Publication Date: January 27, 2015 Plume
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: digital galley from publisher for an honest review
A mesmerizing tale of art and passion in Belle Époque France. As a woman, aspiring sculptor Camille Claudel has plenty of critics, especially her ultra-traditional mother. But when Auguste Rodin makes Camille his apprentice—and his muse—their passion inspires groundbreaking works. Yet, Camille’s success is overshadowed by her lover’s rising star, and her obsessions cross the line into madness. Rodin’s Lover brings to life the volatile love affair between one of the era’s greatest artists and a woman entwined in a tragic dilemma she cannot escape.
When I agreed to read and review Rodin's Lover, I had never heard of Camille Claudel, but I loved Heather Webb's first book, Becoming Josephine, so I was eager to read it. I should have known after reading Becoming Josephine, that I would be immediately caught up in the story.
From the first few paragraphs of the book, the reader is shown the close relationship between Camille and her bother, Paul - at least early on. Their personalities are very different: Camille is impetuous, playful, consumed by her need to create art and rebellious against the social constraints for females; Paul is more thoughtful, conservative and easily influenced by others.
Because I didn't know anything about Claudel, I did Google her and Wikipedia came to my rescue. I could see why she would be a compelling character for a book. Webb does a wonderful job of bringing this wild, passionate woman to life in the pages of her book. If I had to sum up Claudel's life and Rodin's Lover in one word it would be "passion". Claudel is passionate about her art and about Rodin, her art tutor, colleague and lover.
Claudel's lack of concern for social convention and her complete lack of submissiveness make her life even more difficult than it would have been anyway as a woman, much less a woman who was also an artist. Most people did not take a female artist serious - she would soon marry and leave all that behind, wouldn't she? This was the expectation and Claudel would not conform to this and insists on being taken seriously.
I think that Webb did a great job of demonstrating the conflicts that Claudel experienced while at the same time allowing the reader to see that Claudel maybe wasn't the easiest person to be around. At times she seems obnoxious and arrogant, but even so, I felt for her and her desire to be a great artist. She seems to have been a highly emotional person and her strong emotions seem at times to trigger what will eventually become serious emotional and mental problems. I thought the manner that Webb chose to indicate that Claudel was about to experience or was in the middle of experiencing an episode of her mental illness was quite well done and didn't downplay or trivialize what she was feeling and/or experiencing.
I really enjoyed Rodin's Lover even though it is quite a tragic tale. Webb brings Claudel to life again in the pages of the book and I loved reading about her creativity and her passion for life. This story stays with me even now - a tribute to Claudel and to Webb's ability to bring characters to vivid life in her books. I definitely recommend Rodin's Lover to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, or art and artists.
Advanced Praise for Rodin's Lover“Rodin’s Lover is a textured historical novel that captures the indomitable spirit of artist Camille Claudel, a woman whose mighty talent was nearly eclipsed by her potent love for fellow artist Auguste Rodin. Can two passionate, creative talents thrive together or will one flame inevitably consume the other? Webb gracefully explores this ignitable relationship while illuminating Claudel’s untold heartbreak and evocative artwork. A story of human emotion, once raw and malleable, now preserved to lasting stone.” ~ Sarah McCoy, New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling author of The Baker’s Daughter
“Rodin’s Lover is the story of Camille Claudel–one of history’s boldest and most brilliant artists. Forced to choose between a torturous love affair and the art that consumed her, Claudel is an audacious and authentic character who deserves to be remembered. RODIN’S LOVER is epic and unflinching–a book you won’t soon forget.” –Deanna Raybourn, NYT bestselling author and Rita Winner of City of Jasmine waltz
“Rodin’s Lover is an evocative portrait of the talented and explosive Camille Claudel who struggled between passion as the lover of Rodin and recognition as an innovative sculptor in her own right. From smoky cafés to clay-streaked ateliers, Heather Webb has created a vivid picture of Belle Époque Paris.” –Jessica Brockmole, author of Letters from Skye
“Dazzling!….. In Rodin’s Lover, author Heather Webb brings to life, with vivid detail, the story of brilliant and tormented sculptress Camille Claudel and the epic love affair with the legendary sculptor who worshiped her. Deeply moving and meticulously researched, this book will capture your heart, then hold it tightly long after the final page.” –Anne Girard, author of Madame Picasso
“A rich, sensuous novel…[was] written with great empathy for the very human Rodin and his lover, this novel of the visceral world of the 19th century Paris ateliers, of clay-stained dresses and fingernails, lithe models who vow to remain and then go, family love which stays through all difficulties and talent which endures, comes vividly to life.” --Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet
“Rodin’s Lover is a taut and engrossing look at sexism in the arts through the eyes of a lesser known figure, Camille Claudel, inspiring the reader to examine what’s changed and what hasn’t.” –Julie Kibler, bestselling author of Calling Me Home
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About the AuthorHeather Webb grew up a military brat and naturally became obsessed with travel, culture, and languages. She put her degrees to good use teaching high school French for nearly a decade before turning to full time novel writing and freelance editing. Her debut, BECOMING JOSEPHINE, released January 2014 from Plume/Penguin. Her forthcoming novel, RODIN'S LOVER, will release in winter of 2015. When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world. For more information, please visit Heather's website. She loves to chitchat on Twitter with new reader friends or writers (@msheatherwebb), on Facebook, or via her blog. Stop on by!
Rodin's Lover Blog Tour ScheduleMonday, January 19
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Review & Interview at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Tuesday, January 20
Review at Broken Teepee
Spotlight at Boom Baby Reviews
Wednesday, January 21
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Thursday, January 22
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Friday, January 23
Review at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Monday, January 26
Review at Poof Books
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, January 27
Review at Library Educated
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, January 28
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, January 29
Review at Book Babe
Review at The Book Binder's Daughter
Friday, January 30
Review at Book Drunkard
Monday, February 2
Review at Unabridged Chick
Tuesday, February 3
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Interview at Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, February 4
Review at Brooke Blogs
Thursday, February 5
Review at A Book Geek
Friday, February 6
Review at The True Book Addict
Monday, February 9
Review at A Literary Vacation
Review at CelticLady's Reviews
Tuesday, February 10
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Wednesday, February 11
Review at 100 Pages a Day - Stephanie's Book Reviews
Thursday, February 12
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Spotlight at Historical Readings & Reviews
Friday, February 13
Review at The Maiden's Court