The Sound of His Voice

RB Voice cover blog, FB etcIn 2015, a previously unknown painting by French artist Pierre Bonnard went off at auction in London for a staggering $30 million.

Aside from its sale price, what rocked the art world was the subject matter — an erotic bedroom scene of Bonnard’s young lover and model Renée Monchaty, whose tragic story had cast a long shadow over Bonnard’s legacy. In the early 1920s, she and Bonnard were deeply in love and planned to marry. But when his longtime companion and troubled muse Marthe de Méligny threatened suicide if he left her for Renée, Bonnard capitulated and married Marthe instead. A few weeks later, it was Renée who killed herself, leaving behind a broken man haunted by her memory.

Although Marthe had demanded that Bonnard destroy his paintings of Renée, he secretly hid them from her. When this sensual depiction of Renée surfaced in a private collection in the French village of Giverny, it was hailed as an extraordinary find. Until the painting’s Chinese buyer claimed it was a fake, setting in motion a much-publicized investigation involving Scotland Yard, French police and American art-forgery expert Liz Jennings. 

The Sound of His Voice is a novel inspired by the real-life drama of Pierre Bonnard’s doomed romance with Renée Monchaty. In a story told by the book’s four main characters who are in the throes of their own misguided love affairs, author Rebecca Bricker weaves an intricate, intimate tale that explores the art of deception, in its many forms, and its life-changing consequences.

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For more about the inspiration for this book, see “In Search of Pierre Bonnard.”