by Deborah Heiligman
Godwin Books: Henry Holt. 2017
Grades 6 and up
To write this review I borrowed the book from my local public library.
Note: Louise is selecting and composing all the reviews while Cathy is on Sabbatical. She will return February, 2018.
“The world would not have Vincent without Theo.”
Deborah Heiligman has penned another masterpiece (Charles & Emma). In this absorbing biography she examines their relationship and how their strong bond as brothers and friends would last until death they did part; first Vincent and then Theo.
The book reads like a gallery talk that follows Vincent’s emergence as an artist within the framework of his relationship to his family and Theo. Seamlessly incorporated into the narrative are quotes from some of the 658 letters Vincent wrote to Theo that Heiligman used in her meticulous research.
Vincent’s pencil sketches grace each chapter, which Heiligman names Galleries. [(Gallery One: Beginnings (1852-1872)]. Fourteen in all, each Gallery traces Vincent’s growth artistically, while revealing the brothers tight bond. “They promise always to be close, to keep the bond between them strong and intimate…They will be companions in the search for meaning in life and meaning in art.” Five pages of color reproductions of Van Gogh's pairings are grouped in the middle, including a painting of Theo, believed to be the only painting Vincent did of his younger brother.
Back matter includes a timeline, author’s note, bibliography of books & articles read for research, websites, endnotes, and index.
Highly recommended for biography collections. A must-read for anyone interested in the lives of these two deeply complex siblings.