Monday, January 11, 2021

Book review of Loving Modigliani by Linda Lappin

 

French Village Diaries book review Loving Modigliani by Linda Lappin
Loving Modigliani by Linda Lappin


Linda Lappin

on Tour January 7-20 with  

Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife Of Jeanne Hébuterne

(literary fiction/historical fiction/fantasy) Release date: December 15, 2020 at Serving House Books 343 pages Goodreads

Buy It Here: Amazon


SYNOPSIS

Amedeo Modigliani, embittered and unrecognized genius, dies of meningitis on a cold January day in Montparnasse in 1920. Jeanne Hébuterne, his young wife and muse, follows 48 hours later, falling backwards through a window. Now a ghost, Jeanne drifts about the studio she shared with Modigliani—for she was not only his favorite model, but also an artist whose works were later shut away from public view after her demise. Enraged, she watches as her belongings are removed from the studio and her identity as an artist seemingly effaced for posterity, carried off in a suitcase by her brother. She then sets off to rejoin Modigliani in the underworld. Thus begins Loving Modigliani, retelling the story of Jeanne Hébuterne’s fate as a woman and an artist through three timelines and three precious objects stolen from the studio: a notebook, a bangle, and a self-portrait of Jeanne depicted together with Modi and their daughter. Decades later, a young art history student will discover Jeanne’s diary and rescue her artwork from oblivion, after a search leading from Paris to Nice, Rome, and Venice, where Jeanne’s own quest will find its joyful reward.






MY REVIEW

We are with nineteen-year-old Jeanne Hébuterne as she falls to her death, just days after her lover, the artist Modigliani, dies. It is a brutal death and together with her trapped spirit we witness the horror on her family’s faces as they see her crumpled, broken body in the courtyard of their Parisian apartment. 

 

As Jeanne comes to terms with what she has done, we are with her as she takes her first steps in the afterlife, desperate to do all she can to be reunited with her beloved Modi. With the help of unexpected new friends, she travels through portals that take her between a seemingly parallel Paris for the dead, the underworld, and even give her a glimpse into the future she missed. Death for Jeanne is like a dream where you never quite seem to get where you need to be, and where increasingly bizarre situations crop up to delay your progress. 

 

This is a book of many parts, each one as intriguing as the other. No sooner had I got settled into the afterlife, when we are transported back to Paris, in the 1980’s, where an art student writing her thesis is introduced to a mysterious elderly lady. Annie is one of the last people alive to have met Modi and Jeanne, but time is running out for her and she has secrets she needs to share, before it is too late.

 

When Jeanne’s diaries turn up unexpectedly, decades after her death, the next part of this book takes us back into Montparnasse and the Parisian art scene during the First World War. The parties, the deceit, the poverty, the passion. We follow the young Jeanne as she begins to break away from the safety of her bourgeois family and find her independence with the artists she so admires.

 

Each different part of this book captivated me and swept me up in the mystery of Jeanne’s life, and the final part, which was probably the most unexpected, brought everything together just perfectly and left me with a smile on my face.

 

With Jeanne’s life and death being such an enigma, this isn’t the first fiction book I have read about her, and it certainly left me wanting to know more about Jeanne, Modi, his art, and their daughter. I couldn’t have picked a better book to begin a new year of reading. 

 


French Village Diaries book review Loving Modigliani by Linda Lappin
Linda Lappin

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Linda Lappin has published four novels: The Etruscan (Wynkin de Worde, 2004); Katherine’s Wish, dealing with the life of Katherine Mansfield (Wordcraft, 2008), shortlisted for Foreward Book of the Year and iPPY gold medal winner in historical fiction; Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery, winner of the Daphne DuMaurier Award from RWA for the best mystery novel of 2013; and Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne. She is also the author of The Soul of Place: Ideas and Exercises for Conjuring the Genius Loci, winner in 2015 of the gold medal in creativity in the Nautilus Book Awards. She lives in Rome. Visit the author’s website and her blog. Follow the author on Facebook, and Twitter Join her mailing list
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5 comments:

  1. wow, so glad you loved it and made your year of reading start in a great way! Emma at France Book Tours

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Emma. I love that you open my reading eyes to new choices.

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  2. This sounds like my kind of book. I have always loved Modigliani's work -- I find it so striking. Years ago I saw a movie about him (not a documentary so I'm sure it was riddled with creative license) but still fascinating and my first intro to his relationship with Jeanne. It sounds very good and fascinating in many ways.

    Thanks for stopping by yesterday!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Jeanie. I love how fiction on historical characters opens my mind to the possibilities of what their lives were like.

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  3. I reviewed this as well and I loved it too! I can already tell it's going to be one of my top reads of 2021, even though the year has just started. Here's my review: https://bonniereadsandwrites.wordpress.com/2021/01/15/book-review-loving-modigliani/

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