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Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art (edition 2012)

by Christopher Moore

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944769,210 (3.74)75
Member:yrchmonger
Title:Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art
Authors:Christopher Moore
Info:William Morrow (2012), Hardcover, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:fiction, humor, satire, historical fiction, art

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Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d'Art by Christopher Moore

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Description: A rollicking tale that features special printed map endpapers and more than two dozen masterpieces of art throughout the book, Sacré Bleu is better than a day at the museum!

It is the color of the Virgin Mary's cloak, a dazzling pigment desired by artists, an exquisite hue infused with danger, adventure, and perhaps even the supernatural. It is . . .

Sacré Bleu

In July 1890, Vincent van Gogh went into a cornfield and shot himself. Or did he? Why would an artist at the height of his creative powers attempt to take his own life . . . and then walk a mile to a doctor's house for help? Who was the crooked little "color man" Vincent had claimed was stalking him across France? And why had the painter recently become deathly afraid of a certain shade of blue?

These are just a few of the questions confronting Vincent's friends—baker-turned-painter Lucien Lessard and bon vivant Henri Toulouse-Lautrec—who vow to discover the truth about van Gogh's untimely death. Their quest will lead them on a surreal odyssey and brothel-crawl deep into the art world of late nineteenth-century Paris.

A delectable confection of intrigue, passion, and art history—with cancan girls, baguettes, and fine French cognac thrown in for good measure—Sacré Bleu is another masterpiece of wit and wonder from the one, the only, Christopher Moore.

Thoughts: I really love Christopher Moore. His books are ALWAYS darkly hilarious and sometimes surprisingly moving. I love the oafish, irreverent charm of many of his heroes.

With Sacré Bleu, Moore has tapped into his more reserved and thoughtful side, something seen in his books Lamb and Fool. Reading the first several chapters, I was actually really surprised at the quality of the prose. I mean, Moore isn't a bad writer by any means, but I don't usually spend much time thinking about his prose. It's also really clear that Moore did his homework: the sheer number of artworks referenced (and images included in the text) and the familiarity with the artists lives and relationships is quite impressive. I actually learned a lot about painters and a time period I thought I knew fairly well.

As for the story itself, it's very creative and smart with plenty of Moore staples: an otherworldly being (the level of which hasn't been seen since Catch from Practical Demonkeeping), murder, and plenty of sex jokes. The way that Moore re-envisages the role of certain paintings and how they came to be is really fascinating. And, as usual, some of his characters are WONDERFUL! Henri Toulouse-Latrec is HILARIOUS and I totally wanted to hang out with him. Le Professuer (I and II) was great. Madame Lessard was spectacular. I could go on and on.

There was, to be fair, a little of a wobbly bit about 3/4 through the book where I got a bit lost and thought the story lost some of its charm. I think it pulled out of the slump fine, but can admit that the end wasn't as impressive as the beginning. Not bad by any means, just a little less awesome.

I can easily recommend this one to Moore fans and I think most people who appreciate dark humor or are interested in fantasy reimaginings of history should enjoy it too.

**Note: A word on the art shown in the book: It's not always easy to see details of the paintings in the small format, and looking at the art along with the reading was really important for me. My advice is to have a computer handy while reading and check out the Google Art Project as you go. Not all of the paintings are imaged yet, but it's a lot of fun and very informative to check out the ones that are, especially in the bits of the story where Moore is talking about color theory or painting techniques or relaying the (possible) history of the painting and it's models. For example, Manet's Luncheon on the Grass is discussed at length and there is an image in the book, but it's small and you can't get a great feel for it- you can hardly see the woman in the background at all. But, if you check it out here, you can blow it up, zoom in, and really get a good look. It's GREAT! Seeing the works of art as you read really does add a lot to the story.

http://www.librarything.com/topic/134084#3344283 ( )
  leahbird | Jan 13, 2015 |
Interesting. I'm sure better if you are a classic art lover. As always I enjoyed Moore's writing but didn't love this as much as I loved Fool and Serpent of Venice. ( )
  Lucifey | Jan 10, 2015 |
"Sacre Bleu" is very different from Moore's earlier books ("Bite Me," "Fool," "The Stupidest Angel," etc.). It is a more literary venture for him, and clearly required a fair amount of research on art history and painters, mostly Impressionists. The characters live, even the imaginary ones, and the book is, if not hilarious like his other books, still imbued with the writer's good nature and his fondness for absurdity. ( )
  NatalieSW | Jan 1, 2015 |
Rare sono le soddisfazioni superiori a quelle di leggere un romanzo di M. quando e' in forma, giocoso e intelligente. Poi, quando il romanzo migliora una pagina dopo l'altra non ci sono scuse: va preso e bevuto. Una Parigi spettacolare, un Toulouse-Lautrec spassoso e divertente, ipotesi splendide. Un unico suggerimento: le note del traduttore andrebbero secondo me lette per prime e non per ultime. Sempre sia lodata la divertenza (sic) di Moore. ( )
  bobparr | Dec 14, 2014 |
5 stars if I liked the ending more. I've always enjoyed Moore's stuff, it was light, zany humor with over the top ridiculous characters and situations. This was different. This was brilliant. It was REALLY funny but not constantly silly. There was more of a story here and better plot than the other novels. It showed a maturing author who has aged toward perfection.

I definitely suggest it on audio, the narrator was excellent. All those French names sounded exotic and set a tone that brought me back to the Renaissance (or at least the way I envision the renaissance was since as far as I know I was never actually there).

I'm very interested to see if he keeps up the same standard of excellence in the next book. ( )
  ragwaine | Sep 28, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christopher Mooreprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Morton, EuanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
I always feel like a traveler, going somewhere, toward some destination. If I sense that this destination doesn't in fact exist, that seems to me quite reasonable and very likely true. -Vincent van Gogh, July 22, 1988

Well, I have risked my life for my work, and it has cost me half my reason-- -Vincent van Gogh, July 23, 1890
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This is a story about the color blue.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
In July 1890, Vincent van Gogh went into a cornfield and shot himself. Or did he? Why would an artist at the height of his creative powers attempt to take his own life . . . and then walk a mile to a doctor's house for help? Who was the crooked little "color man" Vincent had claimed was stalking him across France? And why had the painter recently become deathly afraid of a certain shade of blue?

These are just a few of the questions confronting Vincent's friends—baker-turned-painter Lucien Lessard and bon vivant Henri Toulouse-Lautrec—who vow to discover the truth about van Gogh's untimely death. Their quest will lead them on a surreal odyssey and brothel-crawl deep into the art world of late nineteenth-century Paris.

Oh lÀ lÀ, quelle surprise, and zut alors! A delectable confection of intrigue, passion, and art history—with cancan girls, baguettes, and fine French cognac thrown in for good measure—SacrÉ Bleu is another masterpiece of wit and wonder from the one, the only, Christopher Moore.
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Baker-turned-painter Lucien Lessard and bon vivant Henri Toulouse-Lautrec vow to discover the truth behind the untimely death of their friend Vincent van Gogh, which leads them on a surreal odyssey and brothel-crawl deep into the art world of late-nineteenth-century Paris.… (more)

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