Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Review & Giveaway: Claude & Camille, A Novel of Monet by Stephanie Cowell

"Sometimes he dreamt he held her; that he would turn in bed and she would be there. But she was gone, and he was old...."

This is one of the most powerful lines in this novel, and one of my favorites, right at the beginning, as an elderly Claude Monet remembers his first wife, his love, his muse, the beautiful but fragile Camille.

They met when he was a young painter, impoverished, full of hope and dreams and possessing fantastic friends, who are also fellow artists. But Claude had no money and little support from the father who had expected his son to take over the family business.

Camille came from a sheltered and well off family who were appalled when she took up with an artist, lived with him and had a child before they were even married. Her family cut her off and Claude was never able to provide for her in the way that she was accustomed to, try as he might. And he did try, but his art was a harsh taskmaster and they gave up much so that he could devote his time and energy to painting.

Claude Monet, age 25 (oh boy, he DOES look like Johnny Depp!)

Claude's close circle of artist friends encompassed all those who would become known as the Impressionists: Aususte Renoir, Frederic Bazille, Camille Pissarro, Edouard Manet. They were all very close and this novel does a brilliant job of bringing them all to life, so you feel the comradeship, hunger, suffering and joy of their early days in Paris.

Camille Monet

Eventually, the strain of their haphazard existence began to tell on Camille, revealing tendencies toward depression and melancholy that had first appeared in her childhood. Though she and Claude truly loved each other, they struggle in their lives together. Again and again, they are saved by their caring friends.

The Monet Family, 1874, painted by Edouard Manet

This is a brilliant historical novel, clearly written by an author that has a deep appreciation and understanding of art in general and impressionism in particular. I know nothing at all about art but came away from this book with such admiration for those that can look at a scene and see the play of light and color...and be able to translate that to canvas. An utterly breathtaking book, I loved it and highly recommend it!

Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet is published by Crown, ISBN 978-0-307-46321-0

I have one copy available to give away. Winner will be drawn at random and must have a US or Canada mailing address. For one entry, just leave me a comment here. If you would like extra entries there are instructions below. Giveaway open through midnight eastern time on May 19th.

+2 Follow this blog any way you choose (Google, Feedburner, etc) and leave a comment...if you already do, include that in your comment
+2 Tweet or blog this giveaway and leave me a comment to let me know that you did

Good luck everyone, thank you for visiting and entering!


Carol said...

Monet is one of my mom's favorite artists. I would love to be entered. I'm a follower, too.

exodus said...

I love Monet!

feedburner subscriber.


LuAnn said...

I've been trying to win this book. Maybe this will be my lucky day!

reading_frenzy at yahoo dot com

Mystica said...

I would love to win this book! (like everyone else!!!) Please count me in and thank you for hosting.

I am a follower


Shannon said...

Thank you for the giveaway! I follow using Google. sliugarcia at gmail dot com

Jennifer said...

+2 I am indeed a follower and a rather happy one at that. :)

Thank you for this giveaway, I have been wanting to read Claude & Camille.

knittingmomof3 (AT) gmail (DOT) com

bermudaonion said...

As a fan of Monet's work, I think this book sounds fantastic.
I subscribe in Google Reader. milou2ster(at)

Unknown said...

I have heard great things about this book. I follow via google reader.
amandarwest at gmaildotcom

Zibilee said...

What a wonderful review! I am glad that you loved it so much, and would love the chance to read it as well! Please include me in your giveaway, and thanks for hosting it!!

I am also a follower of your blog via google reader.


Craftymoose Crafts said...

Monet is one of my favorite artists--I'd love to be entered!

+2 I'm a follower

Carol M said...

I also enjoy Monet's work and would love to read this book.

I subscribe in Google Reader.

mittens0831 at aol dot com

Rachel said...

I'm a follower! Thanks for the giveaway!

enyl said...

This will make an excellent addition to my classroom library.
+2 GFC follower.

Menagerie Soaps said...

I just became a new follower and I would love to enter your giveaway!

Thank you,


Pam said...

I would love to read this book. I've always found Monet's artwork to be calming.

+2 follower

melacan at hotmail dot com

Tina said...

I would love to win this one.

tbranco AT hughes DOT net

Tina said...

I'm a google follower

tbranco AT hughes DOT net

Tina said...

Your giveaway is posted on the sidebar of my blog: Tutu's Two Cents

tbranco At hughes DOT net

mrsshukra said...

Please count me in, I want to win this book!


mrsshukra said...

Google follower!


Margie said...

Please include me in the giveaway.

+2 blog follower via GFC
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, babe. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

Kristen said...

I would love to win this one!

whitreidsmama at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

I would LOVE to read this fabulous book...what a beautiful cover :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Luvdaylilies said...

Such a fabulous artist~I would love to learn more about the man with such amazing talent!
Thanks so very much=)
Luvdaylilies at bellsouth dot net

Luvdaylilies said...

+2 been a follower for a while=)
Luvdaylilies at bellsouth dot net

Luvdaylilies said...

I tweeted=)
Luvdaylilies at bellsouth dot net

Anita Yancey said...

Sounds like a very interesting book. I would love to read it. Please enter me. Thanks!


Anita Yancey said...

I follow on GFC and subscribe by Feedburner.


Caroline said...

This looks like a good read.


MarionG said...

I've always been fascinated by Monet's story. I've admired his pictures and would love to learn more about the painter.

I follow on GFC as MarionG.

Momma Told Me said...

I would love a chance, thanks!
six_one_nine_girlie86 (at) yahoo (dot) com

rubynreba said...

Please enter me.

+2 I am a follower.


CherylS22 said...

I'd love to read this book - please count me in! Thanks for the giveaway.

CherylS22 said...

GFC follower

CherylS22 said...

GFC follower

Linda Henderson said...

I do enjoy Monet's work. Please enter me.

I am a follower on Google.

seriousreader at live dot com

Sue said...

I'd love a chance! Thanks for the giveaway.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Marie Cloutier said...

I can't wait to read this one; it's been sitting on my TBR pile since ALA and I HAVE to get to it soon! :-)

Allie ~ Hist-Fic Chick said...

No need to enter me, as I already own an ARC and finished copy of the book (I loved it that much!). Just wanted to say this is a great review and I'm so glad you enjoyed it as much as I did!

bermudaonion said...

My copy of Claude & Camille came today. Thanks so much!

Linda said...

About a year ago I read Girl with a Pearl Earring, and realized that historical fiction related to art and artists is really fascinating. This book sounds great.

Unknown said...

Your description of the characters and their plight really draws you in. I would love to be be entered and have a chance to read what seems to be a wonderful book

Unknown said...

Your description of the characters and their plights really draws the reader in. I would love to have the opportunity to receive this book.

Benita said...

I love the artwork in the book. And you are right the first line is absolutely compelling. This promises to be a wonderful story with very well-developed characters.


Elise said...

I appreciate great art. It's nice that an artist like Monet will not only remain timeless in his art but also in this book that celebrates his life through the eyes of the author. The book sounds wonderful.
caliblue7 at gmail dot com

Sheila Deeth said...

I read and enjoyed Elizabeth Robards' With Violets, also about the French Impressionists. I think I'd enjoy this book too.

sdeeth at msn dot com

Historical Writer/Editor said...

Learning about these artists in an entertaining way would be very nice! I love historical fiction and write it myself. I find the added aspect of setting interesting as well. I was a French major in school. If you thought the book was well written, that's a bonus! -laura
L_Hogg at comcast dot net

Anonymous said...

I love Monet's work and didn't know about his wife or their relationship. Thanks for the review.
please enter me for the giveaway for the 7 books.


brokenteepee said...

Monet is one of my favorite artists so I know I would enjoy reading about the personal side of his life.
thank you

Anonymous said...

I recently read this book and really enjoyed it. I liked reading about the love shared between Claude and Camille, but I also enjoyed learning a little bit about all of the other artists he was friends with, too. As popular and valuable as his paintings are today, it is sad to think that he didn't really get the recognition he deserved in his lifetime.

rossjenc said...

Please consider my entry. Every city I visit I find the art museum and of course I aim to find the Monet paintings. A few weeks ago (on my honeymoon) I was very surprised to stumble upon one of his works at the Tate Modern in London. It was like a breath of fresh air.

Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.