Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Sunflowers by Sheramy Bundrick

Posted by Teddyrose@1 on November 2, 2009
Posted in Books Read in 2009Historical FictionSheramy Bundrick  | 9 Comments

Rachel, a young prostitute enjoys the peace and beauty of the city garden in Arles. She falls asleep there and when she awakes, she finds a man sketching her. He turns out to be none other than Vincent Van Gogh. After their first encounter, Vincent visits Rachel at her brothel, 1, Rue du Bout d’Arles. He comes with a bouquet of wild flowers in hopes of convincing Rachel to let him paint her. This is the start of their romantic relationship.
As Rachel’s love for Vincent deepens, her friend from 1, Rue du Bout d’Arles, Francois warns her not to get pulled in. She questions Vincent’s love for Rachel and worries that Rachel is being set up for disappointment and possible ruin. Yes ruin, Rachel could be thrown out of the brothel and it’s protection and be out on the street.
Vincent does seem to love Rachel however , he is supported financially by his brother Theo and does not think that he or his family would approve of the relationship. As Rachel and Vincent’s love deepens Vincent all of a sudden goes mad. He comes to the brothel to give Rachel “a gift”, part of his ear that he cut off. Vincent ends up going into a hospital, where Rachel isn’t able to see him very often. From then on he gets better for awhile and then relapse often. Eventually the mental illness Vincent suffers forces him to leave town to get better treatment. Will Rachel and Vincent’s love endure this separation? Read the book and find out.
Sheramy Bundrick writes in first person narrative with Rachel being the narrator. I loved how Bundrick takes Rachel, a little known person and writes an entire book about her. Her beautiful prose describes Van Gogh’s paintings so well that I could picture them in my head.
Bundrick weaves a good tale of romance between Rachel and Vincent but after awhile I found the relationship monotonous. Rachel seemed to have a lot of freedom to come and go from the brothel. She went where and when she wanted to go and I question how realistic this is. Some of the women in the brothel are written as either really good or really bad, hardly any in-between which, also seems unrealistic to me. I also would have liked to have had more of 1889 Aries to bring more of the historical into it.
Once Vincent’s first bought with illness comes, I found that the book picked up and I especially enjoyed the last few chapters. If you love historical romance, you will probably enjoy this book.
Thanks to Sheramy Bundrick for sending me this book. Sheramy did a guest post back in August on my blog, here.
Copyright 2007-2010: All the posts within this blog were originally posted by Teddy Rose and should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The World of What If by Sheramy Bundrick

Posted by Teddyrose@1 on August 31, 2009
Posted in Guest AuthorHistorical FictionSheramy Bundrick  | 4 Comments

Suppose you’re an art historian, and you write nonfiction. Suppose you’re studying Vincent van Gogh, and you know that he was acquainted with a prostitute named Rachel in 1888 Provence. That for some reason he cut off part of his ear and gave it to her. Who was this girl? How well did Vincent know her? Was he just a customer, or was their relationship something more? If you’re writing nonfiction, you can only go so far, then you have to stop. Ultimately you must admit that neither you nor anyone else will ever know the truth of Vincent and Rachel.
But if you’re writing a novel — if you’re writing historical fiction — “we’ll never know” quickly transforms into “what if?” The doors that seemed closed can be thrown wide open, your imagination can roam freely, and the mysteries big and small that make scholars shrug can become your blank canvas. I’m an art historian by trade and a longtime van Gogh fangirl, and one day, after an evocative visit to Auvers-sur-Oise in France (where Vincent is buried), I thought to myself “what if?” What if Vincent was hiding something from his brother Theo all those months in Provence? What if Rachel and Vincent were more than just prostitute and customer? What if … ?
I spent many months writing Sunflowers, during which I immersed myself in Vincent’s artwork, his letters, and the plethora of van Gogh scholarship. I stood before his paintings in museums; I traveled to France and the Netherlands and walked in his footsteps. Historical novelists, for all their freedom and what-if’ing, still have an enormous responsibility, especially when writing about an actual historical figure. I couldn’t just change the facts of Vincent’s life on a whim to suit my plot, and I needed to build the fictional story on a solid historical framework. Luckily there was no shortage of research to work with: we know the ground plan and measurements of Vincent’s famous yellow house in Arles, the sites of most paintings he painted and where he must have been standing, even the weather on specific days he was out working. Yet there is plenty we don’t know — and that’s where “what if” came into play. I admit, sometimes I wondered if what I was imagining could have actually happened!
It’s a magical thing, “what if.” For a historical novelist, it might be the most powerful phrase in our arsenal of words — it’s our Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo, our Open Sesame. It leads us places we never expected, and hopefully, it brings our readers along for the ride.
Sunflowers is Sheramy Bundrick’s first novel and will be released on 13 October 2009 from Avon-A/HarperCollins.

Copyright 2007-2010: All the posts within this blog were originally posted by Teddy Rose and should not be reproduced without express written permission.