5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Speculative, fascinating, but grueling bio/historical fiction,
This review is from: Van Gogh (Hardcover)Overall I really don't know how to take this book. Part of me considers it more as a work of historical fiction (they really make 1880's Netherlands come alive) than a serious artists' biography. The story is told fluidly, but I found it easy to lose track of dates. Also, it's written in a contemporary modern novel "page-turner" style. I'm sure this will thrill many readers of contemporary writing that's easy to read and digest.
I do feel that I've gotten a sense of Van Gogh was like more than I ever have. I think that is a great achievement on the authors part, however much of it is based on conjecture. After awhile the conjecture starts reading more as one sweeping statement and quite speculative. The downside to this is that Van Gogh comes across as a very despicable and unlikable person. This is a bit hard to believe and take coming from a man who painted with such deeply felt humanity. It almost feels like an outright character assassination.
A lot of this book reads like a prosecutors presenting a case against Van Gogh and the murder theory seems a little far-fetched. That the authors are former Harvard Law students makes me wonder about their, er ... "motives" for the way in which they wrote this book.