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Day Of The Bees by Thomas Sanchez

Day Of The Bees (original 2000; edition 2001)

by Thomas Sanchez

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891135,585 (3.61)1
Title:Day Of The Bees
Authors:Thomas Sanchez
Info:Vintage Books / Random House (2001), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library, To read

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Day of the Bees by Thomas Sanchez (2000)



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Read in June 2001. Set in France during the Nazi occupation. This is a story of a painter and his mistress. It generated a lot of discussion. ( )
  EscapeBookClub | Aug 15, 2010 |
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For the three muses and A. Green
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Francisco Zermano is a great painter, one of the most innovative artists of all time.
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Book description
In this story of an astonishing love, Thomas Sanchez portrays the violence, hope, and grandeur of lives transformed by war and exile. ASt the heart of the novel are Zermano, a world-famous Spanish painter, and his beautiful French muse, Louise Collard-whose lives are torn apart by the German invasion of France in WWII. Leaving Louise in Vichy-controlled Provence, Zermano returns to occupied Paris. But while he eventually goes on the celebrity and fortune, Louise disappears into obscurity. Fifty years later, after Louise's death, an American scholar arrives in the south of France seeking the truth about the lovers' tempestuous romance and sudden separation. Why did the painter abandon the young beauty? What was the cause of her lifelong reclusiveness? What dark mysteries were being concealed by the ill-fated couple? By chance, the professor finds a cache of correspondence-Zermano's letters to Louise in her remote mountain village, and her intentionally unmailed letters to him in Paris. In their vivid, wrenching contents he uncovers secrets that Louise kept even from Zermano about her wartime experience: the dangers of her participation in the Resistance, and her complicity with one of its leaders, the Fly; her struggles to elude a sadistic officer who hunts her for political reasongs; her lyrical intimacy with a mystical beekeeper. Louise is forced to make a fateful decision between the love of her man and the ultimate sacrifice for her country.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 037570177X, Paperback)

The narrator of Thomas Sanchez's fourth novel teaches art history in America, but he dreams of Europe--or more specifically, of Spain. The Professor (as he identifies himself) specializes in a Spanish painter of the 1940s, Francisco Zermano, to whom he has devoted a spate of scholarly articles. He also spends hours staring at the man's paintings, trying to imagine the stories behind them. This iconographic detective is particularly curious about one bit of recurrent imagery: the body of a beautiful woman, which is rumored to belong to Louise Collard, the painter's muse.

As Day of the Bees opens, in fact, Louise has just died alone in a small provincial village, and the Professor rushes to France to learn more about her role in Zermano's life. There he finds a pile of correspondence--and a revelation. According to legend, the artist treated Louise cruelly and abandoned her. Yet the letters reveal a deep and doomed love, one which is forever shattered when Louise is raped by a platoon of enemy soldiers (whom she later describes in her letters as "bees," a wonderfully eerie motif). Zermano, already beaten with a tire iron, is forced to watch the entire event. Here Louise recalls how the rape ruined her life, and its paradoxical resemblance to the redemption of true erotic love:

I have discovered something unnerving--that a woman in sexual ecstasy with her man forgets all detail; when it's over she wants to return and explore this abyss that still makes her tremble. The same thing can happen when she is raped, but for a different reason. Where joy once deleted memory, horror now destroys it. In two acts in her life can a woman lose all consciousness: in the act of lovemaking, and in rape, its cruel parody.
After discovering Louise's letters, many of them never sent, the Professor embarks on a search for the aging Zermano, hoping to help set the record straight. In these chapters, the violent and tragic love story at the heart of Day of the Bees is nicely counterbalanced by an obsessive academic's comedy of errors. Like most of his kind, the narrator is late for trains, professorial to the bitter end, and devoted to (in every sense of the word) ghosts. --Emily White

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:30 -0400)

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An American academic, researching the life of the most famous artist of the century and the mystery of why and how he abandoned the passionate relationship with his muse and lover during the war, finds a cache of letters in the woman's house after her death.… (more)

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