Provence, May 1889. The hospital of Saint-Paul-de Mausole is home to the mentally ill. An old monastery, it sits at the foot of Les Alpilles mountains amongst wheat fields, herbs and olive groves. For years the fragile have come here and lived quietly, found rest behind the shutters and high, sun-baked walls.
Tales of the new arrival - his savagery, his paintings, his copper-red hair - are quick to find the warden's wife. From her small white cottage, Jeanne Trabuc watches him - how he sets his easel amongst the trees, the irises and the fields of wheat and paints in the heat of the day.
Jeanne knows the rules; she knows not to approach the patients at Saint-Paul. But this man - paint-smelling, dirty, troubled and intense - is, she thinks, worth talking to. So, ignoring her husband's wishes and the dangers, and despite the word mad, Jeanne climbs over the hospital wall. She will find that the painter will change all their lives.
Let Me Tell You About a Man I Knew is a beautiful novel about the repercussions of longing, of loneliness and of passion for life. But it's also about love - and how it alters over time.
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Beautiful writing, classy story.