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Friday, March 23, 2012

Gastien Part 2: From Dream to Destiny - Caddy Rowland

Author: Caddy Rowland

Format: Ebook provided by author for review

From Goodreads
“I am Gastien Beauchamp, artist and lover. Any Frenchman would tell you that a peasant could never own property in nineteenth century France. Yet here I am, in my very own studio. The personal cost was horrendous. I barely survived the choices I made, and my sanity was pushed to its limits. 

Still, I finally now have security, peace, and freedom. For the rest of my life I can spend time “making love to the color”, making love to beautiful women, and enjoying the wild nightlife of bohemian Montmartre. What more could a man need or want? 

Then, one night, I see her. One look at Sophie, and my heart wants to betray me! I try to tell myself that I know better. Who needs love, anyway? I am already married-to my art! 

No woman would ever understand and accept my lifestyle; nor am I about to give that lifestyle up. Not when I paid so dearly for it! Besides, I am too badly damaged to ever open up my heart…and if Sophie found out about my past she would not want to even know my name. I can’t take that chance. I have had enough pain to last me a lifetime.” 


This is book two in the Gastien Beauchamp series, taking place from 1855 – 1899.  This book starts with a lot of review of the previous book.  Of course, I recommend you read Part 1, The Cost of The Dream.  But if you don’t, you will get the basics of it throughout this book.   I must say, I enjoyed this book much more than the first.  While both books are dark and portray a very honest look at Gastien’s life, this one had a bit more lighthearted moments that made it better for me.

Ok, so trying to focus on this book, and not so much the both books together.  Gastien is now an adult, living in his studio in Montemartre.   He is pretty much the same as he was previously.  My views of him as a person are not terrific.  I think he is selfish and immature, and a bit of a whiner when he doesn’t get his way.  He fills his life with superficial women, and this always leaves him looking for something more – as he is constantly reaffirming he does not want to be in love.   Sex, painting, drugs, and drinking…these are all things that Gastien is a happy and willing slave to.  Frankly, it began to be a bit tiresome to constantly have to deal with his insecurities and troubles that his addictions caused him.  Just as it is in the real world when you have to deal with a self centered addict.

See, this might seem like I am bashing the book.  Oh no, I’m not at all.  I found this an enjoyable read for the most part.  On the down side, there was a lot of repetition that I could have done without.  The thing is, this story is not sugarcoated.  Gastien grew up relatively poor, left home with nothing, went to the “big city” and he knows what scraping bottom feels like.  He was so low he had to scrape bottom just to look up.   He got a few breaks  here and there, made many sacrifices for his one true love (his art) and landed in a pretty good situation in Montemartre.  You get to see his whole life, and not just the good parts.

He finds love, real true love, in a young girl named Sophie.  This relationship is not without its troubles, but they have open and honest communication, and they make it work.  I can’t imagine how, but they do.  When they first meet, he is flustered and makes slips like asking for a kisskey instead of a whiskey one night at the pub when she is a waitress.  These little details really add to the story of their romance.  It doesn’t happen with a flash bang like in shorter novels, this romance is nurtured and grown until it becomes the rare flower that it is.

There is quite the cast of characters in this book, and you really get a chance to know them.  One of my favorites is Gastien’s best friend, Mic.  Mic is… well, after being Gastien’s friend for decades he should qualify for sainthood.  In fact, there is a scene where Mic is reminiscing and you get a quick view of Gastien from his eyes, from the first moment he saw him on the street.  This was so touching and beautiful, it really shows that family is indeed not just the people who you share blood with, but rather those who you share life with.

There were a few surprises in this book that I didn’t see coming, and I’ll leave those unspoiled.  Lets just say that in this book you should be prepared for the parade of emotions you are going to feel with Gastien and his choices.  There is definite happiness, a touch of romance, a splash and a rub of lust, and there is sorrow.  Like I’ve said before, I am not necessarily sure this is a “feel good”  book.  If you are looking for the next power couple in the fiction world on a whirlwind romance of lust and love, you should look elsewhere.  This is a gritty and raw look at the life of a young man who has convictions and sticks to them no matter the cost.  It’s a good story, and if you like historical fiction, I think  you will enjoy it. 

Ok, so I'm thinking about this review and this book, and there is more that I want to say. Gastien is a very complex man... He got me so upset with his choices and his decisions, if he were in front of me I may have flown off the handle.  BUT!  Yes, there is a but - when good things happened for him, I found myself smiling and happy too.  When disaster struck, and it did several times, my heart broke for him.  He is a flawed man, but there is a raw honesty there that was appealing, even as he was doing the worst things that he could, and stomping on the hearts of those who loved him.  He came from being abused and under-loved, and he gained this circle of family around him that loved him unconditionally.  I don't know, I guess its a love-hate relationship I have with Gastien. 

Read the book and decide for yourself.  Come back here and talk to me about it, or email me :)