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A Must Read Book about Vincent Van Gogh Called Sunflowers by Sheramy Bundrick

“Sunflowers” is loosely based historical fiction book about Vincent Van Gogh, the Dutch post-impressionism painter . The author, Sheramy Bundrick , who is also a professor in Art History, chooses to focus on the last two years of Van Gogh’s life. The setting is the small village of Arles in Provence.

Interestingly, Bundrick chooses to tell the story of Van Gogh from the perspective of Rachel, the prostitute. In a bout of madness, Van Gogh gifted Rachel with the part of his ear lobe that he cut off.

Apart from this piece of information, not much else is known about Rachel. This provides Bundrick with some latitude to imagine who Rachel was and her relationship with the artist.

The book about Vincent Van Gogh through the eyes of Rachel, a prostitute & his lover

The author depicts Rachel as a devoted and loving companion to Vincent. Even though everyone in Arles calls Van Gogh crazy, Rachel loves him. All she wants is to marry him, take care of him and have a family.  However, as much we hope that she can attain this, we know that their relationship is doomed from the start.

Van Gogh’s Paintings Come Alive

Vincent Van Gogh, in reality, put his heart and soul into his beautiful paintings. As Bundrick builds her story around these artworks. you will find yourself constantly googling these artworks on the internet.  The author wonderfully provides you with lots of background about each of these very famous paintings. Bundrick makes their creation come alive! It is fascinating!

Sunflowers - Van Gogh Painting
Sunflowers by Van Gogh, 1888, Arles

The Letters Written Between the Van Gogh Brothers

Sheramy Bundrick also bases her novel on letters written between Vincent and his brother Theo. Most of the chapters in this novel start with a quote from one of these letters. The author then adds an imaginary dimension to this book by imaging letters between Vincent and Rachel.

Vincent Van Gogh Portrait of Paul Gauguin (painted in Arles, 1888)
Vincent Van Gogh Portrait of Gauguin (painted in Arles, 1888)

Van Gogh & Absinthe

When Paul Gauguin comes to Arles to stay with Van Gogh, the two artists spend a lot of their time painting together and drinking the potent alcoholic drink, Absinthe.  

Even though there is strong evidence that Van Gogh suffered with a bipolar mental disorder, there are also theories that his continued use of Absinthe also precipitated his mental breakdowns. According to the author, Van Gogh used both alcohol and painting to sooth his mind from the demons in his mind.

The book Sunflowers allows you to get a peek into the last two years of Van Gogh’s emotionally turbulent but incredibly prolific period in his life.  The author provides us with an understanding of the significant people in his life who both influenced and loved him.  She turns Vincent into a person that we can both understand and empathize with.

Let me know what you thought of this novel. I look foward to hearing from you.

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A Sensitive Book about Vincent Van Gogh, his Tragic Life & His Beautiful & Misunderstood Art

While reading Sunflowers, you will feel like you are being transported into the colorful brushstrokes and swirls of Vincent’s most famous paintings. It is a wonderful but incredibly sad journey.

For more wonderful books about Vincent Van Gogh check out the links below: