Eva Figes was an English author. Figes wrote novels, literary criticism, studies of feminism, and Figes’ novel, Light, is an impressionistic portrait of a single day in the life of Claude Monet from sunrise to sunset. Her best known work is. A day in the life–and the light–of the aging (but still far from aged) Claude Monet. Figes (Waking) builds this impressionistic, rather studied. Complete summary of Eva Figes’ Light. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of Light.

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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Light by Eva Figes. Light by Eva Figes. Mass Market Paperbackpages. To see what your litht thought of this book, please sign up.

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Light, by Eva Figes

What is the problem in this book? Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Moments of Light and dark Sorrow and joy Fives and dusk Old and young Death and eternity I was struck by the number of contrasts in this story about a day in the life of Monet at Giverny.

There is Monet’s eager response to the dawn as opposed to that of Alice. Each one in this short novel responds in different ways to the events of the day, hence my mention of sorrow and joy, light and dark, etc. Light is present throughout the novel, and as it moves across different surfaces or changes, so the moods of the family members change. View all 9 comments. May 28, Stephen P rated it really liked it Shelves: A book of impressionistic psalms to the presence and fading of time through the eyes of an aging Monet.

I assumed this would be the totality of the book when I purchased it. Figes had this idea fige others. I gripped my chair through the rapid changing of point of view, the scenery, Monet, the complexity of each moment and each person in his family during one sunny day. Short at 91 pages Figes slips into the rapid weave of her story with a deftness to be admired even as I read, reading slowly to A book of impressionistic psalms to the presence and fading of time through the eyes of an aging Monet.

Short at 91 pages Figes slips into the rapid weave of her story with a deftness fies be admired even as I read, reading fiiges to be there in each moment. Monet lght much of his day trying to fges the moment of light’s beauty, attempting to see “Through it,” and what eav there.

If not painting he observed, pondered. So much happening beneath the surface with each passing moment. Her style is exquisite, staid. Experiencing slowly the imagery is to be taken into another world. Within these pages are instructions about seeing, awareness, the value of seeking perfection when it does not exist but how the luminosity of each of life’s details does. They are and will be there for me to see now that I have seen the world through fibes fictional Monet’s eyes, through the author’s eye, Figes.

She wrote an early work on the Women’s Movement. Though never mentioned, since this is a fully rendered account of one day in Monet’s and his family’s life, it is quite clear that the women’s lives are totally determined by the men. Monet is not pight the master of painting but master of his house and his decisions are final. He is though hampered by time refusing to stand still ligjt him with the advent of the car and fiyes changing too rapidly and for no good reason.

Already two wives are gone, a daughter has died, his wife dressed constantly in black spending much time at her daughter’s grave otherwise withdrawn, leaves him wanting the past, not the rushing elusive present-like the train passing near the property a number of times a day its smoke hovering after it has gone.


He sees his lost one’s in others, is confused and helpless about his wife.

Yet he wakes in the morning, this morning, elated that there is the chance, opportunity, he will see through the dazzle of light and within his net of colors and textures ligyt paints, capture time’s moment which will make all else okay. View all 5 comments.

Jun 26, Kathleen rated it really liked it Shelves: A day in the life of Monet, but so much more.

Through all of the description, a story evolves. It has been a year since her daughter died, leaving two small children for Alice and her older children to tend to whil A day in the life of Monet, but so much more.

We become the gardener dangling his hand from the boat into the water, Alice closing her eyes in struggling sleeplessness, and their granddaughter Lily musing about how far away a year is, and the smell of grandparents. It was buried in her face, too, in the slack mouth and soft white cheeks, and the pale eyes that said nothing.

Reading them was like stepping back in time and noticing things the way I did as a child. Maybe light does go on forever. View all 4 comments. Jul 18, Roger Brunyate rated it it was amazing Shelves: Eva Figes’ novella is a tribute to two people. Most obviously to Claude Monet, taking as its entire subject a day in the life of the painter and his family at their home in Giverny.

But also to Virginia Woolf: Fluid, lambent, Eva Figes’ language is much like Monet’s light; it is the medium that dissolves everything into a shimmering stream that runs through the book from beginning to end. A passage like this, for example, might almost be one of Virginia Woolf’s interludes in The Waves: And beyond the overgrown surface of the lily pond sunlight shimmered in the row of poplars, filtered through the green tent of the willow tree, shone on the open hillside, the sloping roofs and sheets hung out to dry in sunlit courtyeards.

It bounced from the glass panes of the greenhouse, settled into the dust where hens pecked and strutted, drank the dark stains from the drips of wet washing and water tossed out of doors. It crept up on cool zinc milk churns, standing in shadow, and lost itself in the dark thickets of yew trees standing guard over house and garden. Indoors it fell across waxed floorboards, faded bedspreads and cushions, showing up dust in rooms where the maid had not yet been.

It dried out Lily’s cobweb, and turned some of the climbing roses limp on the trellis. It hummed in the wings of insects, shone on the long line of the railway track, blistered the paint of window shutters, and formed a haze, a mirage above the long gass of the pasture so that the line of trees down by the river had become dim, seemed about to dissolve in bright light, a green incandescence against the faded sky.

The novella is short enough for one to read it simply as an extended prose-poem, enjoying the words for themselves, seeing the pictures that they conjure up in terms of the fgies and color of the Impressionist master. Figes can write this way because, important though Virginia Woolf may be, it is Claude Monet who is her ultimate truth. But although the book invites you to read it on this sensuous level, it is not the only one.

There are numerous characters other than Claude Monet himself; Figes does not supply any liyht, and only gradually do you figure out who they are and how they relate; this is a book written for those who already know Monet and something of his family. Speaking for myself, when a writer deals with real people and real facts, I want to know those facts, so before long I was reading with iPad Wikipedia by my side.


As a trained art historian, also, I wanted more than lighg the general flges of Monet’s paintings, but was sva for something that might illuminate his process and offer insight into his thinking.

Light by Eva Figes

Merely-sensuous readers may oight without them, but these levels helped me, so I want ifges address them here. First, some background, without which the characters are pretty difficult to figure out. Monet had two children with his first wife, Camille: But Ernest declared bankruptcy and had to work away from home, leaving Monet for weeks ffiges a time with Alice.

He married her ina year after Ernest’s death. The group that Figes depicts at Giverny in thus includes members of both families. The two standing figures are Efa Monet left and his son Michel. The other women are all her daughters. Blanche seated behind the table married Monet’s elder son Jean, who is next to her.

By the time the book opens, Marthe in front, wearing white will have become the family’s de facto housekeeper; Gabrielle behind will just have received a proposal of marriage; and Suzanne, the stunner in the patterned dress, has been dead for a year. At first I could not understand why the publishers chose an painting of Suzanne, Woman with a Parasol, for the cover of a novel set in But I reproduce it myself at the head of this review, for although Suzanne never appears, her presence and spirit fills the entire book.

Claude Monet remembers her with joy.

Light, by Eva Figes | B. Morrison

Her mother Alice still mourns for her, falling into a deep depression. Jimmy and Lily, her two young children with her American husband, the painter Theodore Earl Butler, now live with their grandparents and are looked after by their aunt Marthe. And Figes uses Lily’s viewpoint especially as a fresh counterpoint to those of the older characters, bringing her own kind of light whenever she appears: Lily picked up a single petal, stroked its soft pink skin now brown at the edge, and tried blowing it into the air.

It dropped on her pinafore, so she picked up a handful and tossed the whole lot into the air. She watched them fall slowly, flutter, catching the slanting light. Everything smelled fresh and damp now, as though the sun, where it came through the trees, was still cool and distant. She found beads of water caught in a curl of leaf, hanging from the tips of fern, cupped in a flower.

But it was in a damp corner behind a heap of drying dead flowers and cut grass that she found the most astonishing sight of all, a cobweb strung between two posts, she hardly dared breathe for fear of disturbing it, a thousand drops of water gleaming in the tension of its fragile hold.

Besides the gardener, cook, and housemaid, there are two non-family figures who may require explanation. The other is Octave Mirbeau, journalist, art critic, salon cynic, neighbor—and fellow gardener. Monet delights in taking him on a tour of the gardens, showing him the orchids in his hothouse and the latest improvements to his beloved lily pond.


The gardens at Giverny today. He studied the surface of the water, following the lily pads arranged like islands, an archipelago, seduced by the apparently random pattern until it was caught in the encircling clasp of the bridge, held there, like the belt round the curve of a woman’s middle, or my hands, touching. Ah, I have you, he thought, smiling, all of you trapped, earth, water and sky. You thought you could escape, now that I am getting old, that you could run away, now I am slowing down, too old to track you down across wild landscapes.

You did not think I could seduce you by luring you into my own back yard.