Monday, September 8, 2014

MADAME PICASSO by Anne Girard: Review & GIVEAWAY

Author: Anne Girard
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Published by Harlequin MIRA
Formats: eBook, Paperback, 432 pages 
Genre: Historical Fiction
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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About the book

The mesmerizing and untold story of Eva Gouel, the unforgettable woman who stole the heart of the greatest artist of our time.

When Eva Gouel moves to Paris from the countryside, she is full of ambition and dreams of stardom. Though young and inexperienced, she manages to find work as a costumer at the famous Moulin Rouge, and it is here that she first catches the attention of Pablo Picasso, a rising star in the art world.

A brilliant but eccentric artist, Picasso sets his sights on Eva, and Eva can't help but be drawn into his web. But what starts as a torrid affair soon evolves into what will become the first great love of Picasso's life.

With sparkling insight and passion, Madame Picasso introduces us to a dazzling heroine, taking us from the salon of Gertrude Stein to the glamorous Moulin Rouge and inside the studio and heart of one of the most enigmatic and iconic artists of the twentieth century.

My Review

A consuming and intense read, as it can be expected from a novel based on the love life of the most extraordinary artist of the 20th century: Pablo Picasso.

Founder of the avant-garde artistic movement known as Cubism, the Andalusian painter depicted reality from a multiplicity of viewpoints: he chose a subject, he analyzed it, dissected it, and reproduced it on canvas in the abstract form of simultaneous perspectives.  Art critic John Berger identified the essence of Cubism in these words --  "The metaphorical model of Cubism is the diagram: the diagram being a visible symbolic representation of invisible processes, forces, structures." Picasso's life, moods, sensuality, obsessions, ideological questions are symbolized in his art, but they are hidden in the allegorical and distorting mirror of broken images.

In those invisible aspects of reality, in those hidden patterns of the artist's life, Anne Girard found the narrative power source for her novel, Madame Picasso.  The story's concern with the untold truths about Picasso's inspirational muse and lover, Eva Gouel, is heartfelt and soul-stirring: it shows in Girard's atmospheric and moving prose, in her evocative and visually accurate descriptions, in the narrative framework that is as historically sound as it is  imaginatively vivid.

Picasso was famed for honing his lover skills on a copious number of women: the frantic and ambivalent nature of his artwork extended to other areas of his life, bringing the alluring quality of his brooding sensuality from the canvas to his personal affairs. Girard's historical novel immortalizes the avant-garde artist in a turn-of-the-century Paris (1911-1914), when his stardom was on a consistent rise and his love life was on a turbulent path with married and statuesque Fernande Olivier. A fortuitous encounter with Moulin Rouge costumer, Eva Gouel,  left an indelible mark on the existence and artistic inspiration of the bohemian painter and sculptor. Strangely enough, Eva became the subject of several Picasso's Cubist works, but among his classically sketched portraits there is no trace of her. What the author argues with the lush and shimmering strokes of her pen, is that the innocent and petit country girl with massive blue eyes, auburn hair, fiery and independent heart, might just have been the biggest love of his life, and that Picasso's devotion and desire to protect her, through their most incandescent love trysts as well as during the darkest hours of her life, are concealed behind his enigmatic creations.

The seductive and intellectually pulsing environment complementing the love story is portrayed with a plethora of historical references to the remnants of La Belle Epoque (the bohemian poets, the literary salons, Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Gertrude Stein, Alice Toklas, the Salon des Independants, the Moulin Rouge) that beautifully enhance the unrestrained and sweeping nature of Eva and Picasso's relationship.

"For many of us, conformity is impossible."

***Review copy graciously offered by the Publicist in exchange for an unbiased and honest opinion.

One paperback copy of Madame Picasso is up for grabs! Please, become a follower of this blog (GFC or Bloglovin), and leave a comment below, including your email address, for a chance to win. The contest is open to US residents only. Good luck!

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Praise for Madame Picasso

"Early twentieth century Paris and Picasso's lost love come to enchanted, vivid life in Madame Picasso. With a deft eye for detail and deep understanding for her protagonists, Anne Girard captures the earnest young woman who enthralled the famous artist and became his unsung muse." - C.W. Gortner, bestselling author of THE QUEEN'S VOW

Buy the Book

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About the Author

Anne Girard was born with writing in her blood. The daughter of a hard-driving Chicago newsman, she has always had the same passion for storytelling that fueled his lifelong career. She hand-wrote her first novel (admittedly, not a very good one) at the age of fourteen, and never stopped imagining characters and their stories. Writing only ever took a backseat to her love of reading.

After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature from UCLA and a Master's degree in psychology from Pepperdine University, a chance meeting with the acclaimed author, Irving Stone, sharply focused her ambition onto telling great stories from history with detailed research. "Live where your characters lived, see the things they saw," he said, "only then can you truly bring them to life for your readers." Anne took that advice to heart. After Stone's encouragement twenty years ago, she sold her first novel. When she is not traveling the world researching her stories, Anne and her family make their home in Southern California. When she is not traveling or writing, she is reading fiction.

Anne also writes historical fiction under the name Diane Haeger. For more information, visit You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Madame Picasso Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 25

Tuesday, August 26
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Wednesday, August 27
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Interview & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Notebook

Thursday, August 28
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace
Review & Giveaway at Kinx's Book Nook

Friday, August 29
Review at Scandalous Women

Monday, September 1
Review at A Bookish Affair
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, September 2
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, September 3
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing

Thursday, September 4
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden's Court

Friday, September 5

Monday, September 8
Review at Book of Secrets
Review & Giveaway at Mina's Bookshelf

Tuesday, September 9
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, September 10
Review at Books in the Burbs

Thursday, September 11

Friday, September 12

Monday, September 15
Review at Layered Pages
Review at Carole's Ramblings

Tuesday, September 16

Wednesday, September 17
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Thursday, September 18
Review at One Book of a Time

Friday, September 19
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Monday, September 22
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, September 23

Wednesday, September 24

Thursday, September 25
Review at Kincavel Korner

Friday, September 26
Interview at Kincavel Korner

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  1. A captivating and fascinating book which interests me greatly. Thanks for this wonderful giveaway. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  2. Thanks for the wonderful review and giveaway, Mina—this sounds like an intoxicating read!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  3. Picasso was a genius and gave us some of the most interesting works of art. Would love to learn more about his life. SuzyQ4PR at aol dot com

  4. Your great review for this feature was excellent. Picasso was larger than life as an artist and individual. Many thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. This sounds very intriguing, I love historical fiction! ipanemario @ sbcglobal . net

  6. I love learning about Picasso and love historical fiction. I visited his home in Montmartre some years ago. Unfortunately, I was only able to see the outside of it.

  7. I love learning about Picasso and love historical fiction. I visited his home in Montmartre some years ago. Unfortunately, I was only able to see the outside of it.
    alto1jr @ hotmail dot com

  8. Love Picasso's work would love to read this.