I really wanted to love this novel. It has all the things that ostensibly, I should love: Paris? Paintings that come alive? Some interesting uses of mythology? A feminist twist? An author that has been garnering more and more acclaim and attention? But sadly for me, Starry Nights never panned out or impressed me. Honestly, if Starry Nights wasn't such a short, simple, and easily digestible novel, I doubt whether I would have finished. All I can really say is that this is another case of "it's not you, it's me" because I can bet that there will be vast love for it. While I can understand that, I just can't take part in it.
It's not that Starry Nights is a bad book. It's not. It just never really clicked for me. I was utterly indifferent to the characters, the writing was serviceable but nothing to take not of, the romance didn't interest me, and the plot... well, the plot reminded me of a toned down, less suspenseful Darker Still and Night at the Museum. I didn't care about Julien, or Clio, or what kept their love apart. The one character that did generate some interest, Bonheur, isn't around nearly enough to make up for the vacuum of personality that is Julien, or the vapid nature of his love Clio.
When I wasn't bored or disinterested... I was chagrined at the sheer amount of cheese in the love story. It's just badly written, even for a seventeen year old and a girl caught in a painting for 130 years. I mean "She was a revolution and she staged a coup d'etat in my heart"? Really? Really? That line is so full of cheese, it should be a twelve-foot sub. And falling in love with a painting, even before he saw her come to life? My nineties self wants to say: Puh-lease.
As for the promised feminist twist, well, I heard more about it than I saw in the pages of the novel. Suzanne Valadon is important to the plot, and her struggles as a female painter in a male-dominated world are far more interesting than is shown here. And for a novel set in Paris, the city of love and art!, Whitney neglects her setting to focus on the saccharine romance, to the novel's detriment.
I don't have a lot to say about this book, because, for me, it didn't have a lot to offer. A shallow amusement for two hours, I can't say I walked away from Starry Nights feeling much of anything at all. It was more tedious than romantic, silly rather than compelling. I will still seek out other Daisy Whitney novels, but I won't expect so much from them.