Cover image for The last Van Gogh / Alyson Richman.
The last Van Gogh / Alyson Richman.
Berkley trade pbk. ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Berkley Books, c2006.
Physical Description:
311 p. ; 21 cm.
Recreates the riveting and impassioned final months of Vincent's life and the tragic relationship between a young girl brimming with hope and an artist teetering on despair. Both a love story and a meticulously researched historical novel, The last Van Gogh explores the complexities between patient and doctor, painter and muse.
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Summer, 1890. Van Gogh arrives at Auvers-sur-Oise, a bucolic French village that lures city artists to the country. It is here that twenty-year-old Maurguerite Gachet has grown up, attending to her father and brother ever since her mother's death. And it is here that Vincent Van Gogh will spend his last summer, under the care of Doctor Gachet - homeopathic doctor, dilettante painter, and collector. In these last days of his life, Van Gogh will create over 70 paintings, two of them portraits of Marguerite Gachet. But little does he know that, while capturing Marguerite and her garden on canvas, he will also capture her heart.

Both a love story and historical novel, The Last Van Gogh recreates the final months of Vincent's life - and the tragic relationship between a young girl brimming with hope and an artist teetering on despair.

Author Notes

Alysin Richman was born on May 19, 1972. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1994 and received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. She is best known for her novel The Lost Wife, which is a story about a husband and wife who are separated in a concentration camp during World War II and met up years later at their grandchildren's wedding. Her other title's include The Mask Carver's Son, The Ryhthm of Memory, The Last Van Gogh, and The Garden of Letters.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Richman (The Mask Carver's Son; Swedish Tango) speculates in her third novel that Vincent Van Gogh found his muse in the 21-year-old daughter of his last doctor. Marguerite Gachet, accustomed to her father's revolving door of artist patients (Cezanne, Pissarro, Bernard among them), finds herself enamored of the disheveled Van Gogh ("a rare blend of vulnerability and bravado") shortly after his arrival at her father's home in Auvers, where Van Gogh undergoes treatment for his manifold illnesses. Though Marguerite is little more than a servant to her father, a failed painter turned physician who prides himself to an absurd extent on his art collection, she manages, with the help of her cloistered half-sister, to begin a covert flirtation with Van Gogh. Between sitting-thrice-for Van Gogh and carrying on her household duties, Marguerite uncovers a family secret and has a clandestine rendezvous with the painter. Though Marguerite's frustrated love is carefully rendered, other characters are mostly memorable for their quirks (her father, the failed painter; her brother, the goofy sycophant; her half-sister, the gold-hearted sage). The climax may be a bit breathless, but, then again, Van Gogh isn't remembered for his subtlety. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Vincent van Gogh spent the last two months of his life in 1890 in Auvers-sur-Oise, under the care of Doctor Gachet, a homeopath and aspiring artist. Richman (Swedish Tango) portrays that time from the perspective of Gachet's 20-year-old daughter, Marguerite, the subject of two of Van Gogh's paintings. Rigidly obedient to her widowed father, Marguerite seems little more than a servant to him, her brother, and two women who remain hidden from society, Madame Chevalier and Louise-Josephine. With Louise-Josephine's encouragement and help, Marguerite arranges clandestine encounters with the artist. After posing for his last painting, she spends the rest of her life under the domination of her father and her cruel and jealous brother. The characters of Gachet's household are strange and unlikable; one wishes Van Gogh could flee to Paris to escape. Marguerite's repression seems so extreme that she likely would have pursued any eligible male visitor allowed to interact with her, and although Van Gogh responds with passion, he remains focused on his work. Libraries with large fiction collections may want a copy, but they should also have materials about Van Gogh's life and art for those wanting to know more. Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Mankato (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.