Sacre Bleu: a Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore

Some authors start out good and just get better with each book they write, while others like to try their hands at writing different types of stories from those for which they’re known. In Christopher Moore’s latest, I believe that he has achieved both of these. This new novel is very funny and filled with the type of (sometimes ribald, often laugh-out-loud) humor Moore’s fans have come to expect, yet it is also so much more. Sacre Bleu is a Historical Fiction novel about the art and artists of 19th Century France, especially Paris. Some of his other novels have also dealt with historical events (see: Lamb and Fool), but those were much more silly, and less accurate, in their approach. While I have loved just about all of Chris’s novels, I feel like I actually learned more about the time, place, people and subject about which he has written this time. So, yeah, this one is just a bit different from “typical” Christopher Moore, but in a totally good way.

In the novel we meet Lucien Lessard, a young baker in Paris who dreams of being a painter, just as his father did. We also meet many famous French painters of the time, including Van Gogh, Pissaro, Manet, Monet, Seurat, Gaugin, and Lucien’s good friend — and co-star of the novel — Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The story opens with the supposed suicide of Vincent Van Gogh. But, why would anyone, even a tortured artist, shoot himself to end his life and then walk a mile to the nearest doctor’s house? There are also the numerous sightings of a very short, dark, gnarled man around the artists whose presence seems linked to a special ultramarine shade of blue pigment — the very shade that Van Gogh was using while painting outdoors that night.

The mysterious shade of blue is the same one that is used in sacred religious paintings (used mainly for Mary’s cloak), but we soon discover that it may, in fact, have magical properties. The dwarf, known as The Colorman, also has an accomplice for his nefarious schemes, a beautiful young woman called Bleu, who’s been a muse to many painters. Could the mystery of Van Gogh’s death, the dark little dwarf, the madness of artists, and the color blue all be connected? Well, of course, but just how Moore ties all of these things, and more, together has to be read to be appreciated.  What the French artists of the time did with paint, Moore does here with words to wonderful effect.

Find and reserve this funny new novel in our catalog.


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