Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Renee at It’s Book Talk. Throwback Thursday is an awesome opportunity to share old favorites as well as older books in our TBR. I love this idea as I only started blogging about two years ago. Therefore, I have lots of old favorites to talk about. While I may not remember all of the details needed to write a complete review, I’m happy to share the thoughts and impressions that have remained with me long after I finished the book.
My pick of the the week is:
Leaving Van Gogh by Carol Wallace
In the summer of 1890, in the French town of Auvers-sur-Oise, Vincent van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a revolver. He died two days later, at the age of thirty-seven, largely unknown despite having completed over two thousand works of art that would go on to become some of the most important and valued in the world.
In this riveting novel, Carol Wallace brilliantly navigates the mysteries surrounding the master artist’s death, relying on meticulous research to paint an indelible portrait of Van Gogh’s final days—and the friendship that may or may not have destroyed him. Telling Van Gogh’s story from an utterly new perspective—that of his personal physician, Dr. Gachet, specialist in mental illness and great lover of the arts—Wallace allows us to view the legendary painter as we’ve never seen him before. In our narrator’s eyes, Van Gogh is an irresistible puzzle, a man whose mind, plagued by demons, poses the most potentially rewarding challenge of Gachet’s career.
Wallace’s narrative brims with suspense and rich psychological insight as it tackles haunting questions about Van Gogh’s fate. A masterly, gripping novel that explores the price of creativity, Leaving Van Gogh is a luminous story about what it means to live authentically, and the power and limits of friendship.
Vincent Van Gogh is my all-time favorite artist. I’m drawn to him because of his art, of course, but also because of his very tragic and mysterious life. Leaving Van Gogh offered an unique look into Van Gogh’s life as it was told from the perspective of his personal physician, Dr. Gachet. Gachet was a friend, caregiver, and muse to Van Gogh and the two shared a close relationship.
When I read this book, I’d just seen a documentary on Van Gogh’s life and death which called into question the story of his severing his own ear and even theorized that he could very well have been murdered. This book offered its own account of the events. I thought the author did a fabulous job of weaving in facts and filling in some of the blanks with compelling fictionalized accounts.
One of the reasons I decided to highlight this book today is that I was a bit surprised to see the ratings on Goodreads (3.68 average) as I gave this book five stars. I devoured it. It was a very emotional read from beginning to end. I recall feeling like I’d been punched in the gut when I finished it.
If you, like me, are a fan of Van Gogh’s work, or are fascinated by his life, I definitely recommend reading Leaving Van Gogh.