My Blog: Artful Fiction

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!

Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne

Art and love both complete us and make us incredibly vulnerable, so reveals Linda Lappin’s tender, excellent novel Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne.

Moving deftly between the intriguing first-person account of the ghost of Jeanne Hébuterne, an artist and the common-law wife of Amedeo Modigliani who jumps out of a window two days after he dies, the diary she leaves behind, and the tale of an art scholar, this book captivates.

Part romance, part mystery, Lappin’s use of the supernatural creates an effective window into the life of both of these artists as well as sparking curiosity about the painter Manuel Ortiz de Zárate.  An art student in the 1980’s who is researching Ortiz stumbles upon so much more. Which describes perfectly what this book does: it uses its unconventional mode of storytelling to explore the deeper issues of life.

Lappin’s novel succeeds in “resurrecting” the artist Hébuterne through imagining her afterlife.

Looking at the paintings Hébuterne left behind, it is obvious that she and Modigliani influenced one another’s work. That there is this lost painting, a work of the two of them, in this novel, means there is, besides the biological daughter, another child of the two: the painting.

If you’ve ever been ill advisedly in love or if you have a deep connection with art, you will understand why it seems impossible for Hébuterne to leave Modigliani and yet you will want to warn her away during her diary entries before it’s too late. Alas, since we open on her after her death, we know it is too late. This, too, keeps us reading.

Lovingly told with evocative detail, it is difficult to avoid spoilers for this exquisite novel, so I will just add that it’s a fascinating, fast-paced, deeply felt novel.

Linda is one of the four of us who will be talking about our art-in-fiction books on May 8. Take a look at that post and sign up if you haven’t yet. It promises to be a great session. I’m looking forward to “meeting” these writers I’ve been emailing with all of this time. I hope to see you there!

French Artists in Fiction: Four Lives, Four Authors

It’s been such an exciting yet busy time that I neglected to share the last two stops of my virtual tour with their wonderful reviews. I’m so grateful for reviewers who spend their precious time not only reading but reviewing books. So many thanks to these latest reviewers for their kind words, both Unabridged Chick and ShreeWrites. And thanks again to Emma for arranging the tour. Great job, Emma!

Every time a review goes up I feel I’m getting the word out about artist Victorine Meurent just a little bit further. I’m humbled that so many of you love her as much as I do!

A quartet of writers (including moi) have started a collaboration of sorts. First up, our Lilianne Milgrom, artist and writer, has written a post for Bonjour Paris featuring our four art-in-fiction books. Isn’t she the best? Learn more about us and our books by reading her excellent article.

But wait, there’s more: the four of us will be talking about our books on this webinar hosted by Emma of France Book Tours. This international event (we have registrants from six countries thus far!) will be held May 8, 2021, at 11 AM Central time, and is FREE, so please register here. (Photo below courtesy of France Book tours. And I’m in sore need of an updated author photo — I plan on that this summer.)

Featured speakers:
Lilianne Milgrom, author of L’Origine
Linda Lappin, author of Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne
Drēma Drudge, author of Victorine
Joe Byrd, author of Monet & Oscar

The above links will take you to each of our tour pages, which also has our Amazon book links if you’d like to purchase the books ahead of time. Actually, this is Joe’s book launch, but he’s graciously allowing us to crash his party. Please join us!

In preparation for this call, I have been reading Linda and Joe’s books, and wow! And you already know I’ve read and loved Lilianne’s book, as I reviewed it a few months ago. I can’t wait for you to meet these books and these wonderful authors.

If you’re a fan of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch or the books of Susan Vreeland (how she is missed), this is a webinar for you. Hope to see you there!

“If art is for us all and about us all, why isn’t it by us all?” — Victorine

Today’s blog stop takes us to Bookish Ramblings. The headline of this post is a quote from Victorine the reviewer pulled out. I thought it fitting for today. Please stop over and enter the book giveaway and leave a comment. And many thanks to Bookish Ramblings!

Book reviewers are so important to books! They are unpaid warriors who read for the sheer love of it and sometimes a free copy of a book. By the time they read it and review it, they’ve invested hours. I don’t take that lightly. So thanks to everyone who has reviewed my book thus far!

The Railway by Edouard Manet, featuring Victorine Meurent.

I posted the above painting because I said today’s stop, as in on a blog tour, as if on a whistle stop train tour…:-) Too punny?

Happy Palm Sunday!

Thanks to What’sHerName Podcast for mentioning Victorine‘s painting Palm Sunday today on social media. Where was my brain? (Reading Joan Didion essays and filling out a fellowship application, that’s where. Oh, and emailing the dearest friends. Wait, I feel a You’ve Got Mail reference coming on… “Don’t you love email?” Yes, yes I do.)

There are so many lovely observations to be made about this painting by Victorine Meurent, Edouard Manet’s favorite model — the subtle colors (some of my fav), the knowing-yet-innocent model, the composition…

I could go on, and maybe I should. Maybe I will, another time. But as it’s past seven and my dearest is waiting so we can choose a movie (small screen, but still), I won’t go on tonight.

But do tell me your thoughts on Palm Sunday. It was her first rediscovered painting, and I thought it would be the only example of hers I would have as I wrote about her. You can imagine with what care I studied it.

Enter a Giveaway! Two Wonderful Victorine Shout-Outs Today!

Thank you so much to two sweet souls for helping get out the word about Victorine Meurent. First up, my gratitude to Amy over at Locks, Hooks, and Books. Please read her marvelous review of my novel, Victorine, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway while you’re there.

Okay, I have to share a sneak peek of her heartfelt review: “I loved being transported back in time to mid nineteenth century Paris. The historical details were so fascinating and vivid, I felt like I was right there taking in all the sights of the city.” Thank you, Amy. That warms my author’s heart.

Over on Instagram, Crystal Z. Lee, author of the vivid, vibrant Love and Other Moods, posted a fabulous photo and review of Victorine. She said I can share them over here.

“I gravitate towards books that transport, and Victorine–a historical literary novel–takes readers to France in the 19th century. It’s the story of a trailblazing female artist who defied the conventions of her time.”


“We know the woman on the cover of this book, even if we aren’t familiar with her name, Victorine Meurent. Her face and body had been immortalized by artist Edouard Manet in his world famous paintings Olympia, The Picnic In Paris, etc. I took several western art history courses in college, and remember seeing Manet’s work at the #museedorsay on my numerous business trips to #Paris later on. In Olympia, the nude model’s gaze is arresting. She makes you want to know more about her. But at the time, a woman like her received scant respect nor recognition. Her modeling for #Manet made his works world famous, but history hardly paid any attention or credit to his muse. Until now.”


“This book is truly a treasure just for the fact that author Drema Drudge’s thorough research uncovered Victorine Meurent’s forgotten paintings, and one of them is published for the very first time in her book.”


“If Victorine had lived in today’s era, she would’ve been celebrated; she overcame the odds of poverty, war, sexism… and went from being an artist’s muse to an artist in her own right. But because of the times she lived in, she was shunned, shamed, vilified. Still, she unapologetically lived for her art, for her love and passions.”


“This gem of a novel is for art aficionados, history buffs, francophiles, and anybody looking for a riveting read on a forgotten heroine.”

Wow, thank you, Crystal. I’m incredibly grateful for both your review and the creative, beautifully composed photo. My heart is full.

Thanks to both of these bookish, kind women for getting the word out. I truly appreciate it!

P.S. If you want a free historical fiction story from me, join my newsletter and I’ll hook you up!

Enter the Giveaway! Stop #1 on my France Book tour

I agree with Stephanie over at Books Are Cool that books are, well, cool. And if you go over there and read the excellent review (I’m so touched) she gave Victorine, you can also see how to enter the book giveaway that runs for my whole France Book Tour.

Victorine by Drema Drudge

Here’s a snippet of her wonderful review:

“This book is a wonderful illustration of all that’s best about the historical fiction literary genre.
The author has obviously done an immense amount of research into the period, the world of the artist and the persons she portrays. It’s detailed, compelling, but never overwhelming.Victorine is a multifaceted, excellent book, equal parts absorbing, educational and inspirational.”

Bloggers are such wonderful, selfless people. I’m grateful to them all. Thank you, Stephanie!

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention that TODAY is the official one-year anniversary of the release of Victorine. We have gone so many places virtually since then, and hope to go to more places in the “real” world in the coming year.

This date also marks the anniversary of Victorine Meurent’s death in 1927. When we set the release date, I didn’t make the connection.

It was (Is? My father has passed) also my parents’ anniversary. And, of course, St. Patrick’s Day. Coincidentally, this date is also my hubby’s stepmother’s birthday. (Happy Birthday, Mary!)

Anyway, thank you for being on this journey with me. Thank you for opening your arms to Victorine. Here’s to year two!

http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436945

A Spotlight on Victorine

As the celebration of the one-year anniversary/ebook release of Victorine continues, I am grateful to DK Marley over at The Hist Fic Chickie for shining a light on artist Victorine Meurent today. This is in conjunction with my author takeover of The Historical Fiction Club today. If you’re not a member, please stop over and ask to be added so that you can join in on the games, the conversation, and the giveaways!

This Wednesday, March 17, my France Book Tour kicks off, where Victorine will be featured on several stops. I hope you’ll join in.

P.S. While the ebook of Victorine is not up yet, it will be within a few days. (If you’re reading this past the week of March 17, 2021, it probably is up. Let’s hope I remember to edit this after it is available.)

Jup, by Victorine Meurent. #Love!

Let the One-Year Anniversary Celebration of Victorine Begin!

Good morning! The sun is shining, I saw a gorgeous cardinal this morning, and I am thrilled to announce that on the Diary of an Eccentric blog you can enter to win one of two ecopies of Victorine! (Did I mention you will be able to buy your OWN ecopy very soon? More on that soon!) Many thanks to Anna for hosting me over on her excellent blog.

Thus begins the celebration of the one-year anniversary of Victorine being reborn! Victorine Meurent was an artist and the favorite model of Edouard Manet, something she’s most often remembered for. But with my research bringing to light paintings of her long supposed lost, gradually she’s coming back to Herstory and I am thrilled to be a part of that process.

I hope you will stay tuned and join us join me as other celebrations are revealed, including a blog tour with France Book Tours (schedule here) and a takeover of a Facebook group Starting Monday, The Historical Fiction Club. If you are on Facebook, consider joining me. If you’re not a member of the group, just request to be. There will be behind-the-scenes info about my book, fun games, and giveaways. I’m looking forward to it.

And my newsletter subscribers get an extra special opportunity. (Hint: it involves swag!!) What’s that, you’re not a subscriber? Let’s fix that now. (When you subscribe, you also get a FREE historical fiction story about artists Olga Meerson and Henri Matisse and their alleged affair.) Alleged or not, at the very least it was complicated.

This has been a challenging year for all new novels. You should have seen me crossing out book appearance after book appearance from my planner. But I can’t feel too sorry for myself. For one thing, others had it so much worse. And I had all of these wonderful people helping me get the word out. And I am, as always, grateful for you!

http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436945

Help Make Victorine a Champion!

Spoiler alert: to me, Victorine is already a champ!

I certainly did not mean to write a post again so soon, but looky at what I just discovered! Victorine is going up against Sophie Scholl for What’sHerName’s Podcast’s Women’s History Month CHAMPION!

Won’t you consider voting for her? Go here: https://www.facebook.com/whatshernamepodcast/posts/2952601405061690. Or if you prefer, use this Twitter link: https://twitter.com/WhatsHerNamePC/status/1369709084170063874?s=20. I don’t think you have to be signed up to either to vote.

Let’s bring her back to Herstory in a big way!