Monday, April 14, 2014

Straight Reading from the Library: Crimson Clouds by Claude Nougat

The Library received Crimson Clouds to review as part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Claude will be awarding a print copy of Crimson Clouds to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. (US ONLY) You can see the other stops on the tour here:


Robert is at a crossroads. Just retired from a brilliant career as a UN manager in humanitarian aid, he could work as a high-level consultant or pursue his childhood dream of becoming an artist. He chooses the latter to the dismay of his wife Kay. Twenty years his junior, Kay is a lover of Contemporary Art, deeply involved in her work as the owner of a trendy art gallery in New York. She is horrified by his academic paintings. They fight over Art - he's square, she's cool - but more separates them than diverging views on Art. A secret Kay has never revealed weighs on their marriage and threatens to break it apart...

This contemporary romance resonates with the complexities and wistfulness of mature passion the second time around.


This book is not your everyday romance book--instead it's a story of second chances, of mature love and failings, and carries with it the theme--and fear-- of "too late." It reads more like "women's fiction" than romance.

Is it "too late" for Robert to follow his childhood dream of painting?  Is it "too late" for Robert and Kay to have a life together?  Is it "too late" for them to find some common ground in a marriage that for twenty years have been living all but separate lives?  Is the love they still share not only "too late" but enough to salvage this relationship?

Ms. Nougat does a wonderful job at reeling the reader in and making her care what happens to these two characters, even while said reader wants to just shake them both at times and tell them to "stop it right now."  They each want to regain what they had in the early days of marriage but each are equally sure that their needs are the most important ones. 

The author takes these two through an unconventional (especially in the terms of romance writing) journey as they seek to regain what they have lost.  It's told through alternating points of view so we get some of the story from each of them, which is interesting to see. 

I am definitely interested in reading more of this author's work---I like the way she writes.

4 stars.


Claude Nougat is a writer, economist, painter and poet. A graduate of Columbia University, Claude has dabbled in a wide variety of jobs before starting a 25 year career at the United Nations (Food and Agriculture), ending as Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia.

Claude is the author of many books, including two in Italian that won several awards in Italy, and seven in English, all fiction except one essay on development aid; she is considered a prime exponent of Boomer literature.

Her poetry has been included in "Freeze Frame", an international poetry anthology curated by British poet Oscar Sparrow, published by Gallo Romano Media in 2012.

Claude is married and lives in Italy.

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  1. Thank you so much for having me on board and giving me such a thoughtful review. For a writer, there's nothing more wonderful than to find that a reader has fully understood the intention behind the book: yes, the theme really is "too late", that's exactly what makes (or can make) life tragic.

    And I'm sure it can be irritating too for the reader who hopes and sees that things never need to be "too late". But it happens so often in life, doesn't it, that feeling of "too late", that you're going to miss the boat...And that's what I wanted to catch although I don't mean "Crimson Clouds" to be a tragic story in any way. I'm a born optimist and I'm convinced that nothing is ever "too late" and I hope it shows in the book!

    Indeed, I would add that the cover (a sunset on Lake Trasimeno - one of my own photos) shows how absolutely breath-takingly beautiful the end of the day can be. And that is the case for Kay and Robert...When you close the book, my hope is that you walk off with the feeling that the end of Robert and Kay's life will be as beautiful as that sunset!

  2. Just an additional comment: I think that Judith's characterization of this book as "women's fiction" is perfectly right, spot on...After all, I am a woman and I also wrote this book from a woman's point of view. It does have a "character arc" as Kay learns how to understand her husband and win his love back...Of course, much of what is recounted in that book is based on my own experience. I did work for the UN and when I retired I painted and learned a lot about the art world first hand, a tough world! But my own marriage didn't unravel (thank God!) but that is what writing books is all about: imagining a different reality...