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Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi
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Black Water Lilies

by Michel Bussi

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English (6)  French (5)  All (11)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
old woman recounting her past. Monet, Fanette, stéphanie ( )
  keithgordonvernon | Aug 19, 2017 |
Three women are linked by death in the village of Giverny. The embittered widow sees all, the beautiful teacher is locked in marriage to an obsessive husband and the talented schoolgirl looks for an escape. Giverny is the village famous for the work of Monet and other Impressionists but it is a small village with secrets and a history of unsolved deaths. When a rich doctor is murdered suspicion falls on those linked to his many mistresses and a newly appoint police inspector has to investigate.

Bussi's first novel translated into English (After The Crash) was an interesting take on the usual and this book is even more impressive. For most of the book it follows the lines of a standard police procedural, albeit a very good one. Then suddenly there is a seismic shift - if you read carefully the clues are all there, and if you are someone who knows about the history of Giverny then that will help - it caught me out. This lifted the story from being a good book in a certain genre to being something special. A love of art and literature pervades the book and the translation is excellent. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
I forced myself to finish this and I hadn't worked out the ending, but even that didn't really redeem it for me. I struggled with the Frenchness?/whimsey of the police investigation and seriously disliked Laurenc. The Monet bits were mildly interesting. ( )
  pgchuis | Jun 14, 2017 |
Michel Bussi’s novel is a mixture of modern murder mystery and potted biography of Claude Monet along with an appreciation of his art (and in particular the series of painting of water lilies for which he is most famous). Set in Monet’s home village of Giverny, the novel opens with the discovery of a corpse that has been stabbed, then battered with a heavy rack and then plunged into the river as if to make absolutely sure.

The story alternatives between a first-person narrative from an old woman who is free to observe the comings and goings of the villagers while remaining largely unnoticed, and an omniscient author’s description of the police investigation into the murder, which is led by Inspector Laurenç Sérénac, a newcomer to the area who had previously lived in the deep south of France. A further narrative focuses on Fanette, a young girl who attends the local school in Giverny, and who is very gifted.

The murder victim had a reputation as a ladies’ man and the police identify this as the most probably cause of the murder. Shortly afterwards Sérénac receives a package, from an unknown sender, which contains photographs of the victim with several different women. Sérénac identifies one of these women as the local school teacher, and goers to interview her. She is beguilingly beautiful, and Sérénac falls utterly under her spell.

Meanwhile the investigation continues, described against a backdrop of Monet’s paintings. Bussi takes the opportunity to educate the reader about Monet’s life and art, though this is never obtrusive. It does, however, add to the hypnotic atmosphere.

I bought in to this novel completely, all the way until the last twenty or thirty pages. I was, though, unconvinced by the ending which I found too contrived. Judging by the critics’ comments quoted on the cover, I seem to have been in a minority of one in that regard. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Mar 27, 2017 |
I was absolutely gobsmacked by the ending of this book. Nothing had prepared me for the way the author had played with various time frames, and with my mind. Initially I was left feeling that perhaps I hadn't read it carefully enough. But then as I looked back over the pages I could see how he had done it.

We see most of the book's action through the eyes of an elderly woman, a recluse who lives in the water mill next to stream that runs through Monet's Garden. She lives on the 4th floor, a vantage point that allows her to observe most of what goes on in the small village. Nothing escapes her attention it seems.

We are so taken up with the investigation into the death of Jerome Morval and the possibility of a lost Monet painting that we don't recognise the signs that our path meanders. I wonder if the author has played fair with the reader? What strikes at the end though is that the novel is itself a tribute to impressionism. ( )
  smik | Mar 14, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michel Bussiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Whiteside, ShaunTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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« Avec Monet, nous ne voyons pas le monde réel, mais nous en saisissons les apparences. »
F. Robert-Kempf, L'Aurore,1908

« Non! Non! Pas de noir pour Monet, voyons! Le noir n'est pas une couleur! »
Georges Clémenceau, au pied du cercueil de Claude Monet
(Michel de Decker, Claude Monet, 2009)
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À la mémoire de Jacky Lucas
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Trois femmes vivaient dans un village.
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Book description
GIVERNY. DURING THE DAY, tourists flock to the former home of the famous artist Claude Monet and the gardens where he painted his Water Lilies. But when silence returns, there is a darker side to the peaceful French village.

THIS IS THE STORY of thirteen days that begin with one murder and end with another. Jérôme Morval, a man whose passion for art was matched only by his passion for women, has been found dead in the stream that runs through the gardens. In his pocket is a postcard of Monet's Water Lilies with the words: Eleven years old. Happy Birthday.

ENTANGLED IN THE MYSTERY are three women: a young painting prodigy, the seductive village schoolteacher and an old widow who watches over the village from a mill by the stream. All three of them share a secret. But what do they know about the discovery of Jérôme Morval's corpse? And what is the connection to the mysterious, rumoured painting of Black Water Lilies?

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