Book Review: The Private Lives of the Impressionists by Sue Roe

The following review originally appeared on Book End Babes, a website devoted to a love of reading and to learning about new authors.

Those of you who have read my reviews in the past, know that I am a huge fan of mysteries and all things fiction. This review may have you confused.

I’m a huge fan of impressionist paintings, particularly Monet. A colleague of mine was reading this book and I was absolutely intrigued by it. That and the fact that it made the New York Times Bestseller List. (I’m a book snob like that sometimes)

The description complements of Amazon:

Though they were often ridiculed or ignored by their contemporaries, today astonishing sums are paid for their paintings. Their dazzling works are familiar to even the most casual art lovers—but how well does the world know the Impressionists as people?

Sue Roe’s colorful, lively, poignant, and superbly researched biography, The Private Lives of the Impressionists, follows an extraordinary group of artists into their Paris studios, down the rural lanes of Montmartre, and into the rowdy riverside bars of a city undergoing monumental change. Vivid and unforgettable, it casts a brilliant, revealing light on this unparalleled society of genius colleagues who lived and worked together for twenty years and transformed the art world forever with their breathtaking depictions of ordinary life.

I love a good biography now and then, but this read more to me like fiction. I breezed through this biography quickly, intrigued by the intertwining of my favorite impressionists, how their paths crossed and their individual stories. I felt like I got a new insight into each of the painters famous paintings, many of which were ridiculed at the time of their creation. Roe describes the stories in such detail that you can feel the pain, anguish, disappointment and joys of each depicted artist throughout their journey.

My favorite fact from this book is the dynamics between Manet and Monet. I had always known that their names had caused confusion in the art world, but the book dives in past that. It’s an interesting story.

If you love art, the impressionists or just want to become more knowledgeable, this is a great read. Great last minute gift for the art lover as well!

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