My rating: 4 of 5 stars
From the charm of the 1920s to the wonderful characters, fictional and fictionalized, this book shines!
After the end of the first World War, American soldier Oscar Bonhomme awakens in a military hospital. He was being treated for multiple injuries he’d received in action on the battlefields of Meuse-Argonne. His return to consciousness was greeted with the news that his mother had passed away back home in San Francisco. She had been his only parent, a free spirit, who’d rubbed elbows in France in her younger days with those who would later be known as the core artists of the Impressionist movement. She’d returned to San Francisco and supported herself and her son as a successful landscape designer but had never been able to tell Oscar who his father was, just that he was one of the artists.With no one else waiting for him there, he decides to remain in France to recuperate further. Through the intervention of a friend he’d made in the hospital, the famous Impressionist painter, Claude Monet, hires him to care for his gardens and assist with setting up his equipment when he paints and then as a traveling companion. With a career in landscape design like his mother in his sights, Oscar jumps at the chance to see and learn about the famous gardens and learn from Monet about his fellow painters and discover which one is his father.
A mix of actual and fictional characters, Monet & Oscar by author, Joe Byrd, is a satisfying page-turner of a story. The easy-to-read writing style allowed the story to flow, and I was immediately caught up in its current. I could feel the sun as it shone on the pond in Monet’s garden at the various times of the day with the wonderful descriptions that added so much without ever bogging things down.In addition to the comfort and immersion in the settings, I loved the characters. Most specifically, I was charmed by the main character, Oscar, he was so earnest and well-meaning, and he had this little touch of naiveté that really made me like him. The author did a great job creating the character of Isabelle. She was fun and feminine and evocative of the roaring 20s. Their romance is absorbing and nail-biting. Also, Monet’s large, close-knit family was great. I enjoyed ‘meeting’ them and experiencing their interactions with the elder Monet as his eyesight is going and his physical strength is starting to fail, with Oscar, who they immediately seem to make one of their own (without knowing about his search for his father), and Isabelle, too, when she enters the picture.
MONET & OSCAR is a wonderful historical fiction novel with mystery, romance, and adventure. There were twists and surprises throughout that kept the story moving and me turning the pages. I recommend this book for readers of historical fiction, those who would enjoy a satisfying tale featuring one of the greatest Impressionist artists, and even someone who would love to experience this time and place in France without leaving home to do so.I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through France Book Tours.
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