I have this bad habit of borrowing books from different people and not read them. I just forget about them and they start gathering dust on the shelves.
So, on my last trip to the beach I decided on taking “Moulin Rouge” by Pierre La Mure with me. Remembering the movie I had the impression that it will be a romance book. Boy was I mistaken.
This is a book for my soul. A slow paced book about painters (famous ones I might add), the difficulties they encountered during those times and the old days of Paris when the Eiffel Tower was being built.
The mention of the Moulin Rouge cabaret only comes about half way through the book. Till then the book presents the life of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Truth is I never heard of this Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and yet it seems he was a famous French painter, who was a good friend with Cezanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin.
Henri was not the normal painter that struggled in life, he belong to an aristocratic family meaning money was never a problem for him. But, life is a bitch and we all know it, but Henri de Toulouse Lautrec knew it better than anyone.
His parents were primary cousins. So his genes were really messed up, and at an early age he got sick, broke his legs and he only got better when he was 17-18 years old. But by that time, his legs stopped growing, he had problems walking, his eyesight was bad and he was basically deformed. His upper body was that of a grown up and his lower body was that of a child.
I believe the cover of my book was reproduced after this particular picture.
The action in the book mostly revolves around Henri stay in the Montmartre neighbourhood in Paris, “the area of Paris famous for its bohemian lifestyle and the haunt of artists, writers, and philosophers“. Henri life, even if he is from a good family, is really hard. He was mocked for being short in stature and for his physical appearance which led him to drown his sorrows in alcohol.
Its actually really sad considering the book depicts him as being a nice person (can’t tell for sure how a person is if you never known them personally). He is shown protecting the honor of Van Gogh (who was well known for being mentally unstable ), being generous with friends and even prostitutes.
I normally don’t enjoy history with all the dates and events, because I believe too much info is bad for the mind. But I do enjoy history when it comes to people. Knowing what they did, how they managed in life, what where their pleasures in life and all the little things. This type of history fascinates me to no end.
Its amazing how many things go together in life, how many people knew each other even if their field off work was completely different, how certain events were related between them. History that is taught in school is boring. History learned by accident is much more fun.
Seriously, now only did I found more about famous painters, but I now know that the Eiffel Tower was built in the same year as the Moulin Rouge.
I started the book at the beginning of summer and I only finished it now at the end of autumn. It’s not a hard book to read, it’s very captivating but it starts on a happy note which coincides with summer (all nice and sunny, warm and full of fun) and it has a bitter end (gloomy and sad) just like autumn.
I did a bit of research on the Internet and it seems that Lautrec died from syphilis and alcoholism, but the book is a lot kinder and it attributes his death just to alcoholism.
This was one of those books that will stick in my memory for a long time.