Chapter 1 Guide

Chapter 1 Guide – Wheat Field with Crows

The Village of Auvers Sur Oise lay about ten minutes (by train) north of Paris, over the River Oise. Vincent lived here for several months after he left the sanitarium in Arles, after his famous breakdown in 1889.

The Inn where Vincent Van Gogh lived i in Auvers

This is the Inn in Auvers where Vincent lived. This picture taken in 2009.

“And what will I get for my hat. Will you tell my future?”
Vincent Van Gogh – Self-Portrait, 1887 (Original Painting in the Detroit Institute of Arts)
“She was thirteen, and blond, and though she would be a beauty one day, now she was gloriously, heartbreakingly plain.” Portrait of Adeline Ravoux, the innkeeper’s daughter, 1889
“Vincent paused at the base of the steps that had been built into the hillside.”
The stairs behind the Ravoux Inn at Auvers. Vincent – 1890
“He painted a final crow, just four brushstrokes to imply wings, then stepped back.” Wheatfield with Crows – Vincent, 1890 – Now at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Today, there is a sign at the junction of the three roads through the wheat and corn fields where Vincent painted his last painting.
“The church,” Vincent said. “There’s a painting of the church in my room at the inn. You can see, the church is not blue in life, but I painted it blue. I wanted to commune with God.” The Church at Auvers – 2009. Clearly not blue yet…
“You lie! I have been to the inn and seen your church. She is not in that painting.”Vincent’s painting of the Church at Auvers. 1890 (Now in the Musee D’Orsay in Paris)
“Vincent left the painting and the easel, picked a single, crushed tube of paint from his paint box and put it in his pocket, then, holding his chest, he trudged down the road that ran along the ridge above town a mile to Dr. Gachet’s house.” The road through the woods, along the ridge above Auvers. I took this in 2009. It was a hot August day, and the forest floor near the corn field was covered with brown leaves that smelled toasted in the heat. You could stop and hear them crackle in the heat. The corn stalks were starting to dry out, and in the slight breeze it sounded like faint applause when they rubbed together.
“He fell as he opened the iron gate at the foot of the stone steps that led through the terraced garden, then crawled to his feet and climbed, pausing at each step, leaning on the cool limestone, trying to catch his breath before taking the next.” The stairs at Dr. Gachet’s house today.
Theo Van Gogh – 1889
Theo lived on Montmartre, in Paris at the time of Vincent’s death. Dr. Gachet sent for him and he was at Vincent’s bedside the next day. Vincent lingered for three days before he died in Theo’s arms.
Vincent and Theo lay buried side by side, not two-hundred meters from the spot
where Wheatfield with Crows was painted.

39 thoughts on “Chapter 1 Guide

  1. I think this is a brilliant addition to the book, and I hope it ends up in the ebook. I believe that this type of supplemental content is what ebooks were designed for, not just to be PDF’s of the final galley’s of a book.

    Thank you for sharing.


    • really like this a lot. it enriches the whole experience. my favorite Van Gogh self-portrait hangs at the Art Institute of Chicago. It’s positively psychedelic.

    • Twenty years ago I walked into the Van Gogh room of the Musee D’Orsay and it totally blew me away. To this day I’ve seen no other man-made creation that comes close to the beauty I saw there.

  2. I live for each new book and I have converted several to Christopher Moore fans. The research detail is interesting and helpful to the process when one is a devout reader and maybe someday an author as well.

  3. Thanks for the guide. Really enjoyed it, and look forward to more in no particular order.

  4. DUDE!
    Will we be able to buy this guide, or must I go to my computer every time I finish a chapter? …because that may be difficult.

    …Even if the guide is available for an e-book, that would be convenient, too.

    • Red:
      The guide will be available as an Iphone and I hope, and Android app. I’d like to incorporate it into the e-book, but so far, that’s not in the works. I’m doing this completely on my own and with my web guy, and that sort of thing needs to go through the publisher. I know it’s not ideal, but so far that’s where we are. On the bright side: Chapter Guide!

      • I’m using the guide through Twitter. It’s marvy! I can even use it while reading the book on the treadmill.

  5. This is fantastic! Thank you for providing the extra content, I think it’ll really help bring the book to life (not that your writing needs help with that! :)) Very, very cool.

  6. Thank you. This chapter guide is a wonderful idea.
    My book is to be delivered today. I will steal time in order to read it as soon as I get it.

  7. I have thoroughly enjoyed every book of yours that I have read and I really appreciate how interactive you are with fans. You seem very genuine and that makes me happy. Being in contact with you is like being a part of history. Really. No joking.

  8. I love this blog. Great idea! Someone gave your book to me on my Kindle yesterday and I started it last night. So far, I love it, as I do all of your books. Can’t wait for work to be over, so I can read more!

  9. My book is supposed to arrive tomorrow, this guide is great! Thanks for posting it.

  10. I began reading Sacre Bleu today and was intrigued from page one. Unlike many other books I have read recently, I have decided to take my time and truly appreciate the story as it unfolds. As I read today, I had the sense that a journey was beginning and it was going to be fun. Tonight, I find this Chapter Guide and now I feel as though I am going on this journey with Christopher Moore through the fields and streets of France. The photos from your research honestly do enhance the words you have written. I look forward to see how the chapters progress in the book and, now, I feel as though I have a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the process that brought the story to these pages. Thank you, Author Guy, for taking me along!

  11. Years ago some friends gave me your book, The Lust Lizard of Meloncholy Cove. After that book, I devoured everyone you’ve written. I am traveling to Paris with those friends who do a photography seminar in Monet’s Gardens. Last week, Sacre Bleu pops up on my iPad with fabulous timing and the blog/guide is awesome with it! Great timing, thank you for sharing your writing with us!

  12. I have a longing now to revisit Paris. My last time there, the impressionist paintings were exiled to a location outside the Louvre, but is wasn’t Orsay . . . some place previously used for hand tennis I hink. Can’t recall the name. . It was staggering when I first saw the thickness of the paint on the VanGoghs, like it might take 100 years to dry. Guards were on the lookout for anyone trying to touch the paintings, but it seemed o.k for me to look real closely, touching the paint with my nose!!

  13. Fantastic addition to the book. I’m a research nut so this kind of content satisfies me on a probably unhealthy level. Thanks for doing this!

    • I also am a research nut. I love fiction that has a strong historical content. Just as a completed this fabulous, amazing novel the perfect non-fiction companion fell into my hands. The Greater Journey, Americans in Paris by David McCullough tells the story of Americans who traveled to Paris to enrich their lives, and how that in turn helped shape our culture here. He writes with great story telling flair about Paris from about 1830 on and I feel like I absolutely need to return to Montmarte and see it with new eyes.

  14. What a great idea. Thanks!
    This is cool to see since I may never make it over there to see myself.

  15. very good idea. I loved the colour pictures in the book, (who would have expected it) and this chapter guide is fantastic as a companion to the book. Just started reading the book last night. My first Christopher Moore book. It deserves an award for best designed book.

  16. Thanks Chris. I am trying not to cheat and read the chapter guide beforehand. So far success, but it is difficult.

  17. Thank you for the guide! I just started the book and these images are filling in the scenes for me. Though they do allow my imagination to go on hiatus, I am enjoying seeing things the way (I presume) you intended.

    PS you are my favourite author! Thank you for all your books – not just this chapter guide

  18. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I asked for (and received) this book for Mother’s Day. I have read a couple of your books and really enjoyed them! And my favorite color is blue AND I love books like The Lady and the Unicorn and Luncheon of the Boating Party that take real art and “tell” the story behind the art – it amazes me! I am only on Chapter 3, but was taking a break because I wanted to google Pissarro and van Gogh to try to find some of the images that you have “painted” with words. How wonderful that you have done all the work for me! I probably won’t get much sleep in the coming days…thank you for writing this book and creating this chapter guide!!!!!

    • “…the soft applause of the cornstalks in the breeze…” love this phrase!!!

  19. This is awesome! Thank you so much for sharing your research with us. Your only problem is that now you’ve spoiled us and we’re going to expect this for all of your books.

    • Well, all of my books don’t necessarily lend themselves to this kind of treatment. I do make a lot of stuff up.

  20. I’m listening to the book on CD for the second time!!! It adds a whole new dimension as the reader captures the accent and mood perfectly. I’m driving my family nuts because I make them listen to descrptions of paintings and places with me – like it or not!! I also can’t put down the guide. Thank you.

  21. Bought your beautiful hardcover edition of “Sacre Bleu” instead of the Kindle version and I am SO glad I did. What a beautiful book! This site just adds to the fun I am having reading your work for the first time. I am looking forward to reading more. Thank you for the wonderful experience!
    ps my husband is a painter…

  22. Just loved the richness of your book! Your affection, respect and admiration for these artists and the time in which they lived just shone right through your writing. I laughed many times and yet also felt like I was on a magical time travel journey. This guide is sensational – a brilliant idea and I wish I had found it before my book group met so we could have had even richer discussions. I immediately went and read Renoir, My Father which was a lovely way to extend your book.

  23. I am curious abut what your thoughts are on the newest theory of Van Gogh’s death – that he did not shoot himself but was shot by another. It seems like your colorman fits that rather nicely.

    • It makes complete sense. It occurred to me as soon as I found out he was shot in the abdomen, that’s why I decided to open the book with his death.

  24. I am listening to the audio book and had made up my mind to look up each painting referenced in the book. I stumbled upon a treasure. Thank you!

  25. This is wonderful. Thank you for providing an even deeper emersion into this period in history you’ve recreated.

    You, sir, are awesome.