Book Review: Monet & Oscar

Book: Monet & Oscar: The Essence of Light 

Author: Joe Byrd

Genre: Historical Fiction, Drama, Romance, Fiction

Review Copy: Reedsy

Available at:

Recommended: Must Read!

A young American, the son of an accomplished landscape designer in San Francisco, returns to his country of birth to fight for France during World War I. Recovering from battle scars after the war, he finds himself in the employment of none other than Claude Monet. From here begins an enthralling tale of history, flirtations, love, passion, art, and questionable past choices.

A potpourri of references to American, Japanese, and French culture merge in a storyline that navigates the life of Monet and Oscar. Japanese wood blocking, landscaping, gardening, Impressionist art to Monet’s illustrious life as a painter, Joe Byrd has written an enchanting historical fiction. The author’s passion for the subject and meticulous research of 30 years gleam through engrossing narration.

The reader must sit back and relish the charms of the cobbled roads along the Seinne, Vernon, Lyon, and Giverny, the fresh sea air, the architecture, the train rides, the walks and picnics, the nostalgia, references to French couture, and the delicate as well as exquisite culinary delights of the time. Monet’s garden is described as “…the best private Garden in France, perhaps in all of Europe.” Amidst all this beauty, we have a young man brimming with questions and an aged, sometimes “gruff” and “grouchy” artist on a journey of reminiscence. 

The book offers insight into people, their hardships, but most importantly about relationships that evolve amidst eccentricities and awkwardness. The characters have a connection that runs far back than they have personally known each other. Intrigue and questions fill the pages. Even halfway through, the conflict and the suspense do not become blunt. Oscar’s passionate liaison with a young lady has a Mills and Boons feel to it. 

I am glad to read this book and recommend it to all lovers of historical fiction and Impressionist art. It reminded me of another of my favorite historical fiction – Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. The chapters flow seamlessly, introducing new characters, adding layers to a fascinating tale, intercepted only by the evocation of picturesque surroundings and the confusion and pining of a lonely, young man. Drama, romance, mystery; you have it all in a well-edited book with eloquent prose. Sample this – “The stalks were months from bowing their heavy heads with the weight of golden grains of harvest time.” Want to read more? Grab your copy.

Published by Aneesha Shewani

I am just ME … a soul streaming across constellations, over eons of turbulent changes and tranquil noises, perturbed by the visions that engulf me and ruffled by the oft complacence that challenges the change. Yet, I must travel further across the galaxies, in search of the ultimate metamorphosis. Until then, I sojourn in this life, engrossed in my earthly callings of a wife, mother, professional, writer, dreamer, and seeker. On this blog you will find a spectrum of fiction, poetry, reviews, thoughts, snippets, inspiration, experiences, voices, concerns, excerpts, and everything that the soul has gathered in her fold, over years of reading, searching, finding, losing, and discovering. I regularly indulge in various creative pursuits, like crochet, experimental cooking, reading, and writing, and I hold a managerial/editorial role in a financial services organization with a global footprint. For a long time, social media hijacked my personal writing space, as I was sharing more on Facebook and writing Tweet-sized poetry on Twitter. Social media is instant but temporary gratification. Ultimately, a writer needs their own space, and personal blogging provides that space. I had started a blog more than a decade ago but all things need to be infused with new life, emerge in a new avatar, and so it is with my new blog space. Let your love and encouragement pour into Blue Pen Strokes. Check out Aneesha Shewani (@tweetoeuvre): 

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