Book Title: L’Origine: The secret life of the world’s most erotic masterpiece
by Lilianne Milgrom
Category: Adult Fiction (18+), 255 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Girl Friday Books – a new imprint from Girl Friday Productions
Release Date: 2020 first edition. October 2021 re-released by Girl Friday Books
Content Rating: R. My book does not have bad language and only one descriptive sex scene, but the protagonist is a painting whose explicit depiction of a woman’s lower torso and genitals has made it a controversial work of art for over a century and a half.
The riveting odyssey of one of the world’s most scandalous works of art.
In 1866, maverick French artist Gustave Courbet painted one of the most iconic images in the history of art: a sexually explicit portrait of a woman’s exposed genitals. Audaciously titled L’Origine du monde (The Origin of the World), the scandalous painting was kept hidden for a century and a half. Today, it hangs in the world-renowned Orsay Museum in Paris, viewed by millions of visitors a year.
As the first artist authorized by the Orsay Museum to re-create Courbet’s The Origin of the World, author Lilianne Milgrom was thrust into the painting’s intimate orbit, spending six weeks replicating every fold, crevice, and pubic hair. The experience inspired her to share her story and the painting’s titillating, clandestine history. L’Origine is a tale of survival, replete with French revolutionaries, Turkish pashas and nefarious Nazi captains. Hold onto your berets for a riveting ride through history.
Tell us a little about how this story first came to be.
It all began about ten years ago when I was in Paris on an artist’s residency. I had six glorious weeks to pursue my creative passions but I didn’t have any specific artistic roadmap in mind. To get the creative juices flowing I visited the magnificent Orsay Museum and encountered a painting that turned my world upside down: Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du monde (The Origin of the World), painted in 1866. Once you see this infamous painting you are not likely to forget it. In fact, I kept coming back to it because it resonated with me as both an artist and as a woman. I gained permission to become the first authorized copyist of the painting and then spent close to a decade researching and writing my award-winning novel ‘L’Origine: The Secret life of the World’s Most Erotic Masterpiece.’ It was pure serendipity!
If it’s not a spoiler, what does the title mean?
The title of my book, ‘L’Origine’ means ‘The Origin’ and refers to the protagonist of my novel – Gustave Courbet’s painting The Origin of the World. The novel traces the painting’s extraordinary adventures across centuries and continents. I debated about whether to have the French word in the title and decided that since the artist was French and the book takes place mainly in Paris, it would set the stage for a French-themed historical fiction.
What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?
That writing a book is hard work!! It requires dedication, motivation and persistence–often in the face of obstacles and setbacks. I was obsessed with telling the story of a painting that is not well known outside of France and it has been so rewarding to hear from readers who credit my book for giving them a greater appreciation of art’s role in history. A book can reach a multitude.
What surprised you the most in writing it?
I honestly did not think I could stick to any project for ten years, but the story just needed to be told. Up until that point, aside from my career as a studio artist, I had been writing freelance articles for arts publications. I found my own unique voice as a novelist.
Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?
The novel spans a century and a half from 1866 through to 2010. All of the characters in L’Origine are based on real life persons who are no longer alive. However, I would love to hear what they think of the way I portrayed them…!
Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?
That’s an interesting question. Gustave Courbet, the French artist who painted The Origin of the World is actually one of my heroes because I admire his unwavering principles, his unshakable drive and his belief in himself. I guess those are the lessons I learned from him and I hope readers will feel the same way.
What is your favorite part of the book?
The book is a hybrid memoir/historical fiction. I like both aspects. The prologue narrates my personal and intimate adventures with the painting, and the historical fiction narrative takes us on an exciting rollercoaster ride through history.
What are your immediate future plans?
I am writing my second novel entitled The Boudoir Princess–another historical fiction. The reader will have to determine if the main character was a scheming murderess or a victim of circumstance…
Meet the Author:
connect the author: website ~ twitter ~ instagram
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2 Replies to “Spotlight & Author Interviews: L’Origine + Giveaway”
I watched the Youtube interview and thought you both did a great job and it (along with the interview above) really made me interested in the painting/artist/history/book. Thank you.
What an incredible bit of history.