Barbara Corrado Pope Interview
November 13, 2009
the author of Cezanne's Quarry
Barbara Corrado Pope visited the blog on November 13, 2009, to talk about her historical mystery Cézanne's Quarry, which revolves around her atmospheric mystery about nineteenth-century French artist Paul Cézanne. It was one of five mystery novels to make my Best of 2009 list.
Barbara, what led you to structure your novel about Cézanne as a murder mystery?
The book was always conceived as a mystery. The idea came from a friend who wrote in a letter that during her sabbatical she wanted to write a mystery about "Cézanne, Provence and geology." After she dropped the idea, I got hooked on it - especially since I had lived in Provence and knew a great deal about the period.
Solange Vernet is an especially charismatic character. She's fictional, but was she inspired by any actual historical women?
History was one source of inspiration - there were many women like Solange, literate, intelligent, intellectually curious. Some of the working class women became articulate socialists, even publishing their own newspaper. Middle and upper class women tended to lead salons, as Solange did. So she is an amalgam, emerging from poverty through her profession as a hatmaker, to aspire to a role usually fulfilled by upper class women.
The second source of inspiration for Solange was the old classic movie Laura in which the detective investigating her disappearance becomes haunted by her portrait; my investigating judge become haunted by what he knew of Solange. The more he knows of her "mystery," the more it haunts him.
Are the paintings described in the novel all real, or did you invent some of them?
Every single one is a real painting. I would love to bring out an illustrated edition, but that's unlikely. Anyone reading the book can go to the library and find them in one of the many large compilations of Cézanne's work - or, if they are computer savvy, get a look at them on the internet.
Review of Cézanne's Quarry by Barbara Corrado Pope
See listing for Cézanne's Quarry at Powell's Books
See listing for Cézanne's Quarry at Amazon.com
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