Monday, July 12, 2010
If I were asked to tell what words first comes to mind when thinking about Monet, I would have to say water lilies. When I began reading Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell, I realized Claude Monet's life involved more than the beautiful water lilies he painted in Giverny. For example, I had never heard of the painting named Woman in The Green Dress. For this painting the model was Camille. Camille is the woman Monet loved with all of his heart. Their love was passionate and beautiful. At the same time, there were moments of turmoil. As with most artists Claude Monet lacked money. Camille came from a well off family. She was not use to cold rooms, debtors begging for money, lack of food, etc. Another problem they faced in their relationship was Camille's love for city life. She loved Paris and people while Claude Monet loved country life. In the cold and the rain he would stand trying to capture the right light.
Claude and Camille's love affair could have been the beginning, middle and end of the novel. However, along the way other people would interweave themselves in to their lives for better or for worse. There is Alice Hoschede. Also, there is Frederic Bazille. Both of these people become interlocked in the lives of Claude and Camille making their simple romantic love very perplexing, shocking, sad and confusing.
The novel is as beautiful as any of Claude Monet's masterpieces. It is book I will never forget. I am sure all the people I named will step through my memory on any morning, afternoon or evening whether I'm drinking a mug of cocoa in the winter, planting a geranium in the summer or crying and kissing a loved one goodbye for the very last time. I will always remember that love given and lost happens in so many different ways. Now I have ended the book. The last image in my mind are the beautiful water lilies painted by Claude Monet. Perhaps, if I look deep enough, there is a message for me inside those nightly blooms.
"Outside, twilight was falling on the gardens, and the water lilies would be closing for the night. He wiped his eyes and sat for a time to calm himself. Looking around once more, he left the studio and slowly descended the stairs." http://www.amazon.com/gp/mpd/permalink/m3DUSPA9M2O488