I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
I love a good piece of historical fiction and I found that in CLAUDE AND CAMILLE. This book follows the tumultuous marriage of Claude Monet and his first wife Camille. It also gives the reader a glimpse into the origins of the Impressionist movement. The book begins with Claude as a young man who spends his days drawing caricatures. He is inspired by an older painter to try his hand at oil painting "en plein air" and it changes his life forever. Claude struggles along with his fellow artists to make a living and have their work recognized. As he seeks to find an outlet for his work, he falls in love with his muse, Camille. The two of them struggle through financial hardships and Camille's mental illness to try and make a life for themselves. It is a tale that is both heartwrenching and moving.
I minored in Art History in college and this book made the work of the early Impressionists come alive for me. I loved how Cowell referenced specific works by the artists and included a list of those works at the end of the novel so the reader could seek them out. The story is so sad and made me think about how we often take for granted the sacrifices that many artists make for their art. It was a very compelling and moving tale.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. Fans of historical fiction and art will find much to like here. Once Claude moves to Paris, I was really drawn into the tale and had a hard time putting it down. Very well done.