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Book By Author:  John T. Mac Dougall

René Bernard
 René Bernard
 Action / Adventure
Date Reviewed:   



A picturesque journey into the past of a young Impressionist artist.


Take a picturesque journey into the past following the life of René Bernard, a young Impressionist artist trying to find his way. Author John T. Mac Dougall introduces the reader to the French sea side village of Etang de Thau in 1864 and the birth of René. Generations of hard working oyster fisherman and fisher woman have worked the 100 year leases to pass down to their children. But this day they are celebrating the birth of a new oysterman. Mac Dougall quickly shows the flavour of his style of writing in the first chapter. Not only does he visually paint village life in brilliant detail, he takes the reader into the kitchen with old recipes handed down throughout time. I was salivating reading the ingredients and the methods used to draw out the flavours of the celebratory feast for René. The story then jumps a few years and readers learn that René was born slight and will never be able to handle the rigors of being an oysterman. What he finds is a passion for the arts and painting. His big sister Marie encourages this and also funds his schooling to become a true artist and this is where the story takes a turn. René, now a young man, makes his way to Paris to find fame and fortune.

Mac Dougall takes great care in the details throughout the novel. For some readers that may be a distraction from the story line, but for many it will bring richness to a period piece of literature. His research into how life was in those years is astonishing. The one thing, among others, that I did find fascinating as I read about René finding love in Paris, is that we have not changed as a species throughout time. This is evident as René, being from a small village, is drawn into the dark web of deceit, betrayal, lust and addictions which is handed out like candy by a host of unscrupulous villains. Can René pull himself away from this life or will he end up as forgotten artist? Only time will tell. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey of René Bernard and I hope you do too.



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Author:  John T. Mac Dougall