February 11, 2015

Shabbily Gorgeous

Kirkus just reviewed Paris Red and said some wonderful things:

“Manet’s muse ponders color, power, sex and love in vibrant 1860s Paris…Gibbon writes in a rather fragmented style, with short chapters…the overall effect is lyrical and fits the shabbily gorgeous Parisian setting. Fans of art history, Paris and contemporary Künstleroman like Girl With a Pearl Earring will enjoy the new perspective and the strong female voice.​”

The entire review thrills me, but the phrase “shabbily gorgeous Parisian setting” triggers something in me. It makes me think not only of the Paris of Victorine and Manet, but also the bits of Paris that are part of my life right now—like the 32-year-old old photo at the top of this post, which was ragged to begin with and which I “shabbified” even more.

I’ve written before about this view from my window in Paris in 1983. Each day I woke up to the SUZE sign, and I so loved seeing the word that I gave a Victorine a sign outside her window. And years later, I bought this lenticular sign just so I could have the word SUZE back in my life. Cracked, stained and rusty, it suits me perfectly:


Here’s one more shabbily gorgeous photo from the summer of 1983. I’m not sure how I got lucky enough to capture Monet posters and a “deux chevaux” in the same frame:


I wish I had a photograph of posters advertising the Manet show at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais from that summer, but I don’t. I was 20 and didn’t know Manet would become my great love and my obsession.


Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Wonderful post! Love your sign and 1983 recollections … and that Manet exhibit at the Grand Palais!

    My late husband and I made our first trip to Paris together, as almost-newlyweds, in May 1983 and went to that one — where I fell in love with Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe! Don’t remember seeing Olympia there but she must have been (?) — I too would do anything to find a poster and/or catalogue. I googled around once with no luck – might have to try again!

    Cheers and congratulations on the Kirkus review!


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About Maureen Gibbon

Writer. Author of the novels Swimming Sweet Arrow, Thief, Paris Red.

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Artifacts, Publishing


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