Friday, 13 January 2017

Book Review: Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi

Book: Black Water Lilies

Author: Michel Bussi 

Pages: 396 

Read on: My Kindle 

Read in: 3-4 hours

Plot Summary: Giverny. During the day, tourists flock to the former home of the famous artist Claude Monet and the gardens where he painted his Water Lilies. But when silence returns, there is a darker side to the peaceful French village. 

This is the story of thirteen days that begin with one murder and end with another. Jérôme Morval, a man whose passion for art was matched only by his passion for women, has been found dead in the stream that runs through the gardens. In his pocket is a postcard of Monet's Water Lilies with the words: Eleven years old. Happy Birthday. 
Entangled in the mystery are three women: a young painting prodigy, the seductive village schoolteacher and an old widow who watches over the village from a mill by the stream. All three of them share a secret. But what do they know about the discovery of Jérôme Morval's corpse? And what is the connection to the mysterious, rumoured painting of Black Water Lilies? 

General Thoughts: This is the second Michel Bussi book that I have read.. and I bought it on Amazon with some misgivings as I did not enjoy After The Crash by him. Here's the review of that, if you are interested. However, I bought Black Water Lilies because the premise sounded really interesting and, of course, because of Monet! 

Monet is one of my favourite painters and I still remember the first time I saw one of the Water Lilies in real life.. I cried! I cried! So, um, of course I had to read a book set in Giverny and, which had some kind of connection with Monet's most famous work of art! And, spoiler alert, I LOVED this book! 

Things I Liked: 

1. I loved the setting of the book.. The village of Giverny is legendary and having a story set therein with lots of references to Monet's life, family and work is very riveting and interesting. There is loads of interesting trivia and tidbits about Monet's life and work and if you love art and, especially, Impressionism, then you will definitely like this book! 

2. The premise is really interesting. 13 days and two murders with three mysterious women and the drama in each of their lives. You keep wondering why the murders are happening and which of these women is going to make it out of Giverny alive! The way the three women's lives are connected is very interesting and not very obvious at all. 

3. The characters are all interesting, layered and nice. The three women- the little art prodigy- Fanette, the beautiful school teacher- Stephanie and the unnamed older woman skulking around the village are all really wonderful to read about.. their inner turmoil, their dreams and aspirations.. all of these are really well depicted and make for interesting reading. 

As a reader, you root for little Fanette to win the prestigious Thompson Foundation prize and have a chance to study art in one of the most prestigious art schools of the world.. you root for Stephanie, stuck in a marriage with a man she no longer loves, to find love and a way out of her oppressive marriage. And, you are mostly left wondering what the old woman knows.. what are the secrets she is alluding to... and how she knows what she knows.. 

The two police detectives- Laurenc and Sylvio are each fun in their own way. The way they go about solving the case, the clues they pursue and the deductions they make are all very well done. We get to know these detectives in the course of this book and it provides a nice change of pace from the mysteries that Giverny holds. 

4. All the crimes are quite interesting and things are not what they seem! I love when a mystery/ thriller can surprise you and this one has a lovely, lovely twist, which just blew my mind! I don't remember the last time that happened, so this is always a good thing in my books! 

5. The writing is very, very good. The English version is a translation and I dare say that the translator has done a fantastic job of bringing Giverny and its locales and locals alive. I always give an extra point if a thriller is also well written. :) 

6. The pace is pitch perfect. As the narrative moves from the investigation to the personal lives of the people involved, it keeps the reader gripped, involved and the pace never lets up! I read this book whilst waiting for my flight at an airport and, later, on the flight and I just didn't want to put the book down. 

Rating: 5/5
This is a wonderful book with a nice psychological thriller storyline and a nice little story about love, friendship and just the very human need for personal freedom. Highly recommend this book!!! 

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