I always get intimate with my characters. Since it takes me years to write a book, that’s bound to happen—I live with my characters day in and day out. But I also mean that I experience great physical closeness with them. I know what their faces and bodies look like, and I often know how […]

I haven’t blogged for several weeks because I’ve been busy working on the final editorial changes to Paris Red. In a couple of instances, I had to examine the key relationships in the book and bring a little more clarity to them, and to do that, I had to go deeply back into the novel. I […]

Last week I wrote about how Marville’s old photographs of Paris allowed me to enter Victorine’s world. I needed that gift from the past, the history provided by Marville. But the flow goes both ways: there are some things of mine, from the present, that I gave to Victorine. It’s what novelists do:  we give pieces […]

I don’t know if I would have been able to write the story of Victorine Meurent without the work of another artist—and I don’t just mean Manet, the man who painted her over and over. I mean that without the photos of Charles Marville, or Charles François Bossu, I would have had much more difficulty imagining […]

The photograph above was taken by Félix-Jacques Antoine Moulin in 1852 and is in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF). Art historian Beatrice Farwell believes the woman in the photo is Manet’s model, Victorine Meurent. Here’s another of Moulin’s photos of the woman Farwell believes is Meurent: In Farwell’s 1981 dissertation Manet and the Nude, a Study in […]

Red

Above, corset from the Metropolitan Museum at FIT. Red wool, silk, steel and whalebone, circa 1880. So, not strictly from Victorine’s time of posing for Manet, but close.

Do you see the resemblance that I see?  Or am I just in love? How about this: Each age has its own muse—or maybe she keeps coming back.  What do you think? All I know for certain is that I love these two women, and am moved by their images and their lives.