In Monet’s Shadow

Our sights and senses come alive in this evocative piece by Crooked Cat author, Angela Wren, as she relives times in France while contemplating the impressionists. Welcome, Angela!

AEWBlackWhiteLast month I provided a bit of a scribble for a fellow author’s blog, where I took a stroll through Monet’s house and garden. In Monet’s Footsteps.  I was in London shortly afterwards, at a gallery meandering through an exhibition dedicated to impressionists and paintings of gardens.

My feet may have been solidly on that wooden floor in London but my mind and my senses were soon back at Giverney.  As I gazed at Monet’s In the Garden , painted in 1875, I recalled walking the path that sweeps through the foreground of the picture.  I could almost smell the heady fragrance rising from the arc of pink and red flowers that seemed to protectively enclose the readers in the shade on the lawn.  And in my mind I remembered the cool sweet smell of the damp grass mingled with the musky scent from the trees.

HangingBasketsAs I moved from canvas to canvas there were many more surprises for me.  Not least the two large companion pieces by Édouard Vuillard, whose surname I borrowed and gave to one of the characters in my novel, Messandrierre.  When I looked at  Woman Reading on a Bench and Woman Seated in an Armchair I was taken from Giverney and further south to St Armand-Montrond.  A small town in the departement of Cher which was once part of the old dukedom of Berry and one of the oldest argricultural regions in France.  It was the sky that drew my attention.  The colours of the paintings are muted but the sky in each is heavy, grey and brooding.  There is a languidness to the poses and I was reminded of a sultry June afternoon, the temperature cloying, the air weighted and the distant growling of a long needed thunder storm.  A viewer, who was stood near me, told her companion that she thought the paintings dull.  I thought them evocative and I could almost feel the heat of that June day rising from each canvas.

Two rooms further on and I was transported back to Giverney, the lily pond and the refreshingly cool blue and green tones of the water.  The three canvases were being displayed together for the first time since they were sold, and, as I looked at  them, I couldn’t understand how anyone could have allowed them to be separated.  They were each the same size (approximately 200x450cm) and the waterlilies floated across all three in continuous and sinuous arcs of white, pink and yellow. 

I can’t find them on the Monet gallery website, so I can’t show them to you, unfortunately.  But I’ve got my exhibition catalogue, so when they are eventually returned to the three individual American museums that own them, I can still look at them, and be amazed at my fortune in being able to take advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity.

About Angela Wren:  Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an Actor and Director at a local theatre.  I’ve been writing, in a serious way, since 2010.  My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life. I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work.  My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical.  I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio.  The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.


Messandrierre – the first in a new crime series featuring investigator, Jacques Forêt.

CoverArtSacrificing his job in investigation following an incident in Paris, Jacques Forêt has only a matter of weeks to solve a series of mysterious disappearances as a Gendarme in the rural French village of Messandrierre.


But, as the number of missing persons rises, his difficult and hectoring boss puts obstacles in his way. Steely and determined, Jacques won’t give up and, when a new Investigating Magistrate is appointed, he becomes the go-to local policeman for all the work on the case.


Will he find the perpetrators before his lover, Beth, becomes a victim?


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