Netherlands

“Where are we going next, anyone?”

“Spain?” someone shouts from further back in the room.

“That was a confident call. I applaud your confidence, even if it is widely misjudged.”

“I’ve forgotten the order!” says Judith, but she picks up The Yellow House anyway and says “We are going to the Netherlands”

“So the author of this book has a name that I’m not sure how to pronounce, but I’m going to give it a go. Perhaps someone can correct me? I think it’s: Jeroen Blokhuis. Maybe next time we could make sure we have someone in the room from every country to make sure we pronounce things right.”

Scott thinks that would be a great idea for next year, but Judith then realises that she’d probably end up being the one who had to organise it, so we move swiftly on. “This lovely book is called The Yellow House: A Novel About Vincent van Gogh.”

Obviously it’s about the great painter – we’ve all heard the stories, we all know about the ear. But what Jeroen does, in a beautiful way, gives us a fictional account of the mind of Van Gogh. He turns the enigma into a man of flesh and blood and gives these little vignettes of what Vincent might have thought about the world around him.

Set in France in the 1800s, the book explores Van Gogh’s doubts about his art, and his own mental health problems and insecurities. But also, it shows us what a beautiful mind he probably had to create such amazing paintings.

It shows us that a lot of the creative genius probably comes at a high cost to your own personal life. It talks about the relationships he has with other painters, who are his friends and yet he cannot help but feel paranoid about what they think of him and his art. There are people in the village that support him, and try to help him through his mental health issues, but there are also some who are very hostile towards him.

“If you like Van Gogh, and if you love to explore the things that guide artists to create beautiful works of art, then this is a wonderful book.”

 

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