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A most unusual book on a fascinating topic. As a reader, I kept turning the pages to disvover a story which was completely unknown to me, although, being an artist, I have often looked at the art of Modigliani and other artists of this period. While reading, I was transferred to an imaginary world, then back to a real one, into different places and periods, all told in a masterly and vivid way! The main story is told both directly by Jeanne and via other stories, which all combine in a seemingly effortless way to create a world seen from different angles. What lingers in my mind most after reading it, is how people relate to art and how art is treated in the art-world. A well worth read, strongly recommend!
This narrative is based on a real person Jeanne Hébuterne, the 'wife' of Amadeo Modigliani, an Italian Jewish painter and sculptor who worked mainly in France. His nickname is Modi.
Jeanne Hébuterne was a French artist best known as the frequent subject and common-law wife of the artist Amedeo Modigliani. She took her own life two days after Modigliani died, and is now buried beside him. They both died in 1920.
I initially became interested in this book because my favorite genre is historical fiction. I LOVED the book, but let me tell you: THIS IS NO ORDINARY HISTORICAL FICTION.
Written in 6 parts, the first is entitled "Afterlife A Gothic Fairy Tale Out the Window January 26, 1920". We meet Jeanne as a dead person. All her thoughts are seen from the other side. She had jumped out a window to her death. Thinking as a dead person might..how immensely fascinating. Extremely imaginative too. Highlights: 1) the Paris of the Dead. Did you know that there is another Paris where only dead people live? 2) the trial of Jeanne because she was accused of double murder - her own and her unborn child. Jeanne is looking for Modi. Will she be allowed to be with him where he now resides... with the Immortals?
Part 2 "Ghosts of Montparnasse The Missing Madonna 1981". An art student has come to Paris for a year to write a thesis on the Chilean artist, Manuel Ortiz de Zarate, whose studio was once located on these premises in the glorious years of Montparnasse. Modigliani had worked in the upstairs loft of these premises. She meets Annie Rosier who had been a model for Ortiz. Annie is more interested in talking about Modi than Ortiz. She mentions the Missing Madonna, a portrait of Jeanne and her baby girl, started by Modi and finished by Jeanne.
Part 3 "The Notebooks of Jeanne Hébuterne" relates her life with her family and with Modi. These notebooks were bequeathed to the student by Annie. They are worth a fortune.
Part 4 "The Missing Madonna 2". Annie and the student set off for Nice... looking for The Missing Madonna. Annie then says that it is too dangerous in Venice and they continue their journey to attempt to find the painting in Rome.
Part 5 "Afterlife"
Part 6 "The Holy Family of the Circus Venice, 2021"
The story was well constructed. The phrasing was flawless; I do not think there was a word out of place. The last two parts were completely surprising to me and I leave them un-described. I leave it to the reader of this review to PLEASE READ THE BOOK.
This is my first book by Lapin. It won't be my last. I originally got a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. I loved it so much, I paid for the Kindle copy. The review was a real pleasure to write. Will remember this book for a long time. Definitely in my top 10 for the year 2020 and my lst book to finish this year.
I'm not a great reviewer. All I can say is it's a page-turner and even though I have never heard of the artists named in this book, nor am I into art, for that matter, but I still enjoyed every word. It is beautifully and intelligently written, and pulls you in from the start with a great premise and an original one at that. When life made me have to stop reading, I thought about the characters and where I was at in the story until I could set aside what didn't need to be handled right away to get back to it. Every chapter tied in to the end which was a surprise for me and an interesting one to boot. I was disappointed when the story had to end. But it's still with me and now I'm interested in that world and want to visit every place the book mentioned. Someday.
As an art historian and longtime devotee of the art of Modigliani, i feel this book should be required reading for students, scholars, and fans of early twentieth-century modern art. The author brings alive the streets of Paris in a new way, incredibly through the eyes and thoughts of Jeanne Hebuterne after her death. Jeanne’s journals are mesmerizing as are the recollections of a young art scholar years later. It is not an exaggeration to say this book is a tour de force in the art and craft of the biography genre. There is no doubt this will renew the interest in and promote further scholarship in the works of yet another once neglected female artist.
Without the curiosity of this author we would not have access to yet another female artist. She has opened my eyes to not only Jeanne Hebuterne, but to all the artists in her circle including Modigliani. I read this book with the internet open, enjoying the images of all the painters and the music of Schubert. I’m enriched. I’m grateful. And I look forward to ready Linda’s other books.