Published by Bloomsbury Children's on September 3, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, Romance
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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Seventeen-year-old Julien is a romantic—he loves spending his free time at the museum poring over the great works of the Impressionists. But one night, a peach falls out of a Cezanne, Degas ballerinas dance across the floor, and Julien is not hallucinating.
The art is reacting to a curse that trapped a beautiful girl, Clio, in a painting forever. Julien has a chance to free Clio and he can't help but fall in love with her. But love is a curse in its own right. And soon paintings begin to bleed and disappear. Together Julien and Clio must save the world's greatest art . . . at the expense of the greatest love they've ever known.
When I read the synopsis for Starry Nights, I began to covet it immediately. We all know I’m artsy, but I think many people don’t realize how artsy I am! I minored in art history, so a book about art coming to life sold me. As always, my main points are bolded. :)
1. The premise of Starry Nights is SO unique. I’ve always wanted to read a book with such a huge emphasis on art history. The fact that it’s about a boy who falls in love with a girl in a Renoir painting, and dances and eats dessert with her on the museum floor each night made me love it so much. And there are some twists which make it pretty exciting. Who is she? Why does she come to life at night? Why is Julien the only one who can see her? Yeah, these questions are answered in a blend of excitement, suspense, and the love of art.
2. There is SO much art history in this book, and so many mentions of paintings and museums I love. I never made it to the Orsay, which is where this book takes place for the most part, but I have been to the Louvre, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’ve seen the paintings in this book, and I have imagined them come to life many times. My dreams came true with Starry Nights.
3. Not only does the girl in Renoir’s painting, Clio, come to life, she and Julien can go into other paintings on their dates. They spend time floating on a boat in Van Gogh’s Starry Night, they dance in another, they watch Swan Lake performed by Degas’s dancers, they spend an afternoon on the bridge in Monet’s garden. Clio tells us all about the artists, the paintings, life during that time period, and more. Their conversations are so compelling.
4. You can tell Daisy Whitney loves art, and that’s what made this book so strong. Her descriptions of the museums, the paintings, the emotions, and the romance were utterly mesmerizing. I could picture every wave in The Raft of the Medusa (a painting I absolutely love). I could picture every brush stroke in Van Gogh’s Starry Night. She turned the art into magic.
5. Daisy painted a lovely picture of the artist, Renoir. We get to learn all about him and his desires, inspirations, and thoughts. I love that she made such a famous and influential artist a part of her book. She gave him a personality, and made him real. I’m not sure I’ll ever think of Renoir, or any other artist, the same way again.
6. Daisy took some real liberties with Starry Nights, and I love that she had the guts to do it. A lot of her artistic facts were true, but some of them she put her own spin on them. She created legends, new paintings, inside jokes, and even an explanation for the look on the Mona Lisa’s face. I loved reading about so many fun speculations regarding the art world.
7. I also loved the problem the art began to experience. The book’s synopsis mentions that things start falling out of paintings and that they start bleeding (figuratively) and getting sick. I loved reading about why this happened and the lengths people went to to fix it. It also allowed the art to come alive in a different way. The art itself is depicted as having feelings and desires. In a way, each painting became a character. It was amazing.
8. The characters were great! Julien is such a sweet, caring boy who loves art. Clio is a mystery with a special spirit. They we have Bonheur, a quirky guy who likes to dress up like a girl (wigs and all) and helps Julien figure out who he is and what his purpose is.
9. There were some absolutely breathtaking quotes. Here are some of my favorites:
“When the paintings come out for you, it’s what people have meant all along when they talk about artists being immortal. In a way, their work can live forever. When the art comes alive it’s like the immortal version of the painting, like a little bit of the person painted has gotten to live forever.”
“There is magic somewhere in Paris.”
“The sky could fall, the earth could split open, the garden could tear into two, and I wouldn’t notice.”
“It’s like you can do anything, it’s like the stars exist for you, it’s like you can stop time and fill it with the way your whole heart and mind clicks perfectly with another person. That it’s like the impossible has become possible.”
All in all, this book was a gift to my inner art historian, and is a brand new favorite of mine. The unique storyline is pure magic, and made my senses tingle. I’d give anything to be able to travel through paintings, watch them come to life, and interact with them. Starry Nights allowed me to do that. I would love to read more books like this, and will also definitely be seeking out more of Daisy Whitney’s works. Definitely read this book if you enjoy Paris, art, magic, and romance!