5★Read Again and Again
For me, the measure of a good book is if, along with a feeling of intense satisfaction, I feel like starting it again immediately after finishing it. This was definitely the case with this captivating book. As the title suggests, the famous artist Monet is the lynchpin of the novel.
Take a fascinating journey into the lives of people who become caught up in intrigues that, unbeknown to the artist, surround Monet. He lives his reclusive life working and painting in his much loved house, while being devoted to his ongoing project: the now famous garden at Giverny.
Jennifer Pulling writes in a light and whimsical style that skillfully suggests far deeper levels than are immediately evident. She brings hints of the profound colour surface of Monet’s renowned work into her beautiful descriptions (brushstrokes in words) and often secretive, yet revealing, dialogues:
Running parallel to the mounting intrigues and potential love matches, as well as Monet’s personal preoccupations, is the fascinating life that his ‘step-daughter’ Blanche Monet lives with him. Thanks to his initial instruction in her early life, her accomplished paintings are a constant reminder to her of a life she could lead were it not dominated by the great artist. He rules her life lovingly but, at the same time, like a martinet who habitually interrupts her artistic flow with his day to day household concerns. However, she seems willingly devoted to him. Through this extraordinary relationship we are given a deep insight into the lives that were often laid upon women in those days, and which was accepted by them as par for the course, often at the expense of their own potentially exceptional careers and their private emotional lives.
Jennifer Pulling delightfully builds her fascinating characters with artful use of her knowledge of the elegant fashions, styles and attitudes of the times, which makes a reading experience that is vivid and alive. It would be no surprise to learn that this book were to be sought after for a TV series or a film. It certainly deserves a sequel! [Author's note: Monet's Angels did have a sequel: Monet's Shadow.]