The ever inventive and irreverent Christopher Moore tackles art history (circa 1891) in "Sacre Bleu" and creates a bizarre, spicey and often funny mix of Impressionist painters and angels, demons, trolls and other fantasies. Overall, this marriage of respectably-researched artist biographies cum French cultural history and Moore's usual wild romp of snarky/witty dialogue and otherwordly interventions provides some very entertaining moments. With a fictional Parisian painter, Lucien Lessard, and his Watsonian sidekick, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec on board as protagonists, the story is largely about the lives of late 19th Century Paris artists and their muses--especially about their muses! As often is the case, Moore emphasizes the foibles, vices and follies of his characters, creating some wicked and hilarious dialogue between them.
Funny as much of this book is, between laughs I was doing a lot of head scratching, particularly in the first 100 pages when the unfolding fantasy element was interwoven with the straight fictional aspects of the story. Eventually, this is sorted out and the tale takes off pretty well about halfway through. Interspersed throughout the book is a usually profane account (yes, blue) of Bohemian loose living, the vicissitudes of struggling artists' lives and a lot of Randy Newmanesque jokes about short people (poor Lautrec).
My recommendation is this: if you are familiar with Christopher Moore's work, by all means get this book and read it. If you have not tried the author before, go to another title first to see what you're in for ("Lamb", "A Dirty Job", etc.). The author is an acquired taste and one that requires some tolerance of mixed genres, modern sensibilities and dialogue in historic contexts and acceptance of sophomoric sex jokes.