This book paints a colorful picture of a special work of art and opened my eyes to periods of art, history and culture I was unaware of. We see the power the painting has over relationships and the trouble it causes, but also the pleasure it brings too. Lilianne’s passion for this piece and its story had me fascinated.
Lilianne Milgrom set out to tell the story of L'Origine, and throughout this novel you come to understand that this painting is indeed the protagonist of the book. Milgrom's descriptions were wonderful, and I felt I could really see, smell, and hear what it could have been like in 19th century France or war-torn Hungary or post-war Paris. A very interesting book, best appreciated by art and history lovers, or perhaps someone who wants a glimpse of a secret side of France.
Milgrom opens with a prologue that puts her in the story as the first artist permitted by the Orsay Museum to be a copiste of Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine, an audacious and explicit painting of a nude model. She includes some of what I love to come across in fiction: insider information. Milgrom follows the painting from its inception in 1865 and makes its owners real people with delights and fears, often struggling to explain life’s mysteries. Courbet created something so masterfully portrayed that it stopped all who saw it in their tracks. The book is also a love story that involves the author’s fascination with Courbet’s masterpiece.
L’Origine presents the journey of Courbet’s scandalous painting from its first imagining, through creation in 1866, and to its various owners. This fictional account of how the painting came to be displayed and viewed by more than a million visitors a year at the Orsay Museum was a highly satisfying story. Beginning with the author’s artist residency in Paris, the trip back through time was both magical and eye-opening. There are some excellent, thought-provoking questions for discussion at the end of the book.
L’Origine by Lilianne Milgrom is a work of fiction based on the author’s fastidious research about the harrowing journey of Gustave Courbet’s painting through the centuries and across continents. As the author concludes in her Epilogue letter addressed to the painting: You taught me to be fearless in my art and to follow my heart. And you proved to me once again that art speaks a universal language. The author has certainly embarked on an adventure. Her fiction is definitely an excellent read for readers who are interested in art and history. L’Origine is indeed a fascinating read. Splendid.
Lilianne Milgrom’s L’Origine is a sweeping historical enterprise tracing the life of the main character, an erotic painting by Gustave Courbet, a controversial figure in the Parisian nineteenth century art scene. In the prologue the author herself assumes the role of both narrator and main character. Enhanced by the backdrop of Parisian life, the novel’s other characters, though never the full focus of the author, are a fascinating lot. The novel is definitely worth a read.
Artist Liliane Milgrom is as deft with a pen as a paintbrush. I don’t know which element of L’Origine I enjoyed the most: the eye-opening, autobiographical prologue that gives an insight into being an artist and copyist, the narrative fictional recreation of the painting’s creation, the portrayal of the Parisian art scene, the peeks into the lives of the main characters we meet or the glimpses of how art dealing works. Each aspect of the book is richly detailed and riveting. Milgrom has an inviting, easy-to-read style and I’m rather hoping Ms. Milgrom will write another novel soon!
I had a chance to pull back the curtains of the art world in the novel L'Origine by Lilianne Milgrom. The novel explores the life of the painting L'Origine du Monde by French artist Gustave Courbet. Not familiar with the painting? Neither was I, but don't look it up. Wait until after you've read the book. The author did a good job creating historic scenes and characters as she kept the painting at the center of the world events; through World Wars and fallen governments, the hidden painting continued to exist in secret. This book was a smart read with good continuity and writing that kept me hooked. It definitely made me curious about the painting and I'll make a beeline to see it next time I'm in Paris.