Book Review: Sacré Bleu by Christopher Moore
This is a fun book with lewd artists, loose women, and a lusty muse. It’s about the color blue.
It’s not about just any blue. It’s about a special blue, a mystical blue, a sacred blue, a blue that fell from the sky in a fiery ball almost forty-thousand years ago. It’s about a blue that provides inspiration — for a price. There are other colors mentioned, but the plot is about blue, and I can tell you little else about it without it becoming a spoiler.
The plot is not a terribly complex one. It could have been relayed quite well in a short story rather than a novel, but then we would not have been able to hang out in late Nineteenth Century Paris with some of the most entertainingly eccentric characters you will ever meet, real or fictional. Those between the covers of this book are a bit of both.
Obviously, this is a character-driven story more than a plot- or action-driven story. I don’t mind this. In fact, I prefer it. If I don’t care about the characters, I don’t care about what happens to them. Conversely, if I do care about the characters, then pretty much anything they do that is worthy of mention has a good chance of being interesting or, especially in the case in this book, amusing.
Even for a character-based story, though, this book is outside the norm. It centers on the fictional artist/baker Lucien Lessard, but it begins with Vincent Van Gogh. Through the course of the story, we also meet Renoir, Monet, Pissaro, Manet, Whistler, and others whose personalities are based, with due artistic license, on historical characters. My personal favorite is Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. This libidinous little guy is portrayed with such an uninhibited lust (literally) for life that I find him oddly refreshing. He is lecherous, immodest, and lewd, but his unrepentant surrender to his baser desires makes him seem somehow more honest and human.
The physical book published by Harper Collins is very well done. It includes several full-color images of works by some of the artists mentioned. The art along with the story allows the reader to imagine deeper insights into the artists’ personalities. The fact that these personalities may be largely fictional is completely beside the point. This is not a book of history. It is not a biography. It is a novel. It is fiction. It is a work of art.