Book Review: MADAME PICASSO by Anne Girard

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Released: August 26, 2014
Source: Review copy from the book tour company
Rating: ★★★★

The mesmerizing and untold story of Eva Gouel, the unforgettable woman who stole the heart of the greatest artist of our time.

When Eva Gouel moves to Paris from the countryside, she is full of ambition and dreams of stardom. Though young and inexperienced, she manages to find work as a costumer at the famous Moulin Rouge, and it is here that she first catches the attention of Pablo Picasso, a rising star in the art world.

A brilliant but eccentric artist, Picasso sets his sights on Eva, and Eva can’t help but be drawn into his web. But what starts as a torrid affair soon evolves into what will become the first great love of Picasso’s life.

With sparkling insight and passion, Madame Picasso introduces us to a dazzling heroine, taking us from the salon of Gertrude Stein to the glamorous Moulin Rouge and inside the studio and heart of one of the most enigmatic and iconic artists of the twentieth century.

MADAME PICASSO is an enthralling fictional account of the brief but passionate love affair between Pablo Picasso and his muse, Eva Gouel. I chose to read this book because I’m drawn to novels set in the early 20th century, and the author did a masterful job transporting readers to Paris near the end of the Belle Époque. This was a grand time when art and literature flourished, until World War I dramatically altered the tone of the city.

Very little is known about the real Eva Gouel, an unassuming seamstress at the Moulin Rouge who became Picasso’s infatuation in 1911. I enjoyed Eva’s character in this book. She had great spirit and determination, and she made a huge impact on Picasso, both the man and his art. It was also interesting to see a vulnerable, compassionate side of Picasso portrayed. Eva and Picasso’s love story was bittersweet, and I had tears in my eyes while reading the last couple of chapters.

MADAME PICASSO is an unforgettable story filled with an array of colorful characters – artists, poets, intellectuals – living during that time. I’d definitely recommend this book to art history buffs and historical fiction fans.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the book tour company in exchange for an honest review.