Leaving Van Gogh by Carol Wallace
A Novel

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Synopsis

In the summer of 1890, in the French town of Auvers-sur-Oise, Vincent van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a revolver.  He died two days later, at the age of thirty-seven, largely unknown despite having completed over two thousand works of art that would go on to become some of the most important and valued in the world.          

In this riveting novel, Carol Wallace brilliantly navigates the mysteries surrounding the master artist’s death, relying on meticulous research to paint an indelible portrait of Van Gogh’s final days—and the friendship that may or may not have destroyed him. Telling Van Gogh’s story from an utterly new perspective—that of his personal physician, Dr. Gachet, specialist in mental illness and great lover of the arts—Wallace allows us to view the legendary painter as we’ve never seen him before.  In our narrator’s eyes, Van Gogh is an irresistible puzzle, a man whose mind, plagued by demons, poses the most potentially rewarding challenge of Gachet’s career. 

Wallace’s narrative brims with suspense and rich psychological insight as it tackles haunting questions about Van Gogh’s fate. A masterly, gripping novel that explores the price of creativity, Leaving Van Gogh is a luminous story about what it means to live authentically, and the power and limits of friendship.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Carol Wallace

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Carol Wallace is the author of numerous books, including The Official Preppy Handbook, which she coauthored. Leaving Van Gogh is her first historical novel. A graduate of Princeton University, Wallace received a M.A. in art history from Columbia University in 2006. The research for her M.A. thesis provided the foundation for Leaving Van Gogh. Wallace lives in New York.
 
Published April 19, 2011 by Spiegel & Grau. 290 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Leaving Van Gogh

Kirkus Reviews

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When Vincent’s erratic behavior flares, Gachet suggests a “cordial” to soothe him, but Vincent tells Gachet that he must paint to keep sane.

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Publishers Weekly

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With several middle-grade books behind her, Wallace makes her adult fiction debut with an intense look at the last months of Vincent van Gogh through the eyes of Paul Gachet, a doctor specializing in mental illness.

Jan 17 2011 | Read Full Review of Leaving Van Gogh: A Novel

Book Reporter

A fair amount is known about troubled artist Vincent van Gogh through his portrayals in movies like Lust for Life with Kirk Douglas and Robert Altman's Vincent & Theo, and even in song, as in Don McLean's "Vincent."

Apr 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Leaving Van Gogh: A Novel

The Washington Times

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While Carol Wallace was researching her masters thesis in art history in 2005, she came across the name of Dr. Paul Gachet, a French physician who specialized in diseases of the nerves and mental illnesses at the end of the 19th century. One of his patients was the painter, Vincent Van Gogh.

Sep 19 2011 | Read Full Review of Leaving Van Gogh: A Novel

Historical Novel Society

The visits give Gachet hope that he can cure van Gogh’s mental illness—and his own feelings of inadequacy as well.

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Lincoln Journal Star

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Sep 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Leaving Van Gogh: A Novel

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

From my former career as an art historian, I knew Vincent’s letters, and looked up his description of Gachet: “I have seen Dr. Gachet, who gives me the impression of being quite eccentric, though his medical experience must maintain his equilibrium while he struggles with the nervous troubles tha...

Apr 19 2011 | Read Full Review of Leaving Van Gogh: A Novel

The Roanoke Times

Vincent used my features to create a portrait of world-weariness.” Yet Vincent has seen Dr. Gachet individually, to his core.

Jun 13 2011 | Read Full Review of Leaving Van Gogh: A Novel

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