Book Review: "Sacre Bleu" by Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore at a book signing
Courtesy of Cody Harris
If you know who Christopher Moore is, you probably know that he is a bit of a zany author. He has done such things to characters as have them traumatized by the penis of a whale on open water, chastised by Jesus, beset by a demon with anger issues and assaulted by zombies accidentally raised from the dead by an angel sent to Earth to perform a miracle. So, you know that when I opened "Sacre Bleu," I knew what I had in store, but I still managed to be pleasantly surprised a bit.

I think the cast of characters in Sacre Bleu was the best surprise of the book. I didn't think I'd be reading a book populated by painters of Vincent van Gogh's era, including van Gogh himself, but only briefly. Nonetheless, that is what I got. Initially, I thought the book was just about blue and that the paint aspect of it was going to go away, but it turned out that "Sacre Bleu" is about a special blue powder that is, in this case, used to make paint. To say much more about it would be to give it away.

In spite of the title, it is not the blue that intrigues the readers but rather the characters, more of them syphilitic than I had ever imagined. You may learn a few things about period artists that you did not know, but, of course, this is a fictional work, so if something strikes you as interesting, use a second source. You may find that the weirdest tidbits, such as van Gogh eating paint, are actually true.

As for the plot, tone, etc. of "Sacre Bleu," this is classic Christopher Moore. There is humor, sarcasm and debauchery. It isn't so much the solid or even entertaining nature of the plot that keeps you reading. (Hint: The plot isn't all that great standing apart from Moore's fantastic wit.) What keeps the pages turning are the little intrigues, dialogues, asides and jokes. Any other story about blue paint would likely be dull, but like an additional gospel for the Bible, Christopher Moore manages never to let a single dull moment into this novel.

Shelly Barclay

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