On the Road to Tarascon
Magdeburg, Germany, 2011 A lover’s note among a senile woman’s possessions sets off a chain of events that could lead to the discovery of a Van Gogh masterpiece—one of the most important paintings to have been lost in World War II. Kolkata, India, 2012 When travel writer Neil Bose falls for Eva Schicktanz, he does not know he is getting involved with much more than a dimpled girl in nerd glasses. Neil and Eva must stay ahead of unknown pursuers after a common goal and follow an unusual trail charted in 1945. But after so many years, does the trail even exist? A quest spanning continents and seven decades, this edge-of-the-seat thriller keeps you hooked till the last page.

On the Road to Tarascon Details

TitleOn the Road to Tarascon
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 1st, 2018
PublisherNiyogi Books
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction

On the Road to Tarascon Review

  • thebookishbulletin
    January 1, 1970
    Review as on The Bookish Bulletin blog:Disclaimer: Spoilers may be contained in the below review. Please read at your own discretion.Shifting timelines and diverse characters make this book stand out from its counterparts in the Indian literary scene. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of modern-day urban Kolkata and Berlin. Eva is on a mission to locate a lost Van Gogh painting, one that was supposedly destroyed in a fire during the second world war. Her mission begins with a letter from her Review as on The Bookish Bulletin blog:Disclaimer: Spoilers may be contained in the below review. Please read at your own discretion.Shifting timelines and diverse characters make this book stand out from its counterparts in the Indian literary scene. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of modern-day urban Kolkata and Berlin. Eva is on a mission to locate a lost Van Gogh painting, one that was supposedly destroyed in a fire during the second world war. Her mission begins with a letter from her old grandmother. This unleashes a trail of clues that take Eva from Berlin to Kolkata where she meets the narrator of the story, Neil Bose. The search for the Van Gogh is really a bit of a wild goose chase and it opens up a fictional possibility of what happens to such missing objects.What worked for me?The fact that this story is inspired by an actual painting by a famous Dutch artist. I love books that cleverly weave together factual information and a fictional narrative. The subject matter is also non-mainstream. I appreciate the author’s daring choice to venture into such topics that are more or less unconventional for Indian writing as European art and its history.Shifting timelines and a good background to the story.The locales in which the story is set created an appealing fictional world.Diverse characters made this story unique and unlike any other book authored by an Indian writer that I have read. In that sense, it was a refreshing read, something different.What did not work for me?-The lack of detail. This book is dealing with some serious subject matter. We are talking about a lost Van Gogh painting. Some of the artist’s works amount to billions of dollars today (check this video for more information about Van Gogh). Despite being a thriller, this book did not do justice to and failed to convey the gravity of the situation for me.-The lack of in-depth research. I would really have liked a few more footnotes. This novel could have dealt more with finer details which would have made it an absorbing read. But due to paragraphs like the one below, I found myself dozing off in a couple of places along the way:“Sankar called somewhere to find out a phone number and when he did, he called up the person and spoke to him in Bengali for a short while. once he disconnected the call, he looked at Ronald and Nathan and said, “Let’s go.”-Certain parts of the plot failed to convince me. For instance, the idea of a verbal phrase or password to be spoken to a particular individual. Some of the notions felt like they weren’t fully thought through. While the premise of this book is unconventional, the plot lacked proper justification. Other aspects were simply absurd and unnatural. How can someone successfully hideaway for years a painting of such value? I had to make a real effort to suspend my sense of disbelief as I read through most of this book.-The love story in the book was unnecessary and did not do anything for the plot.I would not recommend that you read this book unless you are a fan of the genre of historical fiction and thrillers. If you are an open-minded reader who is keen to explore some new subject matter, you can pick up this book.Verdict: 3 stars
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  • OvyReadz
    January 1, 1970
    This book revolves around the Van Gogh painting, ‘On the road to Tarascon’ that was destroyed in a fire during WWII.The setting of the plot and concept of the missing painting generations back and tracing its existence at present was absolutely ingenious.The narration was lucid and very much captivating. The book is a clear outcome of the author’s sheer brilliance and in depth research of the painting and its background. Its amazing that the author has created a fictional world around such a fam This book revolves around the Van Gogh painting, ‘On the road to Tarascon’ that was destroyed in a fire during WWII.The setting of the plot and concept of the missing painting generations back and tracing its existence at present was absolutely ingenious.The narration was lucid and very much captivating. The book is a clear outcome of the author’s sheer brilliance and in depth research of the painting and its background. Its amazing that the author has created a fictional world around such a famous painting and delivered it with a strong plot.This book has an amazing potential and could have been much more effective, had the plot been developed with more focus on the mystery behind the lost painting instead of distracting to Neil and Eva’s relationship.On the whole, it was an interesting and intriguing read for me. Infact it was pretty informative, when I read the WWII scenes. I love such books which leave traces on me even after I have completed them. This is definitely going to be an unique read of the year for me.
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  • Sakshi Kathuria
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come up soon !!
  • Neha Garg (thereadingowl_)
    January 1, 1970
    As published on The Reading Owl I enjoy reading historical fiction. I love the details, the mystery, and the fact that they make me read up on new subjects. Art is what I discovered through this book. ‘The Painter On The Road To Tarascon’ is one of the few self-portraits by famous Dutch painter, Vincent Van Gogh. It is believed that it was destroyed during World War II when the allied forces bombed Magdeburg in Germany, but the ‘Monuments Men Foundation’ still has it on its “Most Wanted: Works As published on The Reading Owl I enjoy reading historical fiction. I love the details, the mystery, and the fact that they make me read up on new subjects. Art is what I discovered through this book. ‘The Painter On The Road To Tarascon’ is one of the few self-portraits by famous Dutch painter, Vincent Van Gogh. It is believed that it was destroyed during World War II when the allied forces bombed Magdeburg in Germany, but the ‘Monuments Men Foundation’ still has it on its “Most Wanted: Works of Art” list. Is the painting really still around?Intriguing Subject Matter:The book is a fiction spun around this mystery. 65 years after it the painting was lost, a trail surfaces through an old letter which can lead the bearer to it. This intrigued me to no end and I dived into the story with high expectations. The theme is the best part. It is fresh, ingenious, and intriguing. You don’t see books on this subject matter or genre every day.The History Part:The books shifts between 1945 and 2011, the time when the painting was lost and now when multiple people are trying to find it. I loved the history part. The whole scheme that Jonas Bormann, curator of the Kulturhistorisches Museum (formerly known as Kaiser-Friedrich Museum) and Edward Bated, a British agent concoct to save the painting is brilliant. I really liked Al and his live-in-the-moment attitude.The Present:However, I could not connect at all to the part that deals with 2011. The first few chapters are the most confusing. There are nameless and placeless characters. I think the idea was to create a mystery around the protagonist but all it did for me was to jumble up the array of people in my mind. Even towards the end, a lot of new characters are introduced. It lengthens the story unnecessarily.More Details Please?A mystery of this potential needs more details and build up to make it more thrilling. The author focuses more on the inconsequential relationship that Neil and Eva share, rather than plugging the holes that the plot is riddled with. There are huge assumptions and unknown story transitions which leave the reader nonplussed. For example, another pursuer of the painting is introduced bam in the middle of the plot and with some unexplained powers, knows that he needs to steal the most crucial clues in the painting’s trail.Recommendations:My mind is full of questions and a desire to know more after reading this book. I feel it could have been an amazing read with some cuts and additions. However, what did not work for me can always work for someone else. Readers interested in historical fiction can pick this up for a quick and light reading.Thank you Niyogi Books for sending me a review copy. All views are my own.
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  • Ankita Arora
    January 1, 1970
    My rating: 3.5/5On the Road to Tarascon is a story revolving around multiple characters, which is one of the good things about this book, keeps you hooked!A painting of the same name made by Van Gogh was lost/ destroyed in the second world war. With this premise, the story begins. It starts in 1943 with the curator (Jonas Bormann) of a Museum in Madgeburg, Germany, which was home to the painting back in the day. The paintings were to be moved to a safe place in the wake of the war. Sooner or lat My rating: 3.5/5On the Road to Tarascon is a story revolving around multiple characters, which is one of the good things about this book, keeps you hooked!A painting of the same name made by Van Gogh was lost/ destroyed in the second world war. With this premise, the story begins. It starts in 1943 with the curator (Jonas Bormann) of a Museum in Madgeburg, Germany, which was home to the painting back in the day. The paintings were to be moved to a safe place in the wake of the war. Sooner or later, they would either be attacked by the British or looted by the Americans. Bormann was tensed but only for one of those 403 paintings.The story then comes to present to a young girl named, who is visiting her dying grandmother, Claudia, who happens to be the wife of the curator. She manages to share a few things with her granddaughter, including a letter by her lover, Edward Bates, a British spy who was stationed in Madgeburg to save a certain painting.Further, the story enfolds with Bormann and Bates coming together to saving that one painting, #395.The story introduces a few more characters and each of them has a role to play in finding that painting:- Al: a painter, who was hired by Bormann and Bates to replicate the original Van Gogh- Richard Pemberton: art lover, approached Churchill with a plan to save the Van Gogh and hired Bates to execute the same - Neil: a guy living in South Kolkata, in an open relationship, hosting 2 girls from Germany, Hannah, and Eva(the granddaughter)- Samir Kumar Ghosh: the doctor who treated Bates in Kolkata, post the event that killed Bormann and he supposedly saved the painting.- Sankar Ghosh: grandson of the doctor, who is to be approached for solving the mystery of the painting- Harold Pemberton: son of Richard Pemberton, wishing to fulfill his father's only desire (to see the Van Gogh hanging on his wall)- Mr. Patel: hired by Harold to follow Eva and her pursuit to find the painting- Ronal Gellar and his son Nathan Gellar: Ronald was the head of HIstory and Art department at Oxford University, who was told by Walter Bates (brother of Edward) where to find the Van Gogh and what exactly Edward did back in the day.- Narendranath Mukherji: grandson of Chandranath Mukherji, both lawyers habited in Kolkata. He is the final clue and the only person who knows the exact location of the painting!All these characters, four continents, and one painting. The story is weaved in a way that will keep you on the edge. Never will you feel distracted or confused between the characters and their role in the narrative. Very interesting, amazingly written and accurately executed. The only thing I found a bit out of order was Neil's over sexual thoughts dropped in the story more than once. The love story had no important role to play except the fact that he eventually helps Eva by bringing in the secret Police. He could've done that, and the love story could be there, but it was too prominent. There could be a bit more info about Van Gogh, but it would only lengthen the book. The story suited the plot which was to find the lost painting. Overall, a very intriguing, exciting and keeps-you-hooked kind of story. I recommend.
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