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SMOKING MIRROR by Douglas Rees


An Encounter with Paul Gauguin

by Douglas Rees

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-8230-4863-2

French post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin’s arrival in the lush, colorful world of Tahiti in 1891 is the focus of this second entry in the Art Encounters historical-fiction series. Fifteen-year-old Mexican-American, Joe Sloan and his French sailor friend Robert arrive in Papeete to find Tehane, Robert’s Tahitian fiancée. When Robert is murdered, a stunned Joe feels haunted by Smoking Mirror, the Aztec god of loss and change. Consumed with revenge, Joe encounters the eccentric Gauguin with his naïve visions of “an exotic paradise full of unspoiled primitive people.” After a shaky start, Joe gradually assimilates and forgets about revenge as he falls in love with Tehane and supports the penniless, temperamental Gauguin in his search for “savage” beauty. Ultimately Joe helps Gauguin “paint the world new, as it was at the creation,” and Gauguin helps Joe confront Smoking Mirror. An intimate peek at Gauguin’s creative process and the story behind the cover painting Matamoe with just enough action and native color to entice. (notes, biographical timeline, and suggested reading) (Historical fiction. 12+)