Title: The Yellow House
Author: Jeroen Blokhuis
Format: Print copy mailed by publisher in exchange for an honest review
My rating: 3/5
The Yellow House, by Jeroen Blokhuis, paints a fictional picture of Vincent van Gogh’s life between August 1888 and December 1889 when he lived in Arles in Southern France and where he created many of his masterpieces.
In his debut novel Jeroen Blokhuis tells the story from van Gogh’s point of view, from inside his mind, providing a fresh and revealing look at how this intriguing painter worked.
The Vincent in this novel very much tries to fit in, but is often baffled by how people react. Almost as if he can only express himself through his paintings, which in turn flummox the public. In one scene people literally turn up to see Vincent and Gauguin paint Marie Ginoux, but he, Vincent, is just concerned about creating a good painting.
The author’s note says a lot about the reaction to this novella – “The Vincent in this novel very much tries to fit in, but is often baffled by how people react. It is almost as if he can only express himself through his paintings, which in turn flummox the public”. Being inside the mind of one of the greatest painters was intriguing and for the most part entertaining. We are able to discern the internal struggles as Van Gogh interprets reality and the 2-dimensional canvas world. With Gauguin by his side for most of the novella, there is an inherent sense of competition between the two and not only in artwork but with social life and women. The images described here are easy to determine a sense of jealousy and potentially self-pity and comparison. This work can be digested by all levels of art history knowledge, however, I did feel that knowing more about Van Gogh’s overall life would help understand this snapshot of the painter.
Quotes that stuck out:
“We’re sitting here, in hiding, each in our own way. It is difficult, the most difficult thing there is, to start a new life. I want to say that to her, because she’s sitting there thinking up ways out and fantasising about where she could go. It’s the most difficult thing there is, but you might succeed” (Blokhuis 61)
“When you die. Then everything flows back and give form to. But they are so fleeting, your memories, your place among people, you’ve always seen it the wrong way, that’s how it is your whole life. That’s how you die” (Blokhuis 79)
Read The Yellow House if you like the themes of:
- Art History