War and Turpentine

War and Turpentine

A Novel

Book - 2016
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"An international best seller: a vivid, masterly novel about a Flemish man who reconstructs his grandfather's story--his hopes, loves, and art, all disrupted by the First World War--from the unflinching notebooks he filled with pieces of his life. The life of Urbain Martien--artist, soldier, survivor of World War I--lies contained in two notebooks he left behind when he died in 1981. His grandson, a writer, retells his story, the notebooks giving him the impetus to imagine his way into the locked chambers of Urbain's memory. He vividly recounts a whole life: Urbain as the child of a lowly church painter, retouching his father's work; dodging death in a foundry; fighting in the war that altered the course of history; marrying the sister of the woman he truly loved; haunted by an ever-present reminder of the artist he had hoped to be and the soldier he was forced to become. Wrestling with this story, Urbain's grandson straddles past and present, searching for a way to understand his own part in both. As artfully rendered as a Renaissance fresco, War and Turpentine paints an extraordinary portrait of one man's life and reveals how that life echoed down through the generations. (With black-and-white illustrations throughout.)"-- Provided by publisher.
"In this vivid and masterful novel, a Flemish man reconstructs his grandfather's story--his life, loves, and art, all disrupted by the first World War--from the unflinching notebooks he left behind. Short Description War and Turpentine centers on two men distanced by time: a religious painter whose life is changed forever by World War One; and his grandson, a writer reckoning with his grandfather's story. The life of Urbain Martien--artist, soldier, survivor of the incomprehensible--lies contained in two notebooks written before his death in 1981. His grandson, a writer, imagines his way into the locked chambers of Urbain's memory: retouching church paintings as a boy, dodging death in an iron foundry, and, ultimately, fighting the war that altered the course of human history. There is Urbain's father, the lowly church painter; Urbain's wife, Gabrielle, his true love's sister; and Urbain's canvas, the ever-present reminder of the artist he wanted to be and the soldier he was forced to become. Wrestling with this story, the narrator straddles past and present, searching for a place in both. As artfully rendered as a Renaissance fresco, War and Turpentine paints the extraordinary story of one man's life and the echo of its impact resounding through the generations. Translated from the Dutch by David McKay"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York :, Pantheon,, 2016
ISBN: 9781101874028
1101874023
Characteristics: 290 pages ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: McKay, David 1973-- Translator

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uncommonreader
Mar 25, 2018

This is a memoir of an ordinary man written by his grandson, a well-known Flemish poet. His grandfather grew up in poverty, was a hero in World War I and spent the latter decades of his life painting. The description of the experience of trench warfare is excellent. Overall, the book is elegant and very well-written. I enjoyed it.

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peacebenow
Mar 28, 2017

Hard to believe this book is fiction. Beginning and end harder to follow due to unfamiliarity w/ all paintings. Middle a great synopsis of The Great War and being right in the middle of the War. A great story w/ inventive story line. I'd like to assume this is at least partially true.

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