Friday, February 5, 2016

Book Review: I Once Knew Vincent

I Once Knew VincentI Once Knew Vincent by Michelle Rene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We all know Vincent the artist, but to Maria he was Vincent the father figure. Maria grew up desperately poor in the Hague, Netherlands, daughter to prostitute Sien and fiercely protective of her younger brother, Willem. Vincent is willing to give them a chance to become family, but will Sien be able to break the cycle of poverty and prostitution to claim the family Maria so desperately desires?

I’m not sure how much of the history in this is accurate, but the story was compelling. The idea of Vincent van Gogh attempting to live a “normal” life but that proving impossible fits with the persona of him as a tortured soul. I also think it is fascinating how Rene weaves together some of van Gogh’s earlier drawings together into a tale of motivation and sorrow that would haunt the rest of his life, as well as Maria’s - the narrator of this tale. This is an example of excellent historical fiction, as it leaves you wondering if maybe, this is really how life unfolded. Rene immerses you into the Dutch society of the late 1800s, and the story unfolds at a lilting but engrossing pace that just draws you in. If you aren’t into historical fiction this might make you a believer.




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