Book Tour Review: Madame Picasso by Anne Girard

Thursday, September 11, 2014
Title: Madame Picasso
Author: Anne Girard 
Genre: historical fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 432
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
Rating: 4/5

The mesmerizing and untold story of Eva Gouel, the unforgettable woman who stole the heart of the greatest artist of our time.

When Eva Gouel moves to Paris from the countryside, she is full of ambition and dreams of stardom. Though young and inexperienced, she manages to find work as a costumer at the famous Moulin Rouge, and it is here that she first catches the attention of Pablo Picasso, a rising star in the art world.

A brilliant but eccentric artist, Picasso sets his sights on Eva, and Eva can't help but be drawn into his web. But what starts as a torrid affair soon evolves into what will become the first great love of Picasso's life.

With sparkling insight and passion, Madame Picasso introduces us to a dazzling heroine, taking us from the salon of Gertrude Stein to the glamorous Moulin Rouge and inside the studio and heart of one of the most enigmatic and iconic artists of the twentieth century.

Paris, love affairs, and art make for an engrossing read with Anne Girard's debut novel Madame Picasso. Focusing on the 1910-1914 years of Pablo Picasso's life (around the beginning of his Cubism period) the author recreates and re-imagines a vivid version of the famous painter and his first great love. Marcelle/Eva is as complicated and fascinating as her more famous male counterpart and Madame Picasso is the stage of which she is the star. Together the two of them carry the story, expanding on what we know of both the famous artist and his mysterious muse during their time together.

The relationship between the two main characters is charged from the start. They both complement and challenge one another; their relationship is always evolving and changing throughout the course of the novel. From the rather inauspicious beginning of their love to the bittersweet end of Madame Picasso, Girard sells these two with their chemistry and charisma. Picasso, a noted lothario, found his other part in Eva -- she inspires him as his muse, and encourages him as his lover when Cubism was still finding its footing in the art world. 

The book is both engaging and vivid -- from the Moulin Rouge to the country getaway of Céret, Girard's version of 20th century France is readily imagined. Given to detail and description, it's easy to see the world that Picasso and Eva lived in under her pen. Their famous friends and rivals -- from Fernande Olivier to Max Jacob to Georges Braque -- also come to life with equal vivacity. Girard is equally capable of capturing time, place, and people with her clear prose. Madame Picasso is a strong novel, and an impressive debut.

I love when historical fiction makes me curious about the real people that inspired a fictional retelling about their lives. I don't usually venture into the 20th century with my historical reads, but Madame Picasso was a breath of fresh, modern(ish) air. Anne Girard takes turn of the century Paris and Pablo Picasso and fully makes both into her own here with Madame Picasso.

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to read this one! I had a HUGE Picasso phase in middle school.

    My only hesitation was 20th century historicals have not worked out for me in the past, but with your rec, I'm adding this back to the TBR.


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