Cover Image: Cut Out

Cut Out

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Member Reviews

Cut Out by Michéle Roberts is a lyrically interwoven novel. The story follows Clemence and Berthe in 1950’s Nice and alternates to the present day where we meet Denis, Berthe’s son and Clemence’s godson. Denis is looking for answers about his parents and the shadows in his life so he turns to Clemence. The title evokes the paper cut outs made by Henri Matisse after he could no longer paint and Clemence who reflects upon her time spent working for the artist as a studio assistant. It is a slow paced story that doesn’t quite stir the imagination but is filled with beautiful descriptive passages that capture a snapshot of provincial France. A story of mystery and marvel for fans of historical and literary fiction. 3.5 stars ⭐️
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This novel alternates between present day Denis, travelling from London to visit his godmother Clem in France, and her youth many decades previously, working in close proximity to Henri Matisse. I felt the twist coming, the big reveal between Clem and Denis, but that didn’t make it any less satisfying. I’ve only read a few of Roberts’ books but I love her writing, her poetic and beautiful prose, and I’ll definitely be back for more of her backlist soon.
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This story has great potential, but its execution is poor. Overwritten with too much detail about what characters are wearing or the smells in a room. Not allowing the reader to use his/her imagination  makes the text feel very claustrophobic. Inadequate punctuation. Roberts skips between different POVs, sometimes within the same paragraph. Not having quotation marks makes it difficult to know which character is speaking, or if a phrase is just someone's thoughts. Extremely disappointing. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Sandstone Press for my ARC.
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A lyrical story revolving around the assistants that worked for Henri Matisse during his later years.  The story is told from the alternating points of view of Denis and his godmother, Clemence.  
The first person narratives are very free flowing, flitting between actual events and the characters memories.  The lack of speech marks and the constant shifting of the time frame produces a confusing text that is not an easy read.  
I didn't find the characters very appealing.  In addition, the plot was painfully slow moving, resulting in me completely losing interest in the story.  
A disappointing read.
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This is a novel of deep pleasures and I devoured this in one sitting.  A lyrical tale of family secrets and self-discovery.
Denis knows his mother kept things from him. 
His godmother, Clemence, knows the truth. 
In rich, sensuous prose, Roberts interweaves Denis's search for answers with Clemence's memories of the time she spent working for Matisse. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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