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A Novel About Monet’s early years through the eyes of Claude Monet’s wife, Camille Doncieux

Stephanie Cowell portrays in her novel Claude & Camille, the story about Claude Monet, through the eyes of his first wife, Camille Doncieux. It is a wonderful book.

A Novel about Monet & his first wife Camille Doncieux
A Novel about Monet & his first wife, Camille Doncieux

So who was Camille Doncieux?

Camille was Claude Monet’s first wife. She was a romantic teenager who fell in love with Monet, even though he was seven years older than her.

Camille’s middle-class parents did not approve of her marrying a no-hoper artist. But Camille loved him and gave up her privileged life to marry Monet. Camille remained devoted to Monet despite their many hardships.

A Claude Monet painting of Camille (Doncieux) Monet
A Claude Monet painting of Camille (Doncieux) Monet & their son

The Young & Unknown Artist & His Radical Friends

Today, Claude Monet is incredibly famous. Billions of people across the globe study, view and love his colorful impressionism paintings. It is almost unfathomable to imagine that it wasn’t always like this!

Claude & Camille takes place in Monet’s younger years when he was still a struggling and unknown artist. During these years, Monet was experimenting with a new form of art. He was also spending time with other like-minded artists such as Renoir, Cezanne, Degas & Manet . This was way before, they were called the “impressionists”.

From this novel, you will read and learn how radical Claude Monet’s art was in the 19th century.  His colorful paintings with short, thick brush strokes defied all the rules of the time. This meant that the art world scorned Monet’s paintings and the Paris Salon refused to exhibit them. As a result, young Monet could barely make a living and struggled.

A Claude Monet painting of Camille (Doncieux) Monet
A Claude Monet painting of Camille (Doncieux) Monet

The Difficult Years of Monet’s Life were with his first wife, Camille Doncieux

These early years were very difficult and stressful for Claude Monet and his young wife, Camille. They could barely make ends meet financially. Camille often sat at home, cold and hungry. They lived in cheap rentals without heating.

More often than not, Camille sat at home waiting for Monet to return from a painting trip or exhibition. What other choice did she have in those days?

Monet felt constantly anxious and conflicted. However, he felt passionate about his art and refused to give up. On the other hand, he understood that could not provide for Camille. Ultimately, his art came before Camille.

Sadly, Claude Monet’s first wife, who stood by his side, never witnessed Monet’s eventual success.

Claude & Camille is a wonderful read that all lovers of French Impressionism art! Let me know what you think!

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