Belle Provence Travels

A South of France Blog

Greetings dear readers and friends. I’m very excited to have a book giveaway for on the blog today. And what a book it is! Renoir’s Dancer, by Catherine Hewitt, transported me clear across France – from a small village in Limoges to the bohemian streets of Montemartre in Paris; and from the circus to the intimate chambers of some of the world’s most famous artists. From the title, I had expected a somewhat whimsical tale of a captivating beauty who managed to discreetly grab the attention of artists like Renoir. Well, not in the least.

The story is actually a highly-detailed, richly told, account of a fearless young lady who literally pulled herself up by her bootstraps to find her place in 19th century France. And to say that this period in French history was largely male-dominated would be putting it lightly. Our heroine, born out of wedlock in quite impoverished conditions, emerges as a force to be reckoned with that would give any modern-day feminists a run for their money.

When her mother moves to Paris to try to make a better life for the family, Marie-Clémentine (who later changes her name to Maria and then Suzanne) grows up on the streets of Montemartre, running barefoot with her fellow companions and frequenting the cafés made famous by the likes of Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Degas – to name a few.

She later runs circles around the sisters at the local Catholic school, who profess to being incapable of keeping up with her acrobatics. But soon such “unruly” behavior, and literal turns and flips around the school courtyard, lead Marie-Clémentine to an actual calling in life. Still a teenager, she becomes one of the star acts in Molière’s circus – one of the most popular spectacles in all of Paris at the time.

As someone who shuns rules and regulations, this sort of eclectic lifestyle fits perfectly with Marie-Clémentine’s personality and she thrives in the circus environment. Tragically, all is cut short as she suffers a fall which, although not life-altering, erases all her chances of ever performing again.

But as with all inventive and tenacious women before her, Marie-Clémentine decides to reinvent herself as an artist’s model; secretly training herself to became an artist and gain access to their world.

And then things really get interesting. As the author writes, “Each artist saw in her what they wanted, but she belonged to no one”.

I hope I’ve been able to pique your interest because this is indeed one interesting tale and one extraordinary woman.

To see what adventures and exploits Marie-Clémentine gets up to next, the book is now out on Amazon.com and the publishers are giving away 1 free copy of the book to Belle Provence readers.

 

BOOK GIVEAWAY ————–

To enter to win a free copy of Renoir’s Dancer, please tell us what inspires you about France in the comments below.

One winner will be chosen on Monday, March 19th at 12pm (EST) using Random.org.

Thank you for your participation and good luck!

21 thoughts on “Renoir’s Dancer… {Book Giveaway}

  1. Hurder Kathleen says:

    What inspires me most are the French Impressionist and the stunning light of Provence for painting.
    I deeply enjoy the leisure time at the table for every meal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tuula says:

      Many thanks for your entry Kathleen!

      Like

  2. Mary Lindenstein says:

    Sadly, I have never been to France, but as a newly retired secondary school teacher, I am looking forward to more travels, especially to Provence. I have been inspired to see Provence by art, books, blogs, web sites, movies, and first person accounts. I want to bask in the unique light of Provence, which has inspired so many artists, smell the French lavender and special Provencal soap, and drink French wine and champagne. A bien tôt!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tuula says:

      Those are all great French things to get excited about Mary! Thank you very much for your entry and I hope you get to France, and Provence, very soon! Tuula

      Like

  3. Rina Horenian says:

    I love France and all things French — the food, the art, the cities, the cafes and so much more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tuula says:

      Many thanks for your entry Rina!

      Like

  4. Jill hsrdesty says:

    I Love Provence!! The beauty of the Lavender, the blue sky ,the wonderful goat cheese salads, the Great wines and of course the delightful people who live there!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tuula says:

      Those are all great things to love! Thank you for your comment, Jill.

      Like

  5. Kathleene says:

    France grabs me by the heart. The architecture, culture, importance of family, art and history. France was the first country I visited outside of the US, many years ago. I return again and again – its pull on me is something I cannot describe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tuula says:

      France is a pretty special place… I agree with everything you mentioned, it’s a great country to visit or live in. Thank you for entering!

      Like

  6. Meryl Dillon says:

    France has been a fascination for me since I was a teenager learning the language, culture and history. I am a true Francophile and adore everything about the country from its art, history, people, scenery, climate, food and fashion. What’s not to inspire?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tuula says:

      Thank you for your comment Meryl… and I agree, what’s not to love about France? Have a great day, Tuula

      Like

  7. Deidre says:

    I love the beauty of the presentation in France. From food to art and fashion the attention to detail is breathtaking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tuula says:

      Couldn’t agree more! Thank you for your entry Deidre.

      Like

  8. Jennifer Kuzman says:

    I am inspired by the culture in France, the people, the historic architecture, and the food!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tuula says:

      Thank you for entering the giveaway Jennifer!

      Like

  9. Sherry Soobotin says:

    France captured my imagination a long time ago as a sort of magical place, more cultured and sophisticated than the other European nations in the early medieval period of Charlemagne; in the raising of culinary arts when a Medici princess became queen of France and missed her exquisite Italian cuisine; in the beauty of the language. I’ve yet to visit in reality, but “Renoir’s Dancer” sounds like another literary journey to this magical land.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tuula says:

      That’s a very lovely comment, thank you Sherry! Hope you get to visit France soon and thanks for entering the book giveaway. Tuula

      Like

  10. ramblingtart says:

    This sounds like such a brilliant book, Tuula. I’m inspired by how France is itself, without shame or explanation, doing what it values and not giving a toss what others think. I value that a great deal these days. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tuula says:

      Thanks so much for your entry Krista… France is indeed a pretty special place!

      Like

  11. Tuula says:

    A big “merci” to everyone who participated in the giveaway and the winner is… Mary Lindenstein!

    Wishing you all a lovely day and thank you again for all of your wonderful comments! Tuula

    Like

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