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Reviews (by Author)

Reviews (by Title)


Author:  Alma H. Bond

Title:  Camille Claudel: A Novel

Publisher:  PublishAmerica

Reviewer: W. H. McDonald, Jr. – AAA Founder

Art History Comes Alive in Novel

It would take a psychoanalyst along with the help of a great writer to tell this strange story based on a real life artist. The book “Camille Claudel: A Novel” accomplishes this task by having all those professional qualities already in form of author Alma H. Bond. She has spent her adult working life helping people to cope with their emotional disorders; and she is a brilliant writer of obvious talent. Combining these talents with what appears to be extensive and deep research, she has fashioned a historical novel of some importance. She has filled in gaps of missing information with her creative and fertile imagination. She puts herself right into the shoes of Camille.

For most people, even those who have studied some art history, there may not be any name recognition for a French women sculptor named Camille Claudel. But most every one has some knowledge of her married lover Auguste Rodin, the famous sculptor. This story crosses over may lines—prejudice against women, adultery, mental illness, a dysfunctional family, tragedy, romance, betrayal, a possible incestuous relationship, art, and being forced to live your last 30 years of life in a “nut house”. This story is epic and very sad as well. The author paints Camille as a victim with a borderline personality disorder of some kind; but she still comes across as a sympatric character in this story.

Bond allows the story to unfold through the diaries and letters of Camille as she writes her memories while still confined inside the insane asylum. This is in the early 1900’s and there wasn’t much enlightened treatment for those patients whose families had them committed to such places. The story goes back to her childhood and to desires to become a famous sculptor. Her family does nothing to encourage these talents. She goes off seeking art training and eventually is accepted as the only female student of Rodin. Long training hours and working together leads to an adulterous affair and their licit relationship began.

There are many side issues and emotional problems as this life story is rolled out in the novel. One cannot help but to think how close the author has captured the real story. Did Rodin actually take credit for some of her art work? Was there an incestuous relationship with her brother? Was she a victim in all her undoing or was she really insane? The book makes for some very fascinating reading. It will stir the heart and curiosity of all artists and art lovers. It may open some interesting college campus discussions and debates between art students and even historians.

The book is an adventure story and will take you emotionally all over the inner landscape of your heart and mind. If you accept the theory that she was truly a victim of many people in her life and society then this book may anger you to some degree over the injustices. However, if she really was the one who ruined her own life then you come away feeling great pain for her. In no sense will you walk away from this book unmoved. It will make you think and feel.



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