Vincent and Theo (audiobook)
by Deborah Heiligman
This wonderful piece of nonfiction tells the story of Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo van Gogh. I have always been a huge fan of van Gogh. When I first started getting into art, I studied him, did research papers on his life and work, cried when I saw a traveling show in LA featuring his work, and visited the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam about 14 years ago. I thought I was a pretty big fan that I knew basically everything about him. Well I was totally wrong. After reading this book, I realized that I knew the basics and a lot of that was just blended together a sugar coated for kids. For example, I knew he cut off his ear when he got into a fight with Gauguin. I didn’t know that Gauguin was a fencer and there is still disagreement about whether van Gogh cut off his own ear, or Gauguin did it with his fencing sword. This book also gave me insight into his childhood, various careers, relationships, and mental illness. I learned he was starting to gain attention before he died, and many painters attended his funeral. The biggest thing for me was Theo’s wife’s influence on Vincent’s career. I guess I thought his paintings were just there and were then discovered for their awesomeness, but it was Johanna who propelled his career forward, despite Vincent and Theo being deceased. I loved loved loved that I now know Theo and not just Vincent, because the two were equally impactful on Vincent’s work.
What I liked about this book was that while I am not a big nonfiction fan unless it is professional development or something, I fell in LOVE with this book. I might need to own it instead of just borrow it from the library. I can’t stop thinking about it! I knew a lot about van Gogh already, so I thought it was going to be like a text book about an artist I really love. I had no idea it was a love story between two brothers. The author told equal parts Vincent and Theo, and we can see both had troubled lives, but they were the most important person in each other’s lives.
What I didn’t like about this book was that it took me awhile to get into it. I think that’s because I am not normally a nonfiction reader, so it took a few chapters for me to realize it was a story with characters, only those characters were real people who once walked our Earth. Once I got into it, I couldn’t stop listening.
Book 54 of 40
(Book 20 of 2018)