It was the end of WWI when Oscar, an American soldier in a French Army hospital, learned of his mother’s death. With no reason to return home, Oscar decides to remain in France and sets out to find his father, an impressionist painter whose identity he never knew. Through a twist of fate, Oscar is offered a job working in Monet’s world-famous garden at Giverny. Hopeful the most renowned Impressionist can help him find his father, Oscar searches for clues as Monet, tired and disheartened by his deteriorating eyesight, introduces him to his previous painting venues and Impressionist friends.
Thus begins an enthralling and beautiful story filled with art, love, passion, self-discovery, and reconciliation with the past. Set against the backdrop of Monet’s famous garden, this book offers a new, historically accurate depiction of Monet told through the eyes of his fictional....
Drawing on a lifetime of research, Byrd offers an intimate glimpse into the life of Monet, delving into vivid historical details of the painter’s life, such as the importance of Monet’s pond to his paintings; his relationship with his wife and children; his dwindling eyesight in later years; and his cranky yet endearing personality. The prose is invitingly lyrical, with evocative descriptions of natural settings that reflect the inspiration behind Monet’s greatest works: “He looked to be painting the essence of the light that moved on the surface of the pond,” Byrd writes. Byrd intricately weaves fiction and history, presenting an array of characters, including historical figures, that will hook readers as well as enticing romantic threads that generate some suspense with the question of who Oscar might forge a future with–and whether he’ll be the kind of father he never had.
At times, though, the romantic storyline feels stretched, veering toward the sentimental, with prose occasionally straining for effect, and Byrd’s overreliance on fortuity leads to enough coincidences to strain credulity. Still, Monet and Oscar is a gripping read that captures attention—and boasts an abundance of historical figures for audiences to follow. Lovers of history, art, and the history of art will devour this entertaining and informative story.
Takeaway: An entertaining and informative story perfect for historical fiction readers with a love for art
Great for fans of: Stephanie Cowell’s Claude and Camille, Robin Oliveira’s I Always Loved You.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B
Through rich details and lush descriptions, Joe Byrd evokes the good life in France: the love of art, the colors of the light, delicious food, road trips, and marvelous scenery. Perfect armchair travel for those longing to visit France ---- with a riveting romantic plot, and a convincing historical reconstruction of the era and its pleasures which provided inspiration to the impressionist painters. – Linda Lappin, author of Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne
In Joe Byrd’s “Monet and Oscar” we are introduced to Claude Monet in his twilight years. Grouchy, going blind and pampered by his family, the patriarch is ensconced in Giverny, his own personal Shangri-la. Byrd gives us insight into Monet’s life and working habits, and sheds light on just how revered and well-connected Monet was in his dotage. - Lilianne Milgrom, acclaimed author of “L’Origine: The secret life of the world’s most erotic masterpiece
Replete with twists, with lovely scenes that could be mini paintings themselves, Byrd leaves his reader both satisfied but also wanting to know more about his characters, in real life and in fiction. For those who love art and fiction, or who can’t get enough of Monet and his world, this is a don’t-miss novel. – Drēma Drudge, Author of Victorine
Joe Byrd’s historical fiction novel, Monet & Oscar: The Essence of Light, is a passionate look at the early twentieth-century, post-World War I era. The author has taken the life of a famous Impressionist artist, and woven a tale of mystery and intrigue, and, yes, romance, too, into an epic tale much like Irving Stone’s novels about Vincent Van Gogh and Michelangelo.– Reader’s Favorite