In sorting through the books set in France we have on the main site, I couldn’t help but notice how many of those novels were to do with art or artists. It makes sense though – one of the first things to pop into your mind when you think of France (after the Eiffel Tower, champagne and berets of course) is bound to be something to do with art. Maybe the Louvre, or an artist (perhaps with a beret!) painting someone’s portrait in Montmartre, or even Monet’s famous painting of his bridge at Giverny.
So – there’s no point in resisting.
If you are going to Paris there’s a good chance that you are going to come across art in some way or another. So, the best thing to do is to arm yourself with a load of novels that will immerse you in the art world of the Belle Époque (Beautiful Era) and by the time you arrive in Paris you will know more that you could possibly imagine about the art on offer when you get there. You’ll probably know a fair bit about the streets of Montmartre as well!
So here it is.
A list of eight novels set in France about French art and artists
Dancing for Degas by Kathryn Wagner The story of a young ballerina at Paris’ Opera Ballet modeling for the Impressionist painter Edger Degas.
Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell Fictionalised version of the relationship between artist Claude Monet and his muse Camille.
I am Madame X by Gioia Diliberto When John Singer Sargent’s portrait of socialite Virginie Gautreau was shown in Paris 1884, it caused a scandal.
Sunflowers by Sheramy Bundrick Artist Vincent Van Gogh’s descent into madness through the eyes of the prostitute Rachel.
Cezanne’s Quarry by Barbara Corrado Artist Paul Cezanne is caught up in the mystery surrounding the murder of a mysterious young woman in Aix-en-Provence.
Depths of Glory by Irving Stone The story of Camille Pissarro one of the main figures of the Impressionist movement.
Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper by Harriett Scott Chessman The story of Lydia, whose sister Mary was at the center of the Impressionist movement in Paris.
Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland Focuses on one of Renoir’s instantly recognizable masterpieces, and imagines the story arounds its creation.
It’s a delightful mix of novels that blend fact and fiction to make the art and artists of the time come alive, forever changing how you look at their work. And what’s even better is the way the same characters appear in lots of the different books – you will feel like a member of the Impressionist family yourself if you manage to read all of these. I am certainly planning on giving it a good go. Why not join me?
P.S. If you’d like to delve beyond the art world, see what other books set in France we have discovered.