After a brief encounter with the Colorman, Vincent Van Gogh is fatally shot dead in Auvers, France. Meanwhile, as the news makes its way through the Parisian artist network, Vincent’s close friends, Lucien Lessard and Henri-Toulouse Lautrec, must solve a series of mysteries regarding the Lessard’s newly returned love, Julliett and the ultramarine shade of blue the Colorman sells to the Impressionists, at a steep and dangerous cost to the artist and their families.
For anyone familiar with Christopher’s Moore’s wit, sarcasm and often inappropriate humor, this book might come across as completely alien. The book itself felt longer than necessary, and was not laugh out of funny, as Moore’s previous books have been. It’s not a serious book, but it is thoughtful and Moore went above and beyond in researching the era, the artists, their works and their personalities for this book. I applaud the level of attention and seriousness he devoted to those elements of the book. I studied art in college, and the Impressionists are my favorite group of artists from France, so I really appreciated and loved the attention to detail Moore gave to the artwork. There is also the added bonus of colored prints of various art throughout the book.
Despite some of my criticisms, I very much enjoyed this book. I think I might have been less critical if I had read it over a longer span of time, rather than getting through the entire book in 2 days. I definitely list Moore in my top 3 favorite authors, after Neil Gaiman & Cecelia Ahern.
One of the drawbacks of this book was the dialogue and characters. They felt repetitive with the same stale jokes running through the novel. Also, it felt like Moore took modern language and just placed in a historical novel, adding an odd element and disrupting the pace of the book. It was somewhat awkward but still interesting to see his seriousness in the descriptions, but then skip to the childlike humor in the dialogue. I wonder if this is Moore evolving as an author? Maybe stepping away from the sex and poop jokes? Either way, I’m intrigued to see what he will write next. The ending did not wrap up fast enough for me, it felt like there was just too much to say about Bleu, and too many avenues to explore of her influence on artists throughout time. Sacre Bleu is probably not the best introduction to Moore’s inappropriate and off-beat comedy, but it does highlight his way with words and the level of research he puts into his books.
Other things to do while you wait for this book:
- Listen to his Interview with NPR
- Plan a visit to the Musee d’Orsay in Paris to see the Impressionist gallery!
- Plan a visit to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam! When I went last year, there was a special exhibit featuring the work of Henri Toulouse Lautrec. It was beyond awesome to see his original posters and prints.
- Go to the Legion of Honor in San Francisco to see artwork from the Belle Epoque era.
- Go see Christopher Moore at Keplers April 24th!
- Read my reviews of other Christopher Moore Books!