Having never read a book by Christopher Moore, I hardly knew what to expect beyond “irreverent” and “witty” – the two words that pop up consistently in Goodreads reviews of his work. When I was searching for my first adult audio book, those were just the words that appealed to me. I only have 20 minutes each way, so I needed a story that would hold my attention, something I could stop and start and nothing too heavy. Christopher Moore seemed to fit the bill and Sacre Bleu was on the shelf at the library so I went for it.
Success all around.
I am sure the other west suburban commuters thought I was loony. I was literally slapping my knee laughing out loud during portions of this book – which must have made for an odd sight at stop lights. Moore is smart-assed hilarious, definitely irreverent, and sometimes brilliant.
“The Painting is not shit,’ said Lucien.
‘I know,’ said Henri. ‘That was just part of the subterfuge. I am of royal lineage; subterfuge is one of the many talents we carry in our blood, along with guile and hemophilia.”
He reimagines art history in 19th century Paris, mixing together all the masters of the time, and travelling back far enough to throw in Michelangelo as well. The cast of characters is at once familiar (van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet) and unusual (each intimately connected to the next). The plot centers around a murder/suicide, a mysterious color man, the enchanting Juliet and a baker/painter named Lucien. Throw in some politics, magic, curious inventions, cave paintings and whores and you get a mess of book that delighted me just the same.
To be honest, I didn’t really care about the plot per se. It is far-fetched to say the least and involves ancient witchcraft, impressionist painters and more suspension of disbelief than I’m used to granting, but, in the end, none of that mattered. I was taken in by Moore’s language and satire. For all the bouts of uproarious laughter, he scratched at deeper truths and several times I wished to stop the CD and write down passages.
“They are between. Not what they used to be, and not what they have become. In those times, they are nothing. And I am invisible, and I am nothing too. That is the true demimonde, Lucien, and the secret is, it is not always desperate and dark. Sometimes it is just nothing. No burden of potential or regret. There are worse things than being nothing, my friend.”
I am officially now a fan of Christopher Moore, and audio books. Only one question remains, “What should I listen to next?”