Today I'm celebrating the discovery of another fabulous read, a novel about Rodin, the French sculptor, and his tempestuous relationship with Camille Claude, his muse and the love of his life.
Rodin's Lover is set in Belle Epoque Paris -- the Paris of the French Impressionist painters. The author, Heather Webb, captures the era beautifully: cobblestone streets, cafés, ateliers (artists' studios), gaslit street lamps and the new electrical lights, church spires, horse-drawn carriages, the elite art critiques who held artists' destinies in their hands. To that mix, Webb brings the texture and reality of sculpting in clay, chiseling and polishing marble, and the thrill of the artist coaxing life out of stone and mud and creating something to last beyond his or her own life.
The story itself is heart-breaking. The author thoroughly researched the lives of Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel. Camille began studying with the famous sculptor in her late teens, but it soon became evident her genius was on a par with his own. As their relationship evolved, and August trusted her artistic judgement, they became peers critiquing each other's work. Powerfully attracted to each other, it was inevitable that they would become lovers.
In French society, young girls were expected to get married, not have careers. Camille's mother wanted nothing better than to find a suitable suitor for her (though she was a cold and critical mother in every other respect). Camille was strong-willed and independent, determined to become famous and not let herself be broken. She was also suspicious and obsessive. Auguste still lived (unmarried) with the mother of his son and didn't feel he could abandon her. He, too, was strong-willed and obsessive. They were the perfect mix for an affair filled with passion and despair, and the author makes you ache for these two star-crossed artists from the first page until the last.
You can find out more about the book and the author HERE. She's a historical fiction writer and has written another book I would like to get -- Becoming Josephine.
BTW: Please go next door to my Fourth Wish blog to read my review of Mark Noce's debut historical novel that will be published next week -- Between Two Fires It's both historical romance and a mystery set in Celtic Britain in the year AD 597. A really gripping read.
And next week I'll be back to report on four more stories from Beyond Watson, so please come back then.
Meanwhile, do you have a favorite period of history you like to read about? Are you a fan of historical fiction? Or are mysteries more your cup of tea? And what are you celebrating this week? Please share.