Sacre Bleu: A Comedy D'Art
by Christopher Moore
Lucien is a baker-by-day, painter-by-night at the height of the art explosion in Paris at the turn of the century. He is at the center of it all, drinking with Manet, Seurat, Toulouse Lautrec, Whistler, and all the greats of the era. When he gets word that Van Gogh has just killed himself by apparently shooting himself in a field, and then walking two miles to the nearest doctor, he is a liiiiittle suspicious. This line of inquiry takes him down the rabbit hole, and soon he finds himself dealing with dark, ancient artistic and mystical forces that both threaten and disturbingly inflame the artistic community of Paris.
Usually, you know immediately that you are reading one of Christopher Moore's books. Witty quips, dirty jokes, characters that defy convention. This felt like a well-researched, regular novel. It takes about two or three chapters before you see a joke that you can shake hands with and say "Oh hello, Christopher Moore's style!"
I do appreciate the time and care he has taken to really flesh out the artistic world of Paris at the turn of the century. Using letters and other primary sources as a foundation, he shocks life into artists I knew by name and by work, but never by personality. He peppers the book with images of paintings of the characters in the book (either real or imagined), painted by this small circle of artists themselves. It is a very intimate portrayal of their world.
The magical mystery is tantalizing. Who is the Colorman? Why is he always accompanied by a mysterious woman. Why do they bring death, disease and memory loss in their wake. Moore drops breadcrumb clues expertly, never revealing too much until just the right moment.
The main complaint I have about this book is the resolution. And since I can't talk about that without spoiling things, I will have to be annoying and vague. Suffice it to say that, first, I never was 100% behind the relationship of certain characters which makes part of the ending unsatisfying. Second, it is a pet peeve of mine that, in many stories, a character kills many people, friends of the protagonist even, and they show no signs of remorse, but we are asked to forget about that because they are funny and have strategically and selfishly changed allegiances all of a sudden. Third, I am unsatisfied with Lucien's place at the end of the story. It seems horribly wrong and disturbing to me. I feel he gets neither of his dreams, and he hurts people in the process.
However, I will leave you to make your own conclusions. It is still a solid, funny Christopher Moore book with great characters.
Other great Christopher Moore books:
A Dirty Job