) and unusual (each intimately connected to the next). The plot centers around a murder/suicide, a mysterious color man, the enchanting Juliet and a baker/painter named Lucien. Throw in some politics, magic, curious inventions, cave paintings and whores and you get a mess of book that delighted me just the same.

To be honest, I didn’t really care about the plot per se. It is far-fetched to say the least and involves ancient witchcraft, impressionist painters and more suspension of disbelief than I’m used to granting, but, in the end, none of that mattered. I was taken in by Moore’s language and satire. For all the bouts of uproarious laughter, he scratched at deeper truths and several times I wished to stop the CD and write down passages.

“They are between. Not what they used to be, and not what they have become. In those times, they are nothing. And I am invisible, and I am nothing too. That is the true demimonde, Lucien, and the secret is, it is not always desperate and dark. Sometimes it is just nothing. No burden of potential or regret. There are worse things than being nothing, my friend.”

I am officially now a fan of Christopher Moore, and audio books.
Profile Image for Pat.
415 reviews94 followers
November 27, 2017
Sacrebleu! Si fa presto a dire Blu.
Ma se diciamo “sacré bleu”, la storia cambia. Oh, se cambia!
Il sacro è il blu più bello e prezioso, si ottiene dalla polvere del lapislazzulo. Salpa dall’Oriente e approda in Occidente. Eccolo, è il blu oltremare. Il sacré bleu.
E dal sacro pigmento prendono vita la Parigi di fine Ottocento e i suoi più grandi impressionisti. Lucien Lessard, fornaio aspirante pittore, ha una musa bellissima e misteriosa. Juliette.  Ambiguo e oscuro è il Colorista che l’accompagna. Hanno poteri prodigiosi e inquietanti. Nel vortice di colori, vapori d’alcol e odori di bordello si districano e s’arruffano oscure trame: la morte di Van Gogh e un succedersi d’incomprensibili avvenimenti. Che il blu oltremare ne sia responsabile?
È un romanzo blu. Blu di mistero. Blu di storia. Blu d’arte. Blu d’ironia. Blu d’amore. E blu di follia.
Ha ragione Christopher: il blu è inafferrabile. Provate a catturare il colore del cielo, a raccogliere il blu del mare.
“Il blu è astuto, sornione, sguscia nella stanza di sbieco, è subdolo e scaltro.
Questa storia parla del colore blu, e al pari del blu non vi è niente di vero. Blu è la bellezza, non la verità. In inglese si dice true blue, ma è un giochetto, una rima: ora c'è, ora non più. È un colore profondamente ambiguo, il blu”.

Appunto. Si fa presto a dire Blu.
Ci sei riuscito Moore! Sarà perché mi perdo nel blu oltremare. Sarà perché hai intrecciato con abilità storia e sogno, mistero e ironia. Sarà perché la tua antipatia per Degas uomo m’ha invogliata a conoscerlo al di là della sua arte. Sarà per tutto questo e per altro ancora.  Ho un appuntamento con Renoir, Sisley, Monet, Pissarro, Gauguin e ti porterò con me. Guarderemo insieme l’ambiguo blu con le sue infinite sfumature, cercheremo l’oltremare là, sulle tele. Faremo un viaggio nello spazio e nel tempo. L’hanno fatto loro. Possiamo farlo anche noi. Sacrebleu!
P.S. Bellissima e appassionata la postfazione.
Profile Image for Leah Craig.
119 reviews61 followers
September 14, 2018
I started this book, got halfway through, lost it, was heartbroken, put a hold in @ my library, which took forever and still hadn’t arrived to me, and then found it in my car yesterday and finished it in like, 2 hours. Best day ever!

This is absolutely my favorite Christopher Moore book I’ve ever read, and I’ve read quite a few (my previous favorite was Fool! Also super good). It’s brilliantly satirical, historically rich, and simply roll on the floor hilarious. The characters are so fun and endearing, I am so nuts over Henri. I loved how the pieces of art were sprinkled into the story, the captions are hysterical. I really just adore this author so much, and anyone who loves humor novels has no excuse to sleep on him!
Profile Image for Skip.
3,223 reviews394 followers
July 22, 2012
Give Moore top marks for creativity as he weaves a story around a muse who inspires the Impressionsists, with a young baker-painter and bon vivant Henri Toulouse-Lautrec as the main characters in a farcical romp. My favorite lines are an exchange between these two as they enter the Catacombs in Paris: T-L "it follows the streets as if on the surface" Lucien "Yes, but with fewer cafes, more corpses and it's dark, of course" T-L "Oh well then, we'll just pretend we're visiting London" :-)
Profile Image for Cassie-la.
523 reviews63 followers
June 15, 2012
REVIEW ALSO ON: http://bibliomantics.com/2012/05/18/a......

Some books cannot be read on an eReader (at least not a black and white eReader), but require full physical immersion, this being one of them. With a focus on art and the color blue, the aesthetic choice was to make all the book’s text blue. Chapter titles, numbers, heading, page numbers, and even the prose are all in shades of blue. Think taking House of Leaves to the next level. The cover is also done in shades of blue to represent the theme (I have included an uncovered less “scandalous” version of this later in the review). There are also paintings scattered throughout that inform the text, but more on that in another section. For now I’ll discuss the plot without giving too many of the surprises away.

Sacré Blue is ultimately although not completely centered around the strange suicide of Vincent Van Gogh, who shot himself in the chest in the middle of a field and then walked to a doctor’s house where he died. And you thought the ear thing was the weirdest stunt he ever pulled- don’t worry, that comes up too. While not focused entirely on Van Gogh’s death, it covers the Impressionist painters (and Post-Impressionists) who stumble on the inner workings behind his death, which if you think about it, is an awfully bizarre way to commit suicide. It was this mystery that took off in Christopher Moore’s imagination and created this novel, his most ambitious and unique yet. Although I might still love A Dirty Job just a little more. It was my gateway book into Moore’s insane wacky worldview and has a special place in my heart.

Since this is a novel written around some real life history, Paris from 1863 to 1891, it’s peppered with famous painters, models, and writers. Vincent and Theo van Gogh, Renoir, Cézanne, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Manet, Monet, Seurat, Gauguin, Berthe Morisot, Whistler, and Pissarro are just some of the recurring figures in the narrative as it travels back and force across time. There’s even an appearance of Oscar Wilde himself. His cameo is particularly fun so I won’t give away how he ties into all this. Just like you can’t go wrong with including Lord Byron in your text, the same goes for Oscar Wilde in my mind.

As Moore explains in his afterward, he initially started off with the intent to write a book about blue (sacred blue/ultramarine blue), an overarching theme which surprisingly didn’t get away from him. He based all the artists’ personalities on diary entries and other sources from people who knew them, which is greatly appreciated. It’s always difficult to read historical fiction- even very fictionalized historical fiction like this novel- and not get attached to the characters. To find out they were invented by the author (which I thankfully knew was true of Lucien Lessard ahead of time) or that their personas were altered, ruins our perception of them. Moore did a fabulous job working around this problem with copious research. You will fall in love with these characters, contemplating whether to invent a time machine just to visit them.

Of course that’s not to say there weren’t fictional characters, those based off real life people or inventions in Sacré Bleu. For example, the eccentric Les Professeurs was inspired by someone from Renoir’s writing who trained rats and mice to perform chariot-race scenes from Ben-Hur like his fictional counterpart. Despite this, a lot of the novel was inspired by real life events, those revolving around the sacred blue notwithstanding. Most of these in particular are the stories about art, which made the inclusion of artwork interwoven into the narrative much less forced than in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Since they function for you to see which art is being discussed/given a back story rather than to inform the narrative, it works a lot better in this instance. If you recognize the art already, even better.

Continuing with what makes this book so unique is the use of interludes scattered throughout the story, which are about art and the color blue. In them you will learn how nudes in art work (hint: boobies), that the Virgin Mary’s cloak was decreed by the church to be painted in ultramarine (a color that was more expensive than gold) called sacré bleu or sacred blue, among other things. They’re a nice, fun break from the narrative and occasionally Moore puts a lot of his humorous writing style (those not dedicated to Henri) into these sections.

Another strength of Moore’s is his ability to create amazingly vivid characters. First and foremost are Lucien, Juliette, and the Colorman, the three invented main characters. They are really brought to life, and Moore is able to weave back and forth through time in the narrative without confusing the reader. The Colorman and Juliette are surrounded with the most intrigue and mystery, and Lucien’s relationship with Henri Toulouse-Lautrec is adorable. Henri provides just the right amount of comic relief, adding rather than detracting from the narrative with his antics. Moore’s humor shines particularly bright through womanizing lush Henri.
Profile Image for Barbara (The Bibliophage).
1,083 reviews147 followers
February 4, 2019
Christopher Moore is a master of the humor-filled, historical fiction with a fantasy twist novel. How’s that for a sub-genre? Sacré Bleu was my favorite read this January. BTW, you should know that the French expression “sacrebleu” is used to convey surprise, exasperation, or dismay. I was indeed surprised by how much I loved this book!

Moore takes a fictional young painter, Lucien Lessard and places him smack in the midst of a group of famous late-nineteenth century painters. After the painter Vincent Van Gogh is ends his life (or did he?), Lucien and his wingman Henri Toulouse-Lautrec try to solve the mystery. In the process, they learn quite a lot about a special color blue and also what it really means to have a muse.

Lucien is also the son in a bakery-owning family, so he’s got responsibilities. Henri, on the other hand, is a cad, heavy drinker, and man about town. They are the perfect foils for each other. Their interactions, and most especially Henri’s attitudes made me laugh over and over. Since I listened to the audiobook, I’ll admit my husband thought I was a loon.

My conclusions
There are so many fantastical plot points in this novel that staying spoiler-free is a challenge. But here’s what I loved.

First, Moore not only references real works of art, he includes them in the book. Now, they’re printed on matte paper so the quality is reduced. But the idea is fabulous and adds so much to the story telling. As much as I adored the audio narration by Euan Morton, I’d encourage you to track down a print copy of Sacré Bleu. It’s wonderful!

Second, Lucien and Henri travel all over Paris, even heading to Giverny and a few other distant locales. Without ever turning the book into a travelogue, Moore takes us to many enchanting places people dream about in France.

Third, Moore encourages you to be smart while you laugh. He adds philosophy and world history to his art history and color theory theme. But it never becomes overwhelming or dull. These are the best things about historical fiction. And who knew it could be so charmingly hysterical in the meantime?

I’m not a Christopher Moore connoisseur, but I may just become one after this book.

For more historical fiction or fantasy book reviews, please visit my blog, TheBibliophage.com.
Profile Image for Helen.
172 reviews1 follower
April 6, 2012
Usually it takes me only a few hours to finish one of his novels; this one took two days. The plot was all over the place, the jokes were meh, and the use of blue was entirely overwrought in every sense of the word. I didn't really care for the characters all that much either. They didn't have a quarter of the liveliness as others found in any number of Moore's novels.

Moore included an afterword where he writes, "I know what you're thinking: 'Thanks loads, Chris, now you've ruined art for everyone.'" That's not what bothered me about this story. I like historical fiction and I like art. So naturally I've read historical fiction about long dead artists and their muses/models. But this particular story, with it's obsession for true Blue, was just so disappointing. I was bored more than I was intrigued. And it was fairly easy to see where this story was going anyway. That said, there were a few parts that I enjoyed, but I wish I hadn't bought this book, which is probably the only reason I finished reading it. I was about 80% finished with the book, when I realized I could have put it down and never picked it back up again. But damn it, I'd already purchased it! I hate to give it two stars, because I genuinely enjoyed his other books, but even if I'd checked this out of a library, I don't think I would have liked it all that much more anyway.
Profile Image for Katerina.
792 reviews668 followers
February 22, 2020
“Lucien held his demitasse of espresso aloft and toasted his friend, who cringed at the sound of the cups clicking.
“But I like brothels. My friends are there.”
“They aren’t your friends.”
“Yes they are, they like me just as I am.”
“Because you pay them.”
“No, because I’m charming. Besides, I pay all of my friends.”
“No you don’t. You don’t pay me.”
“I’m going to buy breakfast. On my account. Besides, I only pay them for the sex, the friendship is free.”
“Don’t you worry about syphilis?”
“Syphilis is a wives’ tale.”
“It is not. You get a chancre on your manhood, then later you go mad, your limbs drop off, and you die. Manet died of syphilis.”
“Nonsense. Syphilis is a myth. It’s Greek, I think—everyone has heard of the myth of syphilis.”
“That’s the myth of Sisyphus. He spends his whole life pushing a large stone up a hill.”
“With his penis? No wonder he has a chancre on it!”
“No, that’s not the story.”
“So you say. Shall I order more coffee?”
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