Sacré Bleu by Christopher Moore

Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d'ArtSacré Bleu: A Comedy d’Art by Christopher Moore
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Maybe I would have liked this better if Vincent Van Gogh hadn’t died right at the beginning? I was expecting to love it, it’s about painting and Impressionism and is set mostly in Paris; what’s not to like? I guess I got a little spoiled with the wonderful female characters in Lamb. There are very few female characters in Sacré Bleu and the main one, Juliette, just came across as flat. The plot was pretty good, at least. And this edition was chock full of paintings by the Impressionists, which was cool. The text drifts between reddish blue and purplish blue. The plot drifts from the late 1800s to 3800 BCE, to 122 CE. Everything is so creative. It’s all drenched in what I’m starting to think of as Moore’s trademark sarcastic humour. I’m not really sure what left me feeling kind of cold about it. Maybe the stereotypical language started to grate on my nerves? The sort where women are sluts if they’re sleeping with anyone other than you, and prudes if they aren’t sleeping with anyone? That attitude shows up a lot here, and after reading the open-minded, sex-positive Lamb I wasn’t expecting it at all. Along with the reams of male commentary on women’s bodies. Which I don’t mind when it’s accompanied by comments on the men’s bodies. For some reason Moore didn’t include that here, and as a result this book really seems to cater to the heterosexual male reader, and exclude the heterosexual women and gay men. (Although homosexual women may appreciate the descriptions, along with the many nudes.) Not to harp on it, but that kind of lopsided representation has really started to get under my skin. It was more irritating than the murders, and occasional rapes. At least those were only depicted with the broadest, most suggestive strokes. Like Monet’s waterlilies before he got his cataracts removed. You know what’s going on, but can’t pick out any details. Something that really helps for anyone who is sensitive to violence.

My favourite part of this book is the afterword, which Moore titled So, Now You’ve Ruined Art. Moore describes what is and isn’t true in the book, and why he took the liberties he did. He even lists a few of the best books he read during his research so you can seek them out as well, for some non-fiction follow up to your fantasy novel. It’s a nice touch. Still sarcastic and witty, but with research. What’s not to love?

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