Leaving Van Gogh

My favorite "in the wild" sighting -- the end of the alphabet is such a great neighborhood!

My historical novel, Leaving Van Gogh, is available from AmazonPowellsBarnes & Noble and IndieBound. The Random House website is listing it, too. Or you could toddle into your local book store for a copy.

I’ve made a Facebook fan page: if you “like” the page, you’ll get updates on your FB page. There are lots of useful links on it, including one to the Random House Reader’s Guide. Book group alert!

And my own website is up: carolwallacebooks.com. The “Gallery” tab over there now shows you reproductions of the paintings discussed in Leaving Van Gogh, with page references. The “Gallery” tab here now contains only a link to that page — replicating the gallery here was just too daunting.

Kelly Konrad of makeitbetter.net includes LVG in a select group of summer reads. I’m flattered to be on the same list as Room and Bossypants!

Sarah Joyce on Loving Books weighs in. I do love book bloggers, don’t you?

Here’s a fun blog post; five novels about art, including LVG, of course. By Jean Graham on nj.com.

Cindy Conger of the Lincoln (NE) Journal Star liked Leaving Van Gogh.

Jennifer Donovan of 5MinutesforBooks calls Leaving Van Gogh “fantastic!” Oh, OK, I’ll go on: she also says, “I’ve come to terms with the fact that they can’t all be 5-Star Reads, but Leaving Van Gogh definitely is. Carol Wallace put me in Auvers in 1890. I felt as if I were there, or at the very least, reading Gachet’s own words and not a novelist’s interpretation of them. I knew how Vincent Van Gogh’s story ends, but Wallace’s storytelling had me poring over every detail and scene, wondering what would happen next.”

Excellent review from Brian Boucher in Art in AmericaHe said, “Wallace’s story brings the artist to life as a man tragically aware in his lucid moments of the untreatable nature of his illness.”  (Pretty sure this is the only time I will keep company with Jim Carroll.)

Linda Rimel called LVG “absorbing” in The Roanoke Times.

Those clever Satellite Sisters include LVG in the Best Beachbag Books roundup.

Another positive blog review from Bookin’ It — also on LibraryThing. Amanda Pape calls Leaving Van Gogh “fascinating” and “beautifully written,” and provides wonderful links. Very impressive!

Leaving Van Gogh on the website Van Gogh Gallery.

New review on the book blog curledup.com.

Here’s a nice Q&A on a NYC arts blog called hyperallergic.com, written by the lovely and intelligent (and Dutch!) Merel van Beeren.

I had a nice chat with Alexandra Cheney of the Wall Street Journal  and this was the result.

The Associated Press reviewed it on April 18, 2011. Key words here? “Intriguing novel …. sublime prose.”

Here’s a link to the Los Angeles Times review on April 8, 2011 which calls it “riveting” and “delightful.” 

Here’s a snippet from the March 1, 2011 Booklist review:

With profound empathy, compassion, and insight, Wallace fully inhabits both Vincent’s despondency and Gachet’s futility as they despair of a cure, pondering the ease with which a wound can be stitched versus the baffling maladies of the mind.”

Here is the copy from the flaps of the book jacket:

My private stash.

In the summer of 1890, in an empty wheat field in the French town of Auvers-sur-Oise, Vincent van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a revolver.  He died two days later, at the age of 37, largely unknown despite having completed over 2,000 works of art that would later go on to become some of the most important and valued in the world.

In Leaving Van Gogh, Carol Wallace brilliantly navigates the mysteries surrounding Van Gogh’s death, relying on meticulous research to paint an indelible portrait of the artist’s final days—and the friendship that may or may not have destroyed him.  Telling Van Gogh’s story from an utterly new perspective, from the point of view of his personal physician, Dr. Gachet, who was a pioneer in the humane treatment of the mentally ill and a great lover of the arts, Wallace allows us to view the legendary artist as we’ve never seen him before.  In our narrator’s eyes, Van Gogh is a formidable force, a man whose art is haunting, fierce, and brave, and whose mind, plagued by demons, is an irresistible puzzle, posing the most potentially rewarding challenge of the doctor’s career.

As we witness the two men grow closer—and as Gachet becomes increasingly enraptured by Van Gogh’s personality and his canvases—questions loom.  If Gachet was such a competent doctor, why did Van Gogh spiral so quickly into a depression that culminated in suicide?  And where did the destitute painter manage to find the gun with which he delivered that fatal shot?

A masterful, gripping novel that explores the price of creativity, Leaving Van Gogh is a luminous story about what it means to live authentically, and the power and limits of friendship.

And here are some generous quotes from early readers:

“A haunting novel of bold strokes and fine-grained gestures, one that resonates long after its last, luminous page.  In Carol Wallace’s masterful hands Van Gogh’s pictures spring to life every bit as brilliantly as does the painter himself.” —Stacy Schiff, author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov) and the upcoming Cleopatra: A Life

“Carol Wallace’s Leaving Van Gogh is an act of wondrous ventriloquism not to be missed: the last months of Vincent Van Gogh’s life, narrated by the mysterious and marvelous Dr. Gachet, Van Gogh’s physician, and a tale of love, of madness, of art– and of genius and grief– told with the tender courage of a good friend.” — Brenda Wineapple, author of White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson

“This sensitively written novel, with its many passages of deep beauty and insight, reveals the tragic Van Gogh as clearly as if he sat across your room. Told by the aging doctor who wants to rectify the one great failure of his own life by saving the distraught artist who perhaps does not wish to be saved, Leaving Van Gogh is a moving and profound book about the preciousness of the gifts of art and love and what we can mean to each other.”—Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude & Camille: a novel of Monet

“Beautifully textured, painterly, and insightful – reading this book is like stepping into one of Van Gogh’s paintings.”—Rebecca Stott , author of Ghostwalk and The Coral Thief

“A rich, meticulously researched novel that probes the passion of genius, and the demands of love and friendship. With a painterly eye, Wallace translates Van Gogh’s dazzling canvases into luminous prose and lets the reader see the universe as the great Impressionist did.” –Ellen Feldman, author of Lucy and Scottsboro: A Novel

“Carol Wallace’s new novel is a wonderfully rich exploration of the deep interconnectedness of art and madness, friendship and therapy, hope and despair.  And through Wallace’s estimable talent, Vincent Van Gogh, one of the most fascinating figures in the history of any art form, acts and speaks and passionately lives with absolute authenticity.  Leaving Van Gogh is a remarkable imaginative achievement and an utterly compelling read.” –Robert Olen Butler, author of the Pulizer Prize winning A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

“How did Carol Wallace do this?  Her novel so thrillingly and compassionately illuminates the tragic life of Vincent Van Gogh that he is now lodged in my heart like a beloved lost relative.  I am awed and enthralled, and so grateful for this perfect blend of artistic authority and suberb storytelling. “ –Elinor Lipman, author of The Family Man, and Then She Found Me

12 Responses to Leaving Van Gogh

  1. Ginny Arndt says:

    Hi Carol – I can’t wait for your visit to Pequot Library in Southport, CT on April 17th – and to read your book. It sounds like a page turner. Ginny Arndt

  2. carolwallace says:

    Oh, Ginny! What fun to find you here! Yes, I’m really looking forward to my Pequot Library visit, too. It will be wonderful to be back in one of my favorite places in the whole world! Thanks —

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  4. Pingback: MostlyFiction Book Reviews » LEAVING VAN GOGH by Carol Wallace

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  6. I think the highest compliment I can pay you is that today I went to the Met Museum for the Alexander McQueen exhibit (spectacular, btw) and the first thing I did after a loooong (worthwhile) wait, was hightail it to the VanGogh section. I viewed the (too sparse!!) collection in a completely different way than I ever have before, and I have been to the Met many times!!!! For the first time, really with ANY art, I studied the brushwork and canvases up close, and really understood what was happening in the work. A patron remarked that I was really looking at the brushwork, and I used the opportunity to share what I learned in your book; I also recommended the book to several people standing on the McQueen line :)) I think the VanGogh collection got a boost today!

    While reading your book, I would also go right to the internet to look up the paintings that you were describing and it gave me a wonderful connection to the story. I realized after I found this site today that you have that all in one place!! :) Great idea :) As many posters on this and other sites have said, I would not consider myself well-versed in art history, but it is amazing how much more you can appreciate art with an interesting backstory and education!

    Thanks so much Carol Wallace, for bringing art into my life in a whole new way!!!

  7. carolwallace says:

    Wow, Jeanne, I am really honored. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. (And btw I saw the McQueen show twice, two days in a row, and I still think a lot about those clothes — but that’s a whole other story!) I am so glad you saw Vincent in a new way.

    I’m working on Manet now, so next time you go to the Met, linger in front of the “Lady with a Parrot” and think about the most dashing artist in Paris, and Berthe Morisot (there’s one of her portraits across the room). Manet painted her 11 times…. and then she

    Thanks again, Jeanne!

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  11. tina Urman says:

    Hello Carol
    Sitting here working on a review of your novel Leaving Van Gogh.
    I do contemporary reviews in a discusion format for various groups and institutions in Toronto. Often I look for a novel with an art element such as your as I will then support the review with images either through the use of power point or a gallery visit of art that relate to the book. Yours makes for this very perfect combination.

    • carolwallace says:

      Oh, how lovely, Tina! Lots of images out there for this one! With a VG painting at the AGO no less! Let me know if you’ve got questions — as it happens I am sitting here working on something unbelievably dull, & longing for distraction.

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