The Last Van Gogh

Alyson Richman, Author . Berkley $14 (308p) ISBN 978-0-425-21267-7

Richman (The Mask Carver's Son ; Swedish Tango ) speculates in her third novel that Vincent Van Gogh found his muse in the 21-year-old daughter of his last doctor. Marguerite Gachet, accustomed to her father's revolving door of artist patients (Cezanne, Pissarro, Bernard among them), finds herself enamored of the disheveled Van Gogh ("a rare blend of vulnerability and bravado") shortly after his arrival at her father's home in Auvers, where Van Gogh undergoes treatment for his manifold illnesses. Though Marguerite is little more than a servant to her father, a failed painter turned physician who prides himself to an absurd extent on his art collection, she manages, with the help of her cloistered half-sister, to begin a covert flirtation with Van Gogh. Between sitting—thrice—for Van Gogh and carrying on her household duties, Marguerite uncovers a family secret and has a clandestine rendezvous with the painter. Though Marguerite's frustrated love is carefully rendered, other characters are mostly memorable for their quirks (her father, the failed painter; her brother, the goofy sycophant; her half-sister, the gold-hearted sage). The climax may be a bit breathless, but, then again, Van Gogh isn't remembered for his subtlety. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/07/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
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