Brittany's Reviews > Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet

Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell
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's review
Aug 01, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: fiction

I'm quite surprised by the glowing reviews this novel has received. Either I'm missing something, or I know too much. My intuition is telling me that this is again an instance when ignorance is bliss. If you begin this book thinking of waterlilies and pastels, I can see how it'd be pleasant. La di da, fine art, love story, struggling artist, burgeoning career, shades of violet... yeah. And I suppose if you're content with shallow happy things, you could leave it be. I however, am not one of those shiny happy people. Having spent too much time in dark rooms, studying slide after slide of paintings, and coming to the conclusion that artists hardly are so one-dimensional.
While I understand that it's impossible to keep a story such as Claude & Camille historically accurate with the lack of biographical information on the two; I don't understand why an author would take on such a project if they weren't willing to push the limits. For instance, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter takes fictionalized biography to a new level. Weaving through history, Grahame-Smith is still able to make an interesting and engaging story. Not so much the story for Stephanie Cowell. Instead it reads as if she was trying so hard to not piss off any of the Impressionists' estates that she punched out a bland love story not worthy of being published in hardcover. As a starving artist from an abusive household, frequently evicted, forced to flee during wartime, I can't accept that life for Claude and Camille was so simple. "I love you"s aren't so easily solicited during times of heightened stress, even less so once another woman moves into the household. This leads me to believe not only does Cowell not understand art, but anything about love as well.
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Reading Progress

August 1, 2011 – Shelved
August 9, 2011 – Started Reading
August 9, 2011 –
page 26
August 9, 2011 –
page 39
August 11, 2011 –
page 79
August 13, 2011 –
page 152
August 13, 2011 –
page 181
August 13, 2011 –
page 219
August 13, 2011 – Shelved as: fiction
August 13, 2011 – Finished Reading

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