My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Paris Red, a novel by Maureen Gibbon and published by W.W Norton and Company is an interesting read. It is told from the point of view of a poor, 17 year old girl in 1862, who works in a silver polishing factory. She enters into a love triangle with her roommate and a man they meet on the street.
They play a little game of you touch her and then touch me for several chapters, before she leaves her roommate, and joins the man in his studio. He is a painter; an Artist, who ends up being Edouard Manet. Manet was a French painter during 19th century.
Manet’s painting, Olympia, caused great controversy when it was painted. In Paris Red, the story teller is that of his muse, Victorine Meurent. Olympia is a striking nude panting. It was unlike anything that had been painted before it.
In order to understand Paris Red, the reader has to understand a little about Manet and his famous work. It took until the end of the novel to understand who was who. I also had to use Google, because the novel does not come out and say who the young painter is for most of the book.
This is a fictional account of the relationship between Manet and Meurent. It read a lot like another book, and might have been called Fifty Shades of Paris Red, due to its content. This novel contains graphic sex including, some eyebrow raising acts that might shock those not expecting it. The vibe is similar to the other book mention; a relationship between a man and woman, based on sex, lust and control.
Paris Red is not for the modest. If the reader did not like Fifty Shades of Grey, they may not like this book, either.
What I didn’t like about Paris Red is pretty easy to guess. I dislike the over sexual nature of the book. I wish the author had included more history of the man. Instead, Manet remains a mystery for most of the book. There were a couple of sexual parts that didn’t need to be explained in such detail. I really wanted the story of them and not just some repeat of another book. I disliked how his muse was so greedy that she left her roommate; who was supposed to be part of this relationship. He had wanted both of them in the beginning. I also, found myself skipping the excessive sex to find the story.
What I did like about it was the way it flowed. Paris Red is told from the point of view of his muse. The detail in which the author describes each person and object is amazing. The novel is sensual at times and beautiful. The details of the two girl’s living area and working conditions were amazing. It brought me to tears.
Overall, this is as intense as the back cover suggests it is. It is a striking erotic work, loosely based on Manet and his muse. I enjoyed the book, once I understood the history of Manet.
A big thanks to Maureen Gibbon, the author, the publisher and Goodreads for allowing me to review this gem.
Disclaimer: This book was won after entering a contest on Goodreads 1st reads.