I don’t think we should count on Dr. Gachet in any way. For one thing, from what it seems to me, he is more ill than I am, or at least just as much.” - Vincent Van Gogh to Theo Van Gogh, May 24, 2011
- Leaving Van Gogh is an historical novel about the relationship between Vincent Van Gogh and Dr. Paul Gachet. Van Gogh arrived in Auvers, France in May of 1890, hoping that country life would improve his mental health. Weekend resident Dr. Gachet, who was a Parisian medical man with a history of treating mental illness, was keenly interested in the art of his day. He should have been just the man to help Vincent, but Van Gogh’s initial judgment was skeptical. His attitude softened and the men became friends. Vincent even painted Dr. Gachet, producing a portrait that is famous today. But Van Gogh ended up a suicide, so perhaps his initial assessment of Gachet was correct.
Leaving Van Gogh is narrated by Dr. Gachet, who saw Van Gogh as a painter, a puzzle, a project. It is a novel about friendship, genius, madness, and the art that bound these two men together.
Carol Wallace is the author of numerous previous books, including The Official Preppy Handbook, which she co-authored. Leaving Van Gogh is her first historical novel.
Praise for Leaving Van Gogh:
“A haunting novel of bold strokes and fine-grained gestures, one that resonates long after its last, luminous page. In Carol Wallace’s masterful hands Van Gogh’s pictures spring to life every bit as brilliantly as does the painter himself.” —Stacy Schiff, author of Cleopatra: A Life
“Carol Wallace’s Leaving Van Gogh is an act of wondrous ventriloquism not to be missed: … a tale of love, of madness, of art– and of genius and grief– told with the tender courage of a good friend.” – Brenda Wineapple, author of White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson
“This sensitively written novel, with its many passages of deep beauty and insight, reveals the tragic Van Gogh as clearly as if he sat across your room. Leaving Van Gogh is a moving and profound book about the preciousness of the gifts of art and love and what we can mean to each other.”—Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude & Camille: a novel of Monet
“A rich, meticulously researched novel that probes the passion of genius, and the demands of love and friendship. With a painterly eye, Wallace translates Van Gogh’s dazzling canvases into luminous prose and lets the reader see the universe as the great Impressionist did.” –Ellen Feldman, author of Lucy
“Leaving Van Gogh is a remarkable imaginative achievement and an utterly compelling read.” –Robert Olen Butler, author of the Pulizer Prize winning A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
“How did Carol Wallace do this? Her novel so thrillingly and compassionately illuminates the tragic life of Vincent Van Gogh that he is now lodged in my heart like a beloved lost relative.” –Elinor Lipman, author of The Family Man