Art history is playfully—and perilously—rewritten in this ambitious novel by bestseller Moore (Bite Me). Working backward from the death of Vincent Van Gogh in 1890, we meet frustrated painter and favored son of a Paris bakery family, Lucien Lessard, whose best pal happens to be Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, that fabled frequenter of brothels. All his life, Lucien has heard words of wisdom and tutelage not only from Toulouse-Lautrec, but also Renoir, Pissarro, and Theo Van Gogh. But after Toulouse-Lautrec receives a strange letter from Van Gogh, dated just before his death, the two begin to investigate “the Colorman,” an odd figure who sold the titular brilliant ultramarine paint to all of these fabled painters during their most prolific, mad, and forgotten periods of work (the Colorman’s arrivals also coincided with the painters’ most intense love affairs). During their investigation, Lucien and Toulouse-Lautrec will discover that the mystery and Lucien’s muse, Juliette, are intimately connected. Spanning nearly 30 years—with a brief interlude in Roman times—the story is steeped in Western art: Renaissance Italy; medieval cathedrals; the fields and studios of pre, post, and high impressionism. Fans of Moore’s mix of wit and slapstick will be pleased.
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