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The Blue Period

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A riveting novel about the tragic romance that nearly destroyed a young Pablo Picasso—while granting him his first flight of creative genius. From rowdy Barcelona barrooms to the incandescent streets of turn-of-the-century Paris, Pablo Picasso experiences the sumptuous highs and seedy lows of bohemian life alongside his rebellious poet friend with a shadowy past, Carles C A riveting novel about the tragic romance that nearly destroyed a young Pablo Picasso—while granting him his first flight of creative genius. From rowdy Barcelona barrooms to the incandescent streets of turn-of-the-century Paris, Pablo Picasso experiences the sumptuous highs and seedy lows of bohemian life alongside his rebellious poet friend with a shadowy past, Carles Casagemas.Fleeing family misfortune and their parents’ expectations, the two young artists seek their creative outlet while chasing inspiration in drugs, decadence, and the liberated women of Montmartre—creatures far different from the veiled ones back home.The new life feels like bliss, and nothing can come between them…until a dark-haired, enigmatic muse enters the picture. The two artists’ passion for Germaine will lead to a devastating turn. Amid soul-searching and despair, however, Picasso discovers a color palette in which to render his demons and paint himself into lasting history.Bringing the exuberance of the era vividly to life, this richly imagined portrait of Picasso’s coming of age intertwines the love, death, lust, and friendships that inspired the immortal works of a defiant master.


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A riveting novel about the tragic romance that nearly destroyed a young Pablo Picasso—while granting him his first flight of creative genius. From rowdy Barcelona barrooms to the incandescent streets of turn-of-the-century Paris, Pablo Picasso experiences the sumptuous highs and seedy lows of bohemian life alongside his rebellious poet friend with a shadowy past, Carles C A riveting novel about the tragic romance that nearly destroyed a young Pablo Picasso—while granting him his first flight of creative genius. From rowdy Barcelona barrooms to the incandescent streets of turn-of-the-century Paris, Pablo Picasso experiences the sumptuous highs and seedy lows of bohemian life alongside his rebellious poet friend with a shadowy past, Carles Casagemas.Fleeing family misfortune and their parents’ expectations, the two young artists seek their creative outlet while chasing inspiration in drugs, decadence, and the liberated women of Montmartre—creatures far different from the veiled ones back home.The new life feels like bliss, and nothing can come between them…until a dark-haired, enigmatic muse enters the picture. The two artists’ passion for Germaine will lead to a devastating turn. Amid soul-searching and despair, however, Picasso discovers a color palette in which to render his demons and paint himself into lasting history.Bringing the exuberance of the era vividly to life, this richly imagined portrait of Picasso’s coming of age intertwines the love, death, lust, and friendships that inspired the immortal works of a defiant master.

30 review for The Blue Period

  1. 5 out of 5

    John Stephens

    An amazing ride! To be quite honest, I’m not a fan of Picasso’s work for the most part. I respect his talent, it just doesn’t appeal to my eye (give me Monet instead), but this book came up on my First Reads list and sounded like fun. It was more than fun, it’s a beautifully set piece of history told in a fictional style and, in a locale that I love (Paris), and was just a stellar read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Chatlien

    DNF. One look at my book list would reveal I love books about artists. Not this one. I found the writing style clumsy and the story seedy and uninspiring. I finally gave up about 40% into the book. It may have been free as an Amazon Prime First Read but the cost in time of finishing it is just too high.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Broken and Depressed This book teaches more about the seedier side of Paris than about Picasso . Too much sex including prostitutes, models, each other and the prevalence of syphilis than I personally wanted or needed to know. I gave this a 3 star rating instead of the 2 star rating I wanted to originally give this book simply because it did tell about many intimate social issues of that time . The Blue period was very much about the the plight of a starving artist.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    I was really hoping this story would immerse me in the art world of Picasso, but it really just focused on all his whoring around. I kept reading hoping I would get to a part that would draw me in, but I’m finally calling it quits.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Only Wants to Read

    4-5 (I wish it would have included photos or excerpts of the letters referenced in the work) This book was my June's selection of Amazon First Reads. From the moment I saw the cover, I knew I had to read it. What I didn't know was how fascinating the story would be. Even though it is historical fiction, the author discusses at the end of the book his extensive research to develop this story. I have always know who Picasso was, and I knew about his different periods, but I didn't know why the blue 4-5 (I wish it would have included photos or excerpts of the letters referenced in the work) This book was my June's selection of Amazon First Reads. From the moment I saw the cover, I knew I had to read it. What I didn't know was how fascinating the story would be. Even though it is historical fiction, the author discusses at the end of the book his extensive research to develop this story. I have always know who Picasso was, and I knew about his different periods, but I didn't know why the blue period happened. The tragic and emotional story behind the endless cerulean and cobalt blue strokes. There is no way to say there are "spoilers" in this review, as one can just read about it online. Picasso's life is well documented, after all. It was the way the story was revealed and carefully elaborated what made it special to me. I felt as if I was back in 1901 Paris when Montmartre was considered the poor and red district of Paris, instead of the fashionable and fancy neighborhood it has become in the present. I loved reading about old Barcelona, about the Catalans endless (to this date) internal conflict with Spain. A subject as old as back when the Borgias ruled Italy, and as fresh as reading today's news. I felt Pablo's hunger and cold struggle with poverty. His conflictive relationship with his father, the infinite drive to succeed regardless of the obstacles he faced. I mourned the death of Carles Casagemas with him. One has to really see the Blue Period artwork to feel the sadness and despair he experienced during that time. It seems as if he always knew there was something different about him. He called it "Duende in the book, and it is a difficult expression to translate. Some kind of magic within himself. I wonder if at any time in his older years--as he was a wealthy and renown artist--if he reminisced about these times, and if he did, what he made out of it. From unknown starving artist to icon in a long lifetime. I would have read this book in one sitting, but I found myself doing my own research and spending hours on museums websites, and reading multiple articles linked to this story. I have been so rewarded by finding more information about most of the people mentioned in the book and being able to look at the artwork referred to in the story with new eyes, and seeing Picasso not just as "the father of Cubism," but as a human being. I always thought this was a strange painting that did not make any sense. I can see now, that it makes all the sense, and perfectly summarizes the life-changing experiences of his youth. Picasso, "La Vie", 1903

  6. 5 out of 5

    Judith

    I had mixed feelings about reading this book. After viewing an exhibit of Picasso's painting I came away with admiration of his skill and artistry but also apalledd wlth his apparent hatred of women. He used and abused women in his life. The book is a good, informative read of his young life as he found his fortune in Spain and Paris. It treats him as a person not an icon. Recommenced for all who like to read about the awakening and flourishing of the art process.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gabriela

    A very informative and beautifully written book by Luke Jerod Kummer! Great insight into the beginnings of Picasso's genius and successful career ...a must read !

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ira Therebel

    I find the idea of historical fiction with a real life person to be pretty interesting. And this one was about young Picasso during his time in Paris. So pretty fascinating. But it ended up being pretty disappointing. It was so incredibly boring. I didn't feel like much was happening. I didn't feel the personality and connections of the characters, I didn't feel the atmosphere. And this again with almost no actual story. I have a feeling that an actual biography of Picasso could be much more inte I find the idea of historical fiction with a real life person to be pretty interesting. And this one was about young Picasso during his time in Paris. So pretty fascinating. But it ended up being pretty disappointing. It was so incredibly boring. I didn't feel like much was happening. I didn't feel the personality and connections of the characters, I didn't feel the atmosphere. And this again with almost no actual story. I have a feeling that an actual biography of Picasso could be much more interesting if written in a better way. And in this case I wonder why write a novel if it doesn't add anything to the character in it? I give it an extra point just because it seemed to be well researched and makes me want to read more about the artist and time period.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jill Paschal

    Remarkable I have to say when I first began reading this book, I wasn’t quite sure that I would be much interested in finishing it, but I am thrilled that I did. This book reads like “The Paris Wife”, but unlike the fore mentioned book, The Blue Period offers the reader a true insight to Pablo Picasso’s early life and his struggles to make a name for himself. Description throughout the book is written superbly drawing the reader deeper into this historical fiction. I had to stop-pause for a mome Remarkable I have to say when I first began reading this book, I wasn’t quite sure that I would be much interested in finishing it, but I am thrilled that I did. This book reads like “The Paris Wife”, but unlike the fore mentioned book, The Blue Period offers the reader a true insight to Pablo Picasso’s early life and his struggles to make a name for himself. Description throughout the book is written superbly drawing the reader deeper into this historical fiction. I had to stop-pause for a moment to remember that it was actually fiction as one starts to truly believe that you’re there witnessing what’s taking place. Having visited Barcelona and the Picasso museum, I have a much greater appreciation of the artist work and the deeper meanings behind his earlier pieces. It makes me want to revisit Barcelona and view the city through the “bugeyes” (term used in the book) of Pablo. What an unexpected and truly good read that I stumbled upon!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Skott

    The beginning of Picasso Wonderfully researched historical fiction and you feel like you are in Picasso's head at points in the book. You also find yourself screaming at Picasso for sliding back to obscurity...you will know what I mean when you get there. You will smell the sea air in Malaga and walk the streets of Montmartre with Picasso. It is that good a book!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Diana Williams

    Picaso This I enjoyed because it was about Picaso an artist I love. I had not heard much about his early life. His struggle to start painting was immense. His young life was hard, so he had the blue period. It was a nice change of pace.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Piotr Halaczkiewicz

    A well told story that paints Picasso’s early life in words I wasn’t sure what to expect but once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. I knew little about Picasso’s life or art and thanks to the book, not only have a better understanding behind his early work, but also the life of artists and people of the period. I would recommend this for anyone who wants a great story about life and how it shapes us.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

    Enthralling While this novel may be fiction, it was quite fascinating. I really felt like I was inside Pablo's head while reading. All of his pain, his struggles, his loss, I felt like I was there with him throughout all of it. I got this book as a First Read, and I'm very glad that I did.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Luanne Smith

    Engaging and thoughtfully written. I'd been researching the period and Picasso's early years in Paris already, so the subject and style both appealed to me. Found it very interesting.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bonnye Reed

    Amazon First Reads, June 2019

  16. 5 out of 5

    john calkin

    Make sure you have your expectations in line before you start this novel. It is not about art appreciation. It is not about art instruction. It is not about art history. It is not a warm and fuzzy read. It is a biography of Picasso's life until the time he is 20 or so. It is about artists in Spain and France who make no money yet are prepared to go hungry and dirty rather than give up their devotion to their calling, with a strong focus on Picasso's personal trials with critics, gallery owners, Make sure you have your expectations in line before you start this novel. It is not about art appreciation. It is not about art instruction. It is not about art history. It is not a warm and fuzzy read. It is a biography of Picasso's life until the time he is 20 or so. It is about artists in Spain and France who make no money yet are prepared to go hungry and dirty rather than give up their devotion to their calling, with a strong focus on Picasso's personal trials with critics, gallery owners, suicide, insanity, abortion, sex, and love. It is an uncomfortable read, but the writing is mostly tight, original, and often inspired. I'm glad I read it, and also glad when I finished it. A full biography of Picasso would likely turn lighter as he gained success, I don't know. When Lou Reed sang, 'Hey, babe, take a walk on the wild side," it is understood that he also meant the dark side. If that invitation sounded alluring to you, you will like this book. It is dark. But it happened---Kummer's documentation is strong. It is "Midnight Cowboy" with an art background. When the character of Picasso is asked why he wants to paint imprisoned women, he says it is because the world needs to see them. I think Kummer wrote this book for the same reason---the world needs to know what it was like.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Grim reading If the author intended for his readers to become as depressed as Picasso was in his early years, he succeeded. This novel depicts the childhood and young adulthood of this prolific artist. Taught to paint by his father, he escapes to Paris to find himself and gets embroiled in a life full of poverty and debauchery that would depress the most positive among us. His best friend's suicide and a bout with syphilis send him into a tailspin. But he never stops painting. If anything, he pai Grim reading If the author intended for his readers to become as depressed as Picasso was in his early years, he succeeded. This novel depicts the childhood and young adulthood of this prolific artist. Taught to paint by his father, he escapes to Paris to find himself and gets embroiled in a life full of poverty and debauchery that would depress the most positive among us. His best friend's suicide and a bout with syphilis send him into a tailspin. But he never stops painting. If anything, he paints at a frenzied pace, but his subject matter changes to the poor, and the sick, mostly prostitutes in an asylum, and all his paintings are in shades of blue. The beginning of the book is very difficult to read. It is pretentious and obscure. It isn't until Part Three that the anonymous narrator's prose doesn't get in the way of the story. The author can be commended for the amount of research that went into this glimpse into the life of this very interesting artist. But I'm sure there are better biographies than this fictionalized version. I wouldn't have read it had I been forewarned.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tavia Olive

    Great historical fiction! I loved reading about Picasso’s early life in Spain and eagerly looked up the images of each painting as it was mentioned in the book. It was really nice to see how he progressed from one style to the next and to understand what events *might* have precipitated each style. I have been to some of the cities and areas where Picasso spent his life, and I have to say the author really found a way to bring these places to life as not just backdrops, but characters. Much of th Great historical fiction! I loved reading about Picasso’s early life in Spain and eagerly looked up the images of each painting as it was mentioned in the book. It was really nice to see how he progressed from one style to the next and to understand what events *might* have precipitated each style. I have been to some of the cities and areas where Picasso spent his life, and I have to say the author really found a way to bring these places to life as not just backdrops, but characters. Much of this was done in an intentionally overly descriptive way, as if he was painting the scene. I appreciated the author’s intentions there. My only negative with this book was that it felt a bit long winded at times. It felt like it took a long time to read - although this was probably exacerbated by my need to look up every new character and painting! A big positive? Reading a Historical fiction book where the political climate/war was not the driving force of the plot, but rather a side event. It was refreshing.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Scott

    Very good and complete picture of this fascinating and extremely complex man from his youth on. His early training, his relationship with his father, the gradual decline in his family's economic and social position, and the disruptive moves around Spain and later, France. I had the good luck to see some of the very early, classical paintings he did as a teenager years ago in Barcelona. It was a great surprise and this small exhibition had no explanatory labeling. Now I understand! It was also su Very good and complete picture of this fascinating and extremely complex man from his youth on. His early training, his relationship with his father, the gradual decline in his family's economic and social position, and the disruptive moves around Spain and later, France. I had the good luck to see some of the very early, classical paintings he did as a teenager years ago in Barcelona. It was a great surprise and this small exhibition had no explanatory labeling. Now I understand! It was also surprising to learn how he became a wildly popular painter at the age of 19. The life experiences that led to his unique way of seeing was really mind expanding in trying to understand his evolution. The actual structural writing of the book was very straight forward third person, so the fact that it was a biographical novel, not pure history, is easily forgotten. But the author did comprehensive research and presented the most likely early life story of Picasso. Yes, there was lots of sex, drugs and drunkeness, but that was the lifestyle of his group at that time.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Linz Bassett

    It's been a while since I've put something on my disappointing shelf. Unfortunately, this had to go on there. I didn't feel like anything ever actually happened in The Blue Period by Luke Jerod Kummer. It felt very repetitive and uninteresting. The language, specifically the dialogue, was awkward and hard to get through. I thought it'd be a lot more about the paintings than what was there. When it went into details of his paintings, the book was interesting. Unfortunately, most of the story was It's been a while since I've put something on my disappointing shelf. Unfortunately, this had to go on there. I didn't feel like anything ever actually happened in The Blue Period by Luke Jerod Kummer. It felt very repetitive and uninteresting. The language, specifically the dialogue, was awkward and hard to get through. I thought it'd be a lot more about the paintings than what was there. When it went into details of his paintings, the book was interesting. Unfortunately, most of the story was just him bouncing between Spain and France, escaping extreme poverty. If you'd like to read my full review, you can here. But it's snarky and full of swearing, so reader beware. https://linzthebookworm.blogspot.com/...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Finch

    I’ll admit it, this book was a slog of a read that I had to keep putting down from time to time, in order to distract myself with other things. It’s hard work, much like making great art. But the author encapsulates everything a ‘Blue Period’ means in every sense of the word, and doesn’t paint over the cracks and wrinkles of the detail. Depressing, grim, desperate, heavy, infinitely sad, but written with excellence, I was particularly taken by the last death throes of a friendship interspersed with I’ll admit it, this book was a slog of a read that I had to keep putting down from time to time, in order to distract myself with other things. It’s hard work, much like making great art. But the author encapsulates everything a ‘Blue Period’ means in every sense of the word, and doesn’t paint over the cracks and wrinkles of the detail. Depressing, grim, desperate, heavy, infinitely sad, but written with excellence, I was particularly taken by the last death throes of a friendship interspersed with the death throes of a bullfight. No agony is spared in this book, which truly seems to prove that the finest art is often made by the most awful of people.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Actual rating: 3.5 stars This book was at times immensely engaging, but often punctuated with tangential narrations or side stories. As an artist that has studied Picasso’s work, I really enjoyed reading about his life and the events that led him to be the artist he was. The author researched a number of different sources for the accurate descriptions of pigments, artworks, and locations, but clearly took liberties with much of the dialogue or character interactions. Overall, it’s an introspective Actual rating: 3.5 stars This book was at times immensely engaging, but often punctuated with tangential narrations or side stories. As an artist that has studied Picasso’s work, I really enjoyed reading about his life and the events that led him to be the artist he was. The author researched a number of different sources for the accurate descriptions of pigments, artworks, and locations, but clearly took liberties with much of the dialogue or character interactions. Overall, it’s an introspective into the life of an immensely talented, starving, struggling artist, who was fueled by a fixation on death and poverty - which led to the creation of his ever famous Blue Period.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    The Blue Period by Luke Jerod Kummer is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late July. Second-person narration of Picasso’s early life, which paints him as a sardonic, stoic, pompous, and somewhat sourpuss observer. He learns the essentials of art from his dad, Don Jose, before going into art school and meeting people influential in his life, namely Pajaresco and his beloved Carles. The book then goes into his travels throughout Spain and France, gathering skill and creative energy, one-upping The Blue Period by Luke Jerod Kummer is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late July. Second-person narration of Picasso’s early life, which paints him as a sardonic, stoic, pompous, and somewhat sourpuss observer. He learns the essentials of art from his dad, Don Jose, before going into art school and meeting people influential in his life, namely Pajaresco and his beloved Carles. The book then goes into his travels throughout Spain and France, gathering skill and creative energy, one-upping other artists in their exploits and commissions, canoodling with Odette & Germaine, painting the inmates of Saint-Lazare, and his playful and philosophical friendship with Max Weill.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Pj Forrest

    Picasso Interesting, Book - Boring I was bored from page 1. I kept reading only because the book was about Pablo Picasso. It was interesting to learn some things about his life. It was interesting to learn about his friend Carles, with whom I was unacquainted. It was interesting to learn the source of inspiration of some of Picasso’s work. The writing? Not so interesting. The book was well researched and the fictional imaginings were based on historically accurate facts and timelines. Too bad it Picasso Interesting, Book - Boring I was bored from page 1. I kept reading only because the book was about Pablo Picasso. It was interesting to learn some things about his life. It was interesting to learn about his friend Carles, with whom I was unacquainted. It was interesting to learn the source of inspiration of some of Picasso’s work. The writing? Not so interesting. The book was well researched and the fictional imaginings were based on historically accurate facts and timelines. Too bad it was so boringly presented.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Patti Graham

    I enjoyed this novel by Kummer. Felt like I was possibly reading Picasso's diary. Interesting and, at times, shocking to learn of the artists earlier times before his work was truly appreciated. Would have liked to see less about the sexual depravity of his time and more about the reception of individual pieces of his art at the time. This first published book, which I received as a Giveaway from GR, kept my attention throughout. Would love to have the author continue in a series and perhaps do T I enjoyed this novel by Kummer. Felt like I was possibly reading Picasso's diary. Interesting and, at times, shocking to learn of the artists earlier times before his work was truly appreciated. Would have liked to see less about the sexual depravity of his time and more about the reception of individual pieces of his art at the time. This first published book, which I received as a Giveaway from GR, kept my attention throughout. Would love to have the author continue in a series and perhaps do The Rose Period next.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stormy Bell

    2.5 stars, rounded to three. I really wanted to like this book. But none of the characters, including Picasso himself, ever felt three-dimensional. For that reason, reading the book was a slog, and I almost gave up several times. I never felt myself truly engaged, and I finished more from a sense of duty than enjoyment. On the positive side, the author can definitely write. I would consider giving another of his books a try, this one was just mostly a miss for me.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tim Oberholzer

    A novel about a name 3 stars = average. The story was engaging as the story and foundation of Picasso's blue period was established. However, the story seemed to run out of steam and character once Pablo was ensconced in the blues. Engaging personalities evaporated. To the author's credit, maybe that was the point. But the art and intensity didn't carry through. I had to make an effort to keep returning to the novel and finish it out.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maura Kennedy

    Helped me know Paris and early Picasso Easy reading for a complicated topic. Mr. Kummer made the very young Piccaso so real. Knowing his art and fame now makes an Emerson quote I recently read fit: "The years teach us what the days never knew." I saw the struggle the young artist had. Back then he didn't know. The author has a great imagination . Close to truth as Yates said. A very good read. I will now look at his art in my art book!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sheri

    I absolutely adored this book! I know very little about Pablo Picasso other than his more famous pieces, but this book had me looking up things as I went and was difficult to put down. Completely engrossing, sometimes uplifting, at times devastating, and always pulling you along for the ride. A must-read for any historical fiction or art fans.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Misty

    Informative but messy I enjoyed learning about what inspired Picasso’s Blue Period, but sometimes the book was just hard to follow. I would have to re-read parts because I got lost or confused about what was going on or who was speaking. Overall, pretty good book, especially if you like art.

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