Monet & Oscar: The Essence of Light

The fourth member of the quartet talking about our books on a webinar this Saturday, May 8, 2021 (register and learn more here), is Joe Byrd.

Joe Byrd’s debut novel, Monet & Oscar, is a sweet tale of an American soldier, Oscar Bonhomme, and his search for his father, a man his recently deceased mother has only hinted about. He knows his father was an artist, an Impressionist, but he has precious little else to go on.

When fate brings Oscar, a career gardener, the opportunity to become artist Claude Monet’s gardener through his mother’s friend, Georges Clémenceau, Oscar’s life blooms as profusely as does Monet’s garden.

Oscar, a man of great integrity and honor, wants so badly the regard of a man who is a most respected artist to him, but he wonders – could the man be even more than that to him? Could he be his father? Monet is in his declining years, and Oscar is his eyes on more than one occasion, helping him set up his canvases so they will be hit with just the right light. This seems a metaphor as well for Oscar opening Monet’s eyes to the possibility of their greater relationship – are they indeed father and son?

On a train to Paris, he meets and falls for Isabelle. Immediately after their brief rendezvous, however, she leaves him for America and plans to marry someone else for money, a man from a powerful family who can give her what she wants – her own art show in Chicago.

Oscar himself can’t seem to let go of his feelings for Isabelle, but when he meets the pregnant widow of a fellow soldier, he can’t help both wanting to protect her and being attracted to her, despite her unremitting feelings for her dead husband.

Fate steps in once again and tragedy cements his and Isabelle’s relationship in an unexpected way, despite the initial signs and Isabelle’s insistence that they will never be together again.

Not only does Oscar’s relationship with Monet become clear, but his future reveals itself.

Replete with twists, with lovely scenes that could be mini paintings themselves, Byrd leaves his reader both satisfied but also wanting to know more about his characters, in real life and in fiction. For those who love art and fiction, or who can’t get enough of Monet and his world, this is a don’t-miss novel.

And please pop over and see us this Saturday!

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