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Let Me Tell You About a Man I Knew

by Susan Fletcher

The man in the title is Van Gogh, but the story belongs to the narrator, wife to the Saint-Paul asylum warden. Jeanne's meeting with Vincent when he's a patient there stirs up longing for a different life. Look for her portrait on line – you will see an ordinary woman, a life limited by circumstance. I'm sure she's no different to many then or now and her feelings may be familiar to you. A beautiful novel with real soul.


Extract

Jeanne shifts. 'What about Les Antiques? They're not far. I could show them to you. They're Roman remains - a tower that was a mausoleum, and an archway too. Weathered of course, and they used to be whiter than they were now but they're still very beautiful. You could paint them.'
'I don't want to paint them.'
'Why not?'
'I told you: I don't paint dukes or duchesses. I've no interest in painting what others have seen and admired. I'll paint what others don't look at. A street. The backs of things.'
'Like the moth.' She tries to smile at him.
'You know Les Alyscamps? I painted them, And when I painted them, I painted what I saw, which was the graves and the trees, the railway works beside them. Gaugin didn't paint the railway works. He painted a fiction, a falseness.' Spits.

Parallels

Leaving Van Gough by Carol Wallace
  • Starry Starry Night - song by Don McLean
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