Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Yellow House: A novel about Vincent van Gogh by Jeroen Blokhuis

(Thank you to Holland Park Press for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book: (from Goodreads)

The Yellow House, by Jeroen Blokhuis, paints a fictional picture of Vincent van Gogh’s life between August 1888 and December 1889 when he lived in Arles in Southern France and where he created many of his masterpieces.

In his debut novel Jeroen Blokhuis tells the story from van Gogh’s point of view, from inside his mind, providing a fresh and revealing look at how this intriguing painter worked.

The Vincent in this novel very much tries to fit in, but is often baffled by how people react. Almost as if he can only express himself through his paintings, which in turn flummox the public. In one scene people literally turn up to see Vincent and Gauguin paint Marie Ginoux, but he, Vincent, is just concerned about creating a good painting.

my thoughts:

When I think of Vincent van Gogh, I think of:

1. Starry Night.
2. Sunflowers.
3. Cafe Terrace at Night
4. He cut off his ear?

And now, having read The Yellow House: A novel about Vincent van Gogh by Jeroen Blokhuis, I think of:

1.  painting, painting, painting
2. Gauguin
3. friendship
4. belonging
5. the yellow house
6.  his ear
7.  sadness, confusion, madness

I feel as if I've just read van Gogh's journal for the year 1888 through 1889.  Blokhuis has written in such an engaging and open manner, that you can't help but feel as if you are there beside van Gogh.  I could taste the night air, hear the sizzle of meat hitting the frying pan as Gauguin cooked, and sit at the crowded cafe next to both artists as they people watch.  I can hear van Gogh's thoughts as he  wonders how Gauguin is able to befriend the people of Arles, while he can't even get them to converse with him.  He seems desperate for this friendship with Gauguin to succeed.  And then I see him hospitalized and trying to make sense of disturbing images that seem to plague him.  It is a mesmerizing peek into the life of a man who created such beauty, all the while suffering from such deep sadness, insecurity and despair.

I found myself captivated by this story.  I enjoyed getting to know van Gogh and Gauguin.  I loved the passion and talent they both had for art.  I felt that Blokhuis captured their relationship perfectly - dysfunctional with a capital D.  I found myself googling their paintings and getting lost in the images they created.  This book took hold and didn't let go.  I absolutely loved it.

I would happily recommend this novel to fans of Vincent van Gogh and anyone looking for their next great read - you will LOVE this book!

Thank you to Holland Park Press for providing me with a copy of this book!


Bellezza said...

I didn't learn about hebyellow house until I visited the Van Gogh exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago a few years ago. They replicated it in their display, but of course nothing is like reading about it! I like how you wrote what you thought of regarding Van Gogh before and then after you finished this book. It's great how our knowledge expands. The only thing I would add personally, which I always think about, is his brother, Theo, and how supportive he was to Vincent.

Ti said...

Love Van Gogh!

Nadia said...

M, I have a friend who visited the van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and absolutely loved it. I think it made her fall even more in love with his work. I love that you were able to see a display of The Yellow House :) Its funny, because I never really write about how a book expands on my knowledge of a topic, but it happens all the time (which is one of the reasons I love to read). Yes, Theo is mentioned, but not as much as I would have hoped.

Nadia said...

Ti, me too!!

Lark said...

I love Van Gogh's paintings! When I went to Paris I even went to Auvers-sur-Oise to visit his grave. I will definitely be reading this book! Love that you posted about it. :)

Nadia said...

Lark, that is amazing! Yes! Check out this book - you will LOVE it :)

Vintage Reading said...

I'm fascinated by Van Gogh. When I saw one of his sunflower paintings in London it actually glowed with colour. I'm interested in this book.

Nadia said...

Nicola, me too! I can believe that. His paintings are magical. :)