Sunflowers - Sheramy Bundrick I liked this book. The author has done impeccable research on the artist and his paintings, searching through all the letters and documents available. I believe the character of Vincent Van Gogh is accurately portrayed. It is very possible that he could have had such a relationship with a woman portrayed as Rachel, and her emotions were poignantly depicted. I love the vibrancy of Van Gogh's art, and that too helped me enjoy this book, but still only three stars. I debated between three and four stars but have chosen three. For me this book wasn't enough. I wanted to know more about his life. So, very well done, but just not enough. It is about the last two years of his life.

Through page 201: I KNOW I am childish and naive and sentimental but I am really annoyed at "the world"! Why do things have to be this way? Rachel and Vincent have themselves in a corner - no money, no hope and now Vincent's illnes. And Rachel's predicament isn't much better! The whole thing pisses me off. The book is good in that you feel their frustration, crziness, hopelessness. It isn't over-done. There are kind people trying to help. It isn't ALL black, but still you feel like punching someone. I am about half-way through the book, when books usually sag; this book isn't sagging at all.

Through page 164: Van Gogh's mental instability, his "craziness", is well portrayed, along with Rachel's emotions on how to deal with this. Vincent's confusion feels very real. If you are an artist working to get your emotions down on the paper is it so strange that your emotions carry you away? When does it become insanity? I guess simply when you can no longer function in the world around you. You understand Van Gogh's fears. Isn't it quite normal to wonder about your inadequacies when your art isn't selling and your friends claim you are doing it "all wrong". I am talking about Gauguin. However there is no right and wrong in art. Van Gogh's life ARE his paintings. If you are collapsing and can perhaps no longer do what you MUST do in life, wouldn't that be enough to make you crazy. Rather circular reasoning but still very true. The dialogue is sometimes excellent, but not always.

Through page 106: The text is sometimes excellent and sometimes mediocre. More often it is the dialogs that lack originality. I think if you know a bit of French you will enjoy the French terms frequently thrown into the text. I like this. If you know French you understand how these terms would be used and they give more than just what the term specifically means. I also like how the customs and festivities of the Provencal life are incorporated into the novel - the Christmas pageants, the bullfights, the superstitions. But I don't like Gaughin. Well that is how he was! A group of three rarely works - this is well depicted! Rachael's emotions are what you would expect. Is that good or is it bad? I don't know; you don't get terribly surprised.....

Just beginning: page 10. It was the writing style that immediately attracted me to this book when I read the snippet that was available before purchase. That is what my "text-checked" shelf means. Several reviewers have NOT highly recommended the book, calling it a light quick read. That is fine as long as it is enjoyable. I do hope I will get into Van Gogh's head. We'll see. The tone is NOTpretentious. Here follows a few examples of the writing style:

"The pair of ladies in their high collared-dresses looked like blackbirds and squawked like hens."

Arles is pretty run down now, but here you see it at the earlier time period of the 1880s. Ages ago it was a great, prosperous city of Roman Gaul. Today, as in the 1880s, it has different faces depending on who you are and and where you are looking:

"When I(Rachel) finally did step off the train at the Arles station years later, Papa was not beside me. I'd lost him a few months before, Mama before that when I was eleven, and I'd come to the city to begin again, best as I could. An unexpected snowfall had blanketed the buildings in sugary white and like any touriste I gaped at the Roman amphitheater and medieval bell towers, wishing Papa had been there to see them with me. I gaped at the tourists themselves as they promenaded down the Boulevard des Lices in greatcoats and furs;I gazed in shop windoxs around the Place du Forum at things I couldn't afford and wondered how long it would take to find a new life."

"But the days and weeks slipped by and the fistful of francs in my valise melted with the snow. I learned that Mama and Papa had been right about Arles. The city had two faces: the one travelers and rich people saw and the one everyone else saw, with dingy caf├ęs and tatty backstreets in sore need of sweeping...."

The countryside around Arles remains beautiful. Both Rachel and I escaped to get happy there, outside the city limits. This is where Rachel first met Vincent. If possible try and get some pictures of what Arles and the surrounding countryside look like. I remember Arles itself as being quite run-down, except at some picturesque spots.

I am stuck on books about artists.....this one is about Van Gogh.