Rodin’s Lover, by: Heather Webb
I give this historical fiction centered on the affair between Camille Claudel and her lover Auguste Rodin, three out of five stars. The prose offered a sensory glimpse into the protagonist’s work of creating visual art, and life in Paris during the late 1800’s.
What I liked:
1) The environmental descriptions and how they added depth to the action of the story. The way a room or field was described and then changed within the same scene provided insight into the protagonist’s state of mind. As a woman with a growing mental illness these details revealed the drastic changes in her emotional state very well.
2) The conflict, Camille struggles with rejection from all sides including her family, friends, lover, and public. Her mental illness accelerated every real and perceived slight. I think the struggle for her work to be judged on its merit and not segregated into a separate class, because a female created it, was well done.
3) The character of Camille, while I didn’t care for her personality, I felt a great deal of sympathy for her. She wrestled with the desire to live an unconventional life, while denying herself conventional things she wanted. To be a wife to the man she loved, to be a mother to a child she discarded, to be a daughter to a mother who was mentally ill.
What I didn’t like:
1) I would have preferred the point of view to remain with Camille. The scenes from Auguste’s point of view were weaker and did not offer much insight into the man’s nature, or movement in the story.
2) There was some unnecessary repetition, and a few important scenes that felt off. They were a bit too obvious and lacked the detail and refinement the narrative shined with through most of the book.