In 1890, when Dr. Gachet is asked by Theo Van Gogh to be his brother Vincent’s personal physician, he enthusiastically accepts the challenge because of his dual interests in mental illness and art. Vincent, whose artistic genius was tormented by an unconfirmed mental illness eventually ending with suicide, became Dr. Gachet’s friend. Wallace’s historical novel, based on primary documents about Van Gogh’s life, explores the connection between artistic genius and madness, shows the 19th century’s response to mental illness, and realistically portrays moral choices that have life-changing consequences. (Spiegel & Grau)
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