To say that Sacré Bleu is historical fiction would be a disservice to what Christopher Moore has accomplished here. It’s truly more a historical farce with elements of fantasy, science fiction and a lot of sexual innuendo with dashes of debauchery thrown in just to anger the purist. So, another word’s, typical Moore.
Most of the novel is set in the late 19th century -and I note this because he does, at various points in the novel, it travels further back in time. It begins with the death of Vincent van Gogh (who Moore proposes was murdered instead of killing himself. And he has a point; I mean, who shoots themselves in the chest and then walk a mile to the doctors?) and the spins a tale about Lucien Lessard, a young baker/aspiring painter who is friends with Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Monet. Together, they set out to solve the mystery surrounding van Gogh’s tragic death, the involvement of a wizened old man known only as The Colorman and even mysterious woman who seems capable –with aide of the ultramarine color of blue- to stop time itself.
As a long-time reader of Moore, his talent to balance farce with a serious subject (like his Jesus Christ novel Lamb) matter is always impressive. While I found his last novel, Fool, to be clever, in some respects his re-telling of King Lear and other various Shakespeare motifs got boring after the one-note joke wore off. Here Moore blends an art history lesson, along with the basic “what if?” element along with a mystery and a love story with his ability to get off some hilarious one-liners.
It’s compelling, it’s funny and that made me happy.