L’Origine by Lilianne Milgrom: fascinating and multi-faceted

Lilianne Milgrom

on Tour

January 18-29




The Secret Life Of The World’s Most Erotic Masterpiece

(historical fiction)

Release date: July 28, 2020
at Little French Girl Press

255 pages

2020 Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion Award


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L’Origine‘ traces the extraordinary, clandestine odyssey of an iconic 19th century painting that shook up the author’s world and continues to scandalize all who set eyes upon it.
Gustave Courbet’s portrait of a woman’s exposed torso and sex – audaciously entitled ‘L’Origine du monde’ (The Origin of the World) – was so shocking it was kept hidden for a century and a half, surviving revolution, Nazi plunder and the foibles of its eccentric owners.
Today it draws millions of visitors to Paris’ Orsay Museum. Lilianne Milgrom brings a fresh, feminine perspective to an iconic work of art created specifically for the male gaze.
L’Origine‘ offers readers more than a riveting romp through history–it also reflects society’s complex attitude towards female nudity.

NB: this is a historical novel, no explicit scenes

My review

When I first saw a copy of this famous/infamous painting, my reaction was a lukewarm and rather dismissive ‘Okaaaay’ as it just wasn’t something I’d ever want to hang on my wall. But it’s not a picture you’re ever likely to forget, and I have to confess that over time it started to intrigue me.

I was therefore delighted to discover Liliane Milgrom’s book inspired by this painting, and which is utterly fascinating. I don’t know which element of it I enjoy the most: the eye-opening, autobiographical prologue that gives an insight into being an artist and copyist, the narrative fiction recreation of the painting’s creation, the portrayal of the Parisian art scene, the peeks into the lives of the main characters we meet or the glimpses of how art dealing works. Each aspect of the book is richly detailed and riveting.

Artist Liliane Milgrom is as deft with a pen as a paintbrush. She has an inviting, easy-to-read style. We learn so much from this novel whilst being thoroughly entertained. Just as a sleek, superb finished painting belies the hours of painstaking labour with inevitable frustrations and struggles that went into it, so too must an immense amount of background labour gone into this novel in terms of research, not to the mention the weeks the artist spent in Paris copying the painting. All that hard work pays dividends many times over.

I shall definitely be heading to the Musée d’Orsay to see this painting, very aptly in the flesh, once pandemic-related restrictions are lifted. Very much something to look forward to, since I now have a vast new appreciation for L’origine du monde. I’m also rather hoping Ms Milgrom will write another novel soon too!



L'Origine - Lilianne MilgromLilianne Milgrom
Paris-born Lilianne Milgrom
is an award-winning international artist,
writer on the arts and author.
Her art can be found in both private and institutional collections
around the world
and her articles have been published in
Huffington Post, Daily Art Magazine, Ceramics Now and Bonjour Paris.
Her 5-star, bestselling novel ‘L’Origine‘ is the result of ten years of research
and was accepted into the Historical Novel Society.
Lilianne lives in Washington DC with her husband.

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5 winners will receive an ecopy of this book



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  1. Bonjour Stephanie! As an author yourself, I am sure you can appreciate that your wonderful review really put a smile on my face 🙂 Thank you so much for appreciating all aspects of L’Origine – publishers and agents were so opposed to my vision but in the end I feel I have been vindicated!
    I just signed up to receive your blog – what an adventure you are on! (I loved the blog about the lavoir…)
    I so have another book project in mind – a children’s book – and perhaps I can pick your brain about that field one of these days…

  2. Hello! I am commenting again because it appears my previous comment did not go through and I just couldn’t let that happen! You made my day with your fantastic review and insightful comments. It is so rewarding that you really ‘got’ every aspect of the book. I was motivated to write L’Origine so that the painting’s remarkable story and history could reach readers like you! I wish you all the best of luck on your adventurous life with your human and animal family!

    1. Thank you Lilianne, for both your wonderful book and your best wishes! Life isn’t quite so adventurous just at present in the midst of the pandemic and numerous lockdowns, but hopefully things will pick up for all of us in the next few months as we creep nearer normality. Kindest regards 🙂

  3. This sounds like quite the fascinating book! This is my first time learning about the painting and I am impressed by the amount of history behind it. I look forward to reading this soon!

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