Camille lives in suburban France with her family. Her mother (who she clashes with constantly) wants her to be a respectable woman and find someone to marry and settle down. However all Camille can think about is sculpting. She has great potential and has a tutor but to really succeed she feels like she needs to go to Paris to learn. It's tough for a woman to be taken seriously as an artist and she knows that if she wants to succeed she will have to silence a lot of critics and work incredibly hard.
She goes to art college, experiences nude models for the first time, and kind of struggles with independence and relying on her family for money for everything. She has some success and gets some good buzz about her work, but everything changes when she meets Auguste Rodin.
Their relationship is complicated and long and rotates between love/hate/utter devotion/despair and just about every other thing in between. It's also complicated by the fact that Rodin has lived with the same woman for decades who is also the father of his nearly grown son. They inspire each other and make each other better artists but outside forces, her family, her volatile nature and a lot of other things keep things from ever being really quiet and orderly with their life together!
Here's the hangup for me. Camille is hard to like sometimes and I don't understand her occasionally. At the beginning her family agrees to move to Paris but her mom's condition is that she gets to set her up with suitors. Camille totally agrees to it but when it comes to the suitors she completely resists. And I get that she doesn't want suitors, but you made a deal, honor the agreement.Towards the middle of the book, she was like "oh my gosh I kissed a stranger at a party when I was drunk" but doesn't really have qualms about having a sexual relationship with Rodin. Like kissing a stranger was far more scandalous. Having said all that I was glad that Jessie totally calls her out on being a crummy friend and kind of an overly abrasive person so I was glad she played the role of Greek chorus for me! Though as the book progresses you kind of understand why she might be acting that way.
Advanced Praise for Rodin’s Lover
“Rodin’s Lover is a textured historical novel that captures the indomitable spirit of artist Camille Claudel, a woman whose mighty talent was nearly eclipsed by her potent love for fellow artist Auguste Rodin. Can two passionate, creative talents thrive together or will one flame inevitably consume the other? Webb gracefully explores this ignitable relationship while illuminating Claudel’s untold heartbreak and evocative artwork. A story of human emotion, once raw and malleable, now preserved to lasting stone.” ~ Sarah McCoy, New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling author of The Baker’s Daughter
“Rodin’s Lover is the story of Camille Claudel–one of history’s boldest and most brilliant artists. Forced to choose between a torturous love affair and the art that consumed her, Claudel is an audacious and authentic character who deserves to be remembered. RODIN’S LOVER is epic and unflinching–a book you won’t soon forget.” –Deanna Raybourn, NYT bestselling author and Rita Winner of City of Jasmine waltz
“Rodin’s Lover is an evocative portrait of the talented and explosive Camille Claudel who struggled between passion as the lover of Rodin and recognition as an innovative sculptor in her own right. From smoky cafés to clay-streaked ateliers, Heather Webb has created a vivid picture of Belle Époque Paris.” –Jessica Brockmole, author of Letters from Skye
“Dazzling!….. In Rodin’s Lover, author Heather Webb brings to life, with vivid detail, the story of brilliant and tormented sculptress Camille Claudel and the epic love affair with the legendary sculptor who worshiped her. Deeply moving and meticulously researched, this book will capture your heart, then hold it tightly long after the final page.” –Anne Girard, author of Madame Picasso
“A rich, sensuous novel…[was] written with great empathy for the very human Rodin and his lover, this novel of the visceral world of the 19th century Paris ateliers, of clay-stained dresses and fingernails, lithe models who vow to remain and then go, family love which stays through all difficulties and talent which endures, comes vividly to life.” –Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet
“Rodin’s Lover is a taut and engrossing look at sexism in the arts through the eyes of a lesser known figure, Camille Claudel, inspiring the reader to examine what’s changed and what hasn’t.” –Julie Kibler, bestselling author of Calling Me Home
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About the Author
Heather Webb grew up a military brat and naturally became obsessed with travel, culture, and languages. She put her degrees to good use teaching high school French for nearly a decade before turning to full time novel writing and freelance editing. Her debut, BECOMING JOSEPHINE, released January 2014 from Plume/Penguin. Her forthcoming novel, RODIN’S LOVER, will release in winter of 2015.
When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world.