Fans of Christopher Moore, art history or even reading in general: pull up a chair because Moore’s new novel, “Sacre Bleu,” is his latest must-read.
Moore has always written books with a slightly altered perspective that completely changes a story. In his 2002 novel, “Lamb,” he wrote about Jesus’ teenage years through the point of view of his childhood friend, Biff. In Moore’s 2009 novel, “Fool,” he takes the plot of “King Lear,” but tells it from the perspective of the court jester. The premise for “Sacre Bleu” is no different.
The novel starts with the death of famous Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh in a cornfield in 1800s Paris. The narrative takes the point of view of Van Gogh’s friend and fellow painter Lucien Lessard, as well as the Post-Impressionist painter Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. The storyline includes famous impressionist and post-impressionist artists such as Paul Gauguin, Edouard Manet and Claude Monet, just to name a few.
Moore describes these characters based on historical descriptions given by people that knew them. In accordance with his type of writing, Moore does not portray them as perfect humans, as many of us choose to remember them because they were gifted artists. He reveals all of their imperfections, which only draws the reader further into the story and gives the characters more depth than they are usually given.
The theme of the color blue is consistent throughout the book. It starts out as just the color of the Virgin Mary’s cloak in paintings but then evolves into the color that haunts all the artists. As the color is distributed to the artists by the mysterious Colorman, strange things begin to occur, giving this blue paint a special meaning, acting as a catalyst for most of the events in the plot.
Moore combined multiple genres in order to create the novel, including farce, science fiction, historical fiction and mystery. Moore called it a “comedy d’art.” On the surface, this book is a murder mystery set in the past, which is even more interesting when famous artists are the main characters. Time travel adds to the equation for a riveting read. This book is the next evolution in the art of writing that leaves the reader wondering how Moore came up with his ideas.
Moore does an incredible job weaving together art, culture, history, comedy and the supernatural. As a longtime fan of Christopher Moore, this book does not disappoint by showing his artistic range and abilities as an author. He continues to surprise his readers with his plotlines but still essentially remains his true self, adding comedy and unique perspectives to dark and dreary situations.
Contact CUI Entertainment Reporter Ellie Patterson at Elizabeth.N.Patterson@colorado.edu.