TCL’s #DNF Friday #9 – A Bad First Impression(ist).

Why I can’t write a book review for “Oscar & Monet: The Essence of Light” by Joe Byrd.

Summary: Does Claude Monet, a painter with eight children, have room in his heart for one more? Oscar Bonhomme, an American soldier, is in a French Army hospital recovering from his wounds when he learns of his single mother’s death. He remains in France to search for his only remaining family, his father, whom he doesn’t know. She told him that his father is an Impressionist painter. His mother’s friend, Georges Clémenceau, finds Oscar in the hospital and gets him a job as a gardener for Claude Monet.

Age: Adult; Genres: Literary, Fiction; Settings: Historical, France; Other Categories: Novel, Biographical, Romance, Art, Artists.

Oscar & MonetI was a touch wary about this book to begin with, since I won this eBook in a raffle, that I didn’t recall entering until I won a copy. I was also wary because the short summary above is only a small portion of the blurb you’ll find on Goodreads. I’m afraid it never bodes well for a novel that has a summary that is nearly 600 words long!

But, you know, free is free, and I’d read a few good reviews of this book – especially this one by Words and Peace. With that, and since I had a window in my ARC reading schedule, I figured I should give it a try. However, I soon realized that my initial wariness was well warranted.

It started out with slight frustration, and then went steadily downhill from there. For example, Oscar meets the character Isabelle and the level of attraction and extreme desire (on Oscar’s part) was so immediate I was shocked by its rapidity. Then Oscar’s angst got to be so deep, it was way too much for me, that I was afraid Oscar was going to ravage her at any minute. Plus, Isabelle was a horrible tease, and I didn’t like her at all. In addition, their meeting and connection to Monet felt way too convenient for my taste. Furthermore, Isabelle felt way to modern, and Oscar felt way too shy. I should mention that if you haven’t figured out who Oscar’s heretofore, unknown, yet mysterious (alleged) father is by the time you’ve gotten 5% into reading this, then you’re terribly stupid (and the author made Oscar out to be very dim witted).

Remember the old adage “show, don’t tell?” I’m afraid Byrd seems to have abandoned this in his book. However, he certainly used this novel as a way to impart all of his knowledge of Monet (down to some tiny minutia), not by showing us, but by telling us all the facts he knew. I’m afraid I didn’t get very far into this book before I just gave up, but the crash course in Monet’s life and artistry was… um… interesting (until it got boring). Sorry!


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21 thoughts on “TCL’s #DNF Friday #9 – A Bad First Impression(ist).

  1. Wow, really, you didn’t find any redeeming element here?
    I’d like to specify that you actually did enter the giveaway on 5/29/2021, apparently shortly after you commented on my own review.
    You were chosen as a winner, as shown here:
    This was organized by my company France Book Tours.
    I’m not related to the author. I organized the tour, but wasn’t paid to write a positive review. Actually, most books I feature on France Book Tours I don’t review. And you are familiar enough with my blog to know that I don’t hesitate to say something is bad if I think it is. Though at the same time, there’s usually some redeeming elements.

    I agree that some things didn’t work well with Isabelle in the book. Though she does evolve throughout the book. As I explained in my review, the author was encouraged to insert this character. It definitely would have been better if he hadn’t followed that advice. But having her was actually a great way of connecting Monet with the art milieu in Chicago, which was very important for the painter’s fame.
    I did find many positive elements in the book. Some descriptions were really good, and I felt I was seeing things through the characters’ eyes.
    Here is my review, I know you read it, but just in case your readers would enjoy another point of view:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the link to your review. And no, I’m sorry, but I really couldn’t find much to redeem it in my opinion.
      I now remember that I entered that contest, but I quickly forgot about it until I won (I enter lots of giveaway contests and very rarely win them). I really had high hopes for it too (I love Monet so much, a few years ago I went to a special exhibit of his works, and I even bought a pair of waterlilies socks – which I only wear on special occasions.)


    1. Yeah. By the way, I just noticed that I keep calling it “Oscar & Monet” but the title is “Monet & Oscar”! So bad I can’t get the title right. And frankly, it is mainly about this Oscar person, so my mistake makes a better title, if you ask me. One more strike against it!

      Liked by 1 person

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