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.
I 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!