As a fan of both Proust and of painting I was looking forward to reading this. The format is simple enough: the author, or perhaps compiler would be a better word as this is rather an academic exercise, has taken every reference to a painting in Proust's 3,500-page novel, In Search of Lost Time, and provided us with an image of the artwork alongside the relevant paragraph from the book. Karpeles, an American artist, has obviously done a great deal of research: a labour of love, no doubt, and the result is very appealing, with over 200 paintings covered. But this is a book to be taken in small doses, such is the richness and the repetitive nature of the format.
What Karpeles has really achieved is to remind us what a brilliant writer Proust was and how many works of art he referred to in his great masterpiece. This is an admirable achievement, but it doesn't add up to much more than a pleasurable treat, something to dip into now and again.
My biggest complaint is with the pointlessly small type size of the captions that accompany each illustration: although the quality of the colour printing is excellent, anyone with less than perfect eyesight will find it a struggle to read, even though there is plenty of space on every page and the captions could easily have been made bigger.
Much as I enjoyed being reminded of Proust's incomparable writing, and also the reproductions of some beautiful paintings, I was glad that I'd borrowed the book from the library rather than forked out £25 for something I would be unlikely to spend much time reading.