Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Yellow House

Tea and Cherries in the gallery garden as Jill finishes The Yellow House before her book group meeting.

Jill had her book group on Friday. It was started by her friend Vivien and is a very friendly informal group who meet at each others houses about once a month. Jill chose The Yellow House by Martin Gayford and hosted the book group at our house. We chose snacks to theme the evening 'Old Amsterdam' and Brie cheeses to represent Van Gogh being dutch and Gauguin's french heritage, and a lemon tart because of the yellow colour of the house in Arles where they stayed! We even had a bowl of sunflower seeds and Joyce brought a lovely bouquet of Sunflowers.

Leo recommended the book originally and then I read it and recommended it to Jill. It is about the time Vincent Van Gogh spent in Arles, staying in 'The Yellow House'. During his time there Paul Gauguin came to stay, and they painted together. The letters Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo give many details of Van Gogh's life at that time. Gayford has cleverly woven the tale around historical facts. Reading the book made his life very real. I loved reading about how he furnished the house and the details of how he managed the domestic arrangements when he had another artist come to stay in the house. He was obsessed with making a sucesful artists' house and how they should both work together to fulfill their artistic visions. I've been lucky enough to see Vincent's paintings at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and my visit there was definitely enhanced by all the little facts about his life that I gleaned from reading 'The Yellow House.' I highly recommend it, and so did the book group. The worst thing about the book is the poor reproductions of the paintings, they are only in black and white.

Joyce is now suggesting a book group trip to Amsterdam to see all Vincent's paintings described in the book in all their colourful glory.

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