Let Me Tell You About a Man I Knew by Susan Fletcher
My primary reading these days falls into the SFF bracket without doubt, however, there are certain authors that I really enjoy that step outside that field that I always want to read and Susan Fletcher is one of those authors. I first fell in love with her writing after reading Witch Light (which I think is also known as Corrag). Fletcher has a way of writing things that simply make them stand out from the page. Her writing is beautiful and evocative and this title is no exception.
Let Me Tell You About a Man I Knew brings to us a story about Jeanne Trabuc. Jeanne’s husband runs the hospital at Saint-Paul-de Mausole and the hospital is about to receive a new patient who will certainly stir things up a lot. Not to beat about the bush the patient in question is Vincent Van Gogh and this book brings to us a fictionalised account of his time spent at the hospital in Provence following the troubled period in which he cut off part of his ear.
To be clear, this is very much Jeanne’s story but the arrival of VvG is definitely the catalyst that sparks a change in Jeanne during which she reflects on her own life. Jeanne and her husband are at a quite stage of their life. Their sons have grown and left home to start their own life stories and Jeanne finds herself a little lonely and at something of a loose end. Her interest is sparked by this new addition to the hospital and she finds herself visiting him in spite of her husband’s express wishes that she have no contact with any of the patients.
This story is a slice of introspection during which Jeanne looks back at her life as a young girl and a mother reflecting on her own and her children’s hopes and wishes.
Why I liked this. I loved reading those parts of the story in which VvG made an appearance, his description and the imaginary conversations with Jeanne were really intriguing, enough in fact to make me go and read up a little more of VvG’s life story and take a look at the pictures he painted during his time in Provence. Also, and unsurprisingly for me, I loved the writing. Fletcher is a beautiful writer and Provence is a beautiful place that provided this author with some wonderful material to work with. The startling sunshine, the intensity of the flowers, the striking starlit sky and so much more. The writing is, put simply, evocative.
This is only a fairly short story but it really caught my attention. Jeanne and her husband may not be the most dynamic characters that you’ll ever read about and there’s certainly no swords and sorcery to be found here, but nonetheless this story captured my attention and in fact kept it long after I finished the book.
A quiet and thoughtful story, beautifully written and with an intriguing glimpse into the life of a brilliant and influential artist.
I received a copy of this courtesy of the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.