At the cabarets and brothels of Montmartre, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is a well known visitor. Brilliant, rich and deformed, Toulouse-Lautrec carries on flirtations and relationships with many women - prostitutes as well as famous singers and dancers. In "A Club in Montmartre", writer Mike Resnick imagines the lonely artist meeting a starving waif, Dany, at the famous Moulin Rouge. Dany, like so many before her, falls under the spell of the dissolute can can dancer known as La Goulue. Toulouse-Lautrec wages a Faustian battle with La Goulue for the young girl's soul even as he is losing the battle for his own, slipping deeper and deeper into alcoholism and bitterness. This deeply felt story, Resnick's first in a genre other than science fiction, captures the intensiry of the genius caught between his limitations and his aspirations. Toulouse-Lautrec's lively posters and his art are popular with young adults. Part of the "Art Explorers" series, this is a compelling story of overcoming obstacles.
Having accepted its somewhat simplistic form. It's a book I thoroughly enjoyed. However, what I couldn't have bargained for was the conclusion to the story which left me feeling rather hopeful that despite the misgivings and perceptions we have about ourselves, others may well see us in a very different light.