Title: Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet
Author: Stephanie Cowell
Release Date: April 6, 2010
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Before he became the well-known and masterful painter that he’s regarded as today, Claude Monet was a young, poor man who struggled every day to sell his paintings. Claude and Camille focuses on this young man, looking at the early years of his life and his relationship with his love and muse, Camille Doncieux.
I don’t know much about the birth of Impressionism, though I absolutely adore the paintings that came out of the era. Pissaro, Manet, Monet – these men are considered giants in the art world. I knew that Impressionism wasn’t well-regarded when it first evolved, but I was really curious to know more about one of my favorite styles of painting. It’s one of the reasons I enjoyed Claude and Camille so much – not only was it a touching, if tragic, love story, but it also gave a lot of interesting historical information about a period I don’t know a lot about.
Claude was certainly an interesting character, but it was Camille that really drew my attention. She was so changeable and difficult to predict. She likely suffered from severe bouts of depression, and as a result, it was difficult to get to know her. Cowell did an excellent job portraying this complicated woman. Even now, after the book has ended, I’m thinking of her and the mystery she presented to the reader.
I appreciated how Cowell portrayed Claude Monet as arrogant, yet vulnerable to the deepest despair. There’s no doubt that he is completely sincere in his love for Camille, yet his inability to provide for her eats away at him, wounding him to the core. It’s interesting to see the depths of the passion in this man and how they fuel his work.
I really enjoyed Claude and Camille. I’ve loved Monet’s paintings ever since I was a little girl and am glad that I now know more about him. After reading the book, I’m eager to visit museums and see his paintings once again, especially the ones that were produced out of his love for Camille.