Guide to the Chapter Guide

Who Knew?

When I’ve written historical novels in the past, I always stumbled into a hole in history, a time or person about which very little was known (Jesus Christ and King Lear), so I was able to fill out the story by making up a lot of details and filling in the story around what we did know, or in the case of Lear, what Shakespeare had imagined. But when I decided to write a novel based around the Impressionist and Post Impressionist art movements in France, I had no idea what an overwhelming wealth of information I’d have to draw on.

While no one knew where Jesus was for most of thirty years, I could pretty-much find out what each of the Impressionists had for breakfast on any given day. I was nearly four years doing the research, including living in Paris for a couple of months, learning to speak French at very “Tarzan/Jane” level, and learning  how to paint (a little). I even wrote the entire manuscript of Bite Me while I was researching Sacré Bleu. Finally, with a deadline looming, I had to stop researching and just write the book. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t more to learn, and in the case of painting, more to see, and thus, I’ve created this guide.

Mostly I’ve tried here to fill in the visuals for the paintings that we simply couldn’t put in the book, as well as give you a geographical and historical context where I could. But even as I put this guide together I realize there were many things about the period and the art that I didn’t know, and few things that I got wrong. I’m a novelist, not a historian, and I’m far more comfortable with making stuff up than with looking it up. So you may find errors and omissions in this guide. I’m going to try to keep this blog and app alive and updated, so if you find a mistake, say so in the comments field. (Cite your source, if you know it.) Don’t be a jerk about it, just let me know, and I’ll try to fix it.

Together, we’ll all learn something.

A Note on the art and photographs.

To the best of our knowledge, the art and photographs in this blog are either in the public domain and have been obtained from public domain sources or have been created by us for this blog. If you suspect that any material infringes on copyright, please e-mail me directly at and I will take it down immediately.

Commenting has been disabled

Unfortunately we’ve had to disable comments for the time being. If you have any questions about Sacré Bleu, you can e-mail me at


25 thoughts on “Guide to the Chapter Guide

  1. I’m looking forward to your new book. I met you at a signing in Half Moon Bay and appreciate your glibness. Looking forward to many books to come.

    Your “guide” for the new book made me wonder, how do you approach your writing. do you just sit down and type or do you do the crazy “index card” nonsense”? Do you build a story line formally and structure your work in some byzantine method? I guess I’m really asking “how do you work?”. Just askin. I’ll by your book whether you respond or not, I know I’m asking a lot of silly questions.

    • For a book like this, there’s a fair amount of outlining because it has to conform with history. I use timelines, that I put together on big sketch pads, just to make sure I have the events in an order that will work. I don’t approach all of my books that way, but the historicals tend to have more of an outline.

      • Reading it at odd moments, Chris. When not eating, sleeping, farting about on the Net, watching golf, I’m reading. Good stuff. I’ll consult this guide if I need to, but doing peachily thus far. Btw, who kills Humperdinck?

  2. My I add a link to a googlemaps page of 1900’s Paris? I love maps and enjoy following the characters of books using them as well. Btw, this is a wonderful idea, Chris. I read Angels and Demons using my laptop to visit the places and art in Rome as I encountered them in the book. You have taken that ideal and made it 100 times better with your input, thank you very much.

    P.S. Am on pg. 82 and the baker Papa Lessard has had me laughing so hard more than once that Docteur Poivre was ejected nasally.

  3. Enjoying Sacred Bleu immensely thus far and am very impressed with the historical accuracies. In fact have been touting the historical components.

  4. This is an awesome feature that will make enjoying my beatiful hardcopy of the book (that just arrived a few days ago from SF) even more fun. Is it being included IN FULL in the ebook or iBook? It should be.

  5. One thing I have always liked about you is that you seem to leave yourself so accessible to your readers. I thank you for that. This and your website, twitter etc…cause you to seem like an actual person & not just some dude raking in bucks for what I presume (and hope) you love doing. (funny, electronic action reads as human in this case).Everytime I read one of your books I grow concerned it will be your last one, thank you for continuing to write.

  6. This guide is great! Thank you very much!

    I’ve never been much interested in art. Obviously all it needed was a good story with the paintings. Kind of what they did with Mamma Mia or We Will Rock You. It turns out, with paintings it’s much more interesting and educational.

    You really make me want to go to Paris. Seems I missed a lot the last time I was there!

  7. Just a short note of thanks for providing this guide. I have been listening to the book via Audible and appreciate the capability to explore the painting provided by this Chapter by Chapter annotation. (The narration is wonderful by the way.) Spent just a short time in Paris this past winter and discovered the city’s allure which had eluded me before. Have since listened to A Moveable Feast and now this book. Longing for a return trip some time.

  8. Just received Sacre Bleu and can’t wait to begin reading. I have not been able to figure out who created the front cover art. Also, do you mind if I tatoo the image onto my Mexican Hairless Dog?

  9. I love the Audible version of Sacre Bleu, I wish I hadn’t finished it, that it went on forever. If the sequel involved the expressionists or the later styles that followed I would freak. I have studied, admired and enjoyed art for 40 years, especially impressionism. I have been painting as long and have painted numerous impressionist style canvases. You have brought to life the artists I have longed to meet. Now it feels like they are old friends. Thank you for filling that void and giving personalities to these creative geniuses. I will read any and all the books you have written and will write in the future. Please be as proliferate as Monet!

  10. Pingback: What We’re Reading: May 2012 | Chasing Reference

  11. After finishing Sacré Bleu this morning I sent for some of the books mentioned in the Afterword to ease withdrawal. And now I discover this great gift… thank you for wrting

  12. Pingback: Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art | Loose Logic

  13. Being someone who spends a great deal of time in my car, I frequently sing the praises of audiobooks; however, this is one of those cases where I’m glad I opted to read a physical representation of this tale. (sounds snobbish, I know) I am really enjoying both the book and this guide. Thank you so much.

  14. Having just viewed The Impressionists of the Clark Collection, I wished I had read this book first. This brings a whole new meaning to the movement. Thank you Chris for another great book.

  15. Is there a reason you published the book with deckle edges? Did this add to the cost of publication. I like it but you don’t see it often. Does it have significance?

    • It wasn’t my decision. I think it does cost more, but I’m not sure why they did it except maybe to give the book a hand-made feel because of all the art and the nice endpapers.

  16. Pingback: Sacré Bleu, by Christopher Moore « Blogging for a Good Book

  17. I just finished Sacre Blue and loved it! I have been an avid fan for 8-9 years now and have copies of all your work. (I have to constantly purchase additional copies as I keep giving mine away) This one has special meaning for me as I have been a lifelong fan of impressionism. My entire house is decorated in impressionist art prints. Mostly Monet, but including works by Van Gogh, Renoir, Cezanne, Gauguin, Chase, and Hassam. Thank you Mr. Moore for bringing my favorite artists to life and for the endless hours of enjoyment I have received from your work!