Rodin's Lover

Rodin's Lover: A Novel - Heather Webb

Rodin's Lover is the story of Camille Claudel, French sculptor and artist in the late 1800's. She was the oldest sister of Paul Claudel who was a poet and diplomat.  As a young woman she studied with sculptor Alfred Boucher who became her mentor. She studied with him for three years then Boucher asked Auguste Rodin to take over the lessons.  Rodin is best noted for his The Gates of Hell, which depicted scenes from Dante's Inferno and The Thinker, the nude male posed with his chin in his hand. There was an attraction immediately and they became lovers. Camille also modeled for Rodin and she started working in his studio.

 

Even though they were intimate for a long time, Rodin was reluctant to leave his long time partner Rose Beuret. Camille was a moody young lady who became angry with Rodin frequently over Rose and his unwillingness to leave her for Camille even though he loved her desperately. After an abortion she ended the relationship with Rodin.She started showing her work and gained recognition but she was still unhappy. Her mental health got to be so bad she became slovenly and uncommunicative to the point that her brother Paul had her committed to to an asylum where she stayed the rest of her life.

 

This was such a bittersweet story, two volatile artists unable to commit to each other, I think that if this had been a different era things may have worked out between the two of them. I liked most of the characters in the book, except Camille's mother. What a horrible person she was, no wonder why Camille had mental issues. I vaguely remember learning about Rodin is school and I was familiar with The Thinker but I knew nothing about Camille Claudel. I believe the author did extensive research into the main characters in the story and I found I learned a lot about them and sculpting. I really enjoyed this fast reading historical novel. Heather Webb's first novel was Becoming Josephine, which I also read, reviewed and loved. If you love historical fiction then I highly recommend both books.