“When young Gastien Beauchamp flees the farm for Paris, the late nineteenth century bohemian era is in full swing. Color has always called to him, beseeching him to capture it on canvas and show people a new way of seeing things. However, the city of Paris has a ruthless agenda. Unless a man has money and connections, Paris unfeelingly crushes dreams and destroys souls. Left with only his dreams, Gastien stubbornly pushes on. Sometimes the “impossible” is possible – but the cost can be extremely high.”
Gastien, by Caddy Rowland, is an interesting story set in an era and a nation that I haven’t read much about before. The writing style resembles that of F.Scott Fitzgerald, though it lacks his poetry and lyricism.
The positives: fully developed, relateable characters involved in a tightly written, character driven plot. One grows to sympathize with, but not pity, Gastien even as you mentally plead with him to see the dangers he courts and walk away from them.
The negatives: Rowland has a tendency to psychoanalyze her protagonist on the page instead of trusting the reader to understand what she has already clearly shown by his actions and thoughts. This aspect of the novel was an unnecessary distraction, which had the effect of pulling me out of the story.
That said, I had no trouble finishing the book. I wanted to find out what happened to Gastien. I wished him well and hoped throughout that he would realize his dream and be able to accept and handle the cost he chose to pay, as well as the unforseen costs life often surprises us with. There is darkness here, as there is in life, but essentially this story is one of triumph over adversity in the face of terrible odds
Caddy Rowland lives in Minnesota with her husband, who was her high school sweetheart. They are owned by two parrots. Besides being a writer, she is an artist. One can often find her “makin’ love to the color” (painting) with loud music blaring. Her goal as an author is to make readers laugh, cry, think, and become intimately connected with her main characters. She writes dramatic novels showcasing the sublime joy and bitter tragedy of being human.