Publication Date: January 27, 2015
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
A mesmerizing tale of art and passion in Belle Époque France. As a woman, aspiring sculptor Camille Claudel has plenty of critics, especially her ultra-traditional mother. But when Auguste Rodin makes Camille his apprentice—and his muse—their passion inspires groundbreaking works. Yet, Camille’s success is overshadowed by her lover’s rising star, and her obsessions cross the line into madness. Rodin’s Lover brings to life the volatile love affair between one of the era’s greatest artists and a woman entwined in a tragic dilemma she cannot escape.
Auguste Rodin is a household name in the art world. His stunning, full scale sculptures can be seen at Musee Rodin in Paris. But also in this museum lie the works of Camille Claudel, Rodin’s student turned lover, and a brilliant sculptor in her own right. Rodin’s Lover follows Camille from the early days of her life in Villeneuve to the tumultuous obsession of her relationship with Rodin.
I knew nothing about Camille Claudel before reading this new book Heather Webb. But I was quickly swept up in Camille’s story. Heather Webb brings Camille and her pursuit of success in Paris's art world vividly to life. Passionate and headstrong, Claudel runs off the established path of womanhood in the pursuit of her art. She is at once buoyed and held back by her family and her relationship with Rodin; but as her fame grows, she becomes increasingly estranged from everyone that she loves. It becomes clear that Camille is suffering from a mental illness as her tirades and paranoia increase. Rodin is a conflicted character in that he refuses to part ways with his long time paramour Rose, and yet he is obsessed with Camille. The tug-of-war of their relationship along with Camille’s failure to conform leads to her downfall.
While the novel drags in some places as it minutely details Camille’s breakdown, it is still a fascinating portrait of a little known artist. The final pages of the novel are heart wrenching as Camille is finally committed to an asylum. Though Rodin struggled with the women in his life, his final insistence that Camille’s works be housed along with his own is a true testament of his love and respect for her. I was pleasantly surprised Rodin's Lover and recommend it for lovers of art based fiction as well as Belle Epoque France. It is an enthralling exploration of art, talent, and madness.
Advance Praise for Rodin's Lover“Rodin’s Lover is a textured historical novel that captures the indomitable spirit of artist Camille Claudel, a woman whose mighty talent was nearly eclipsed by her potent love for fellow artist Auguste Rodin. Can two passionate, creative talents thrive together or will one flame inevitably consume the other? Webb gracefully explores this ignitable relationship while illuminating Claudel’s untold heartbreak and evocative artwork. A story of human emotion, once raw and malleable, now preserved to lasting stone.” ~ Sarah McCoy, New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling author of The Baker’s Daughter
“Rodin’s Lover is the story of Camille Claudel–one of history’s boldest and most brilliant artists. Forced to choose between a torturous love affair and the art that consumed her, Claudel is an audacious and authentic character who deserves to be remembered. RODIN’S LOVER is epic and unflinching–a book you won’t soon forget.” –Deanna Raybourn, NYT bestselling author and Rita Winner of City of Jasmine waltz
“Rodin’s Lover is an evocative portrait of the talented and explosive Camille Claudel who struggled between passion as the lover of Rodin and recognition as an innovative sculptor in her own right. From smoky cafés to clay-streaked ateliers, Heather Webb has created a vivid picture of Belle Époque Paris.” –Jessica Brockmole, author of Letters from Skye
“Dazzling!….. In Rodin’s Lover, author Heather Webb brings to life, with vivid detail, the story of brilliant and tormented sculptress Camille Claudel and the epic love affair with the legendary sculptor who worshiped her. Deeply moving and meticulously researched, this book will capture your heart, then hold it tightly long after the final page.” –Anne Girard, author of Madame Picasso
“A rich, sensuous novel…[was] written with great empathy for the very human Rodin and his lover, this novel of the visceral world of the 19th century Paris ateliers, of clay-stained dresses and fingernails, lithe models who vow to remain and then go, family love which stays through all difficulties and talent which endures, comes vividly to life.” --Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet
“Rodin’s Lover is a taut and engrossing look at sexism in the arts through the eyes of a lesser known figure, Camille Claudel, inspiring the reader to examine what’s changed and what hasn’t.” –Julie Kibler, bestselling author of Calling Me Home