Lisette's List by Susan Vreeland

Susan Vreeland is a bestselling author of eight novels about art and artists. Perhaps her best known is Girl in Hyacinth Blue about Vermeer. Other artists who have been subjects of her fiction include Emily Carr, Renoir, and Tiffany. Her novels are characterized by a good story, lovely details of art works and the making of art, and strong women as central figures in a work of historical fiction. Lisette's List is another excellent work that fits the profile.

Lisette is a young bride who moves, with her husband Andre, from Paris to Roussillon, a village in Provence, where Andre grew up, raised by his grandparents, and is returning to care for his aging grandfather. Lisette and Andre have loved their life in Paris, working in the world of galleries and art. Lisette loves Andre and his grandfather, but finds it difficult to adjust to life in a small village. Two years later, in 1939, Andre and Maxime their best friend from Paris, volunteer and leave for the war.

Grandfather Pascal had also worked in the world of art, the ochre mines near Roussillon, as a pigment salesman, and as a frame maker; over the years he has traded frames for several fine paintings by Pissarro, Cezanne, and Picasso. Lisette's enjoyment of life in Roussillon develops as she admires Pascal's collection of paintings by artists who had been inspired by the beauty of the region. She becomes a part of the community of interesting citizens, all struggling to live in a country torn by war.

Because the Nazis are confiscating art works, Andre has hidden Pascal's paintings and, to protect Lisette, not told her their location. Lisette befriends Marc and Bella Chagall who are hiding in the area; before they leave for America, Chagall gives her a painting, which she also hides.

Lisette's list includes "11. Find the paintings in MY lifetime." and  "12. Learn to be self-sufficient."  As readers, we watch Lisette work toward her goals, mature, and develop deep friendships, while immersed in a region full of natural beauty and rich in art. Does Lisette complete her list?  The last, "17.  Love more.  Love again.  Love broadly.  Love without reservation."  Read to find out. 

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