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Blessed Twilight: The Story of Vincent Van Gogh
by Bob Kunzinger

By Robin Higham

The Starry Night Over The Rhone, 1888 by Vincent Van Gogh The Starry Night Over The Rhone, 1888 by Vincent Van Gogh
Blessed Twilight book cover

Blessed Twilight starts out in a conversational tone – as may be expected from a book which is the compilation of the artist’s correspondence. I was first surprised by how easy it was to engage with the material, how easy it was to connect with young Vincent as he excitedly went to London for the first time.

In the early chapters, I felt as though I was reading a novel written in the first person, and I connected strongly with the voice of the protagonist. I often laughed aloud at a turn of phrase or unique outlook he shared.

London was certainly the place to be. Except for the fact that I knew absolutely nobody, didn’t speak the language and had never been there before, I couldn’t wait. … But London would be my first adult exposure to loneliness. Falling in love with my landlady’s daughter seemed to help. Her being engaged didn’t.

And so, with a cheerful heart, I plunged ahead, joining the day to day journey of a man who wanted nothing more than to be a preacher, but was thwarted at every turn. Blessed Twilight’s Vincent is everything I want from a character – likable, motivated, deeply flawed.

But something happened as I read. The distance between reader and imaginary character was broken by the reality of Vincent – by his own brokenness, by the undeniable truth of him as a fellow human being, no mere character in a story, but a genuine hurting soul. As Vincent became more real to me, I began to feel as though I was reading letters from a close friend.

And my heart slowly broke as I watched that friend struggle and starve and suffer.

It is a credit to Blessed Twilight when I say that while the book was a quick read, there was ultimately nothing easy about it. I finished with the helpless sadness universally experienced when one loses a loved one to mental illness.

I highly recommend this book. It is a worthwhile journey, if you are up for the challenge.

About the author

Robin Higham is a novelist and environmental engineer who lives in Colorado.

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