Camille Claudel:
A Novel

by Alma H. Bond

Publish America, 2005. ISBN 1424116708.
Reviewed by Doris Anne Roop-Benner
Posted on 04/11/2006

Fiction: Historical

When I started this book, I quickly became depressed about this woman. Then I reached a point where I found myself fascinated by her thought process as a sculptor. She studied every person she saw and found in each face a library that is engraved on it the past, present, and future of its owner. And the body, too. She looked at it as an historical record that is inscribed with the lives of the models in the lines and wrinkles of their flesh. She talks about how there are a great many aspects to understanding a subject on the most profound levels in order to shape a fine piece of sculpture. She even sculpted an autobiography in art of the great moments of her life.

When she sculpted, she thought about that person all the time until their essence was revealed to her and she understood them with her heart. Camille felt that God, who she believed was the greatest sculptor of us all, did this in boundless silence when he took the essence of Adam from the dirt on the ground, as she did with her clay.

She traveled a tempestuous road to become an artist. She fought discrimination against women, narrow-mindedness, and poverty. But she followed her passion and wanted the record of her life to help future generations to understand the horrors in the life of a woman artist who was betrayed by her times. Camille imagined her struggles would make it easier for women artists in the future.

She was disapproved of quite a lot, but the one criticism that never failed to leave her in a rage was the comment, "The statue is pretty good, considering that it was done by a woman." In the midst of any good reviews, the fact that she was a woman was made to seem as if she was an inferior, abnormal kind of being. How different would her life have been had the world valued her work as much as they did that of her male counterparts?

Her other passion was Rodin. She was his mistress for many years and wanted more than anything to marry him, which she thought would make her respectable. But he had a wife and was quite satisfied. It was the greatest disappointment of Camille's life, and her obsession would ultimately cause her total collapse.

Camille died as she lived, thinking Rodin and his henchmen were stealing her sculptures and her ideas. Her life was one battle after another. In her forties, she lost the war and spent the last thirty years of her life in an asylum.

Dr. Alma Bond retired from a highly successful Manhattan practice as a psychoanalyst in 1991 to write full time in Key West, Florida. She is the author of twelve published books including The Autobiography of Maria Callas: A Novel, and Who Killed Virginia Woolf. She has had many professional articles published in prestigious psychoanalytic journals, magazines, and newspapers. She is the mother of three children, all of whom are writers, and seven grandchildren.

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