Reviews

What People Say about Sculpted Love

5 star Lockdown Lit! I loved the combination of fully-researched history and fiction: I’m full of admiration. Are people competing for the film rights, because it seems to me to have all the right ingredients: love interest, period costumes, even the opportunity for a bit of a battle scene? Congratulations again on such a creative lock-down achievement!
Nick Ray, Fellow of Jesus College Cambridge, architect and writer

“First of all, Marcus, I admire you for being creative during lockdown! I thought I had written about your book which I enjoyed immensely, but I found my unfinished old stale letter in an outbox, so I guess I didn’t. I had an art teacher at the Academy in Florence called Meli, not François but Francesco. The only objection I have for Sculpted Lives was I thought the love scenes were too free, like they would be today, thanks to the pill. Pregnancy was no joke, some women lost their lives, contraception was considered immoral, other means were used but not necessarily valid. Of course only the girls would have worried about such things. And maybe they will in the future thanks to Amy Coney Barrett and other Republicans!” Name withheld.

A novel that weaves the reader through an eclectic mix of art, history, hypnotherapy, sex and warfare. The author courts controversy with his juxtaposition of feminism and the strictures of 19th century high society. Uniquely illustrated with period paintings which reflect an often wistful time of undeclared love this novel satisfies on many levels. Diana Bunyan, London. author

I finished reading your wonderful book yesterday! I was captured right from the opening chapter.  Your insightful descriptions of all the characters brought them alive to such an extent that I felt they were my personal friends!  I found the narrative very interesting in the way it encompassed both art and history as a background to a very engaging story I just loved the entire book and can’t wait for your second book! Elizabeth R Conway, Taunton

I can’t recommend Sculpted Love highly enough. A very ‘different’ read with much to learn from its depiction of hypnosis, art nouveau, the Franco Prussian war and female emancipation in the 1890s. And the sex is good! Buy it today!
Ginny Felton, Director, British American Project.

Marcus Bicknell, a Renaissance Man – musical entrepreneur, pilot and now novelist – has produced a fascinating work of historical fiction. It recounts the agonies of the citizens of Nancy in eastern France as they wrestle with the changing social and sexual  mores of the end of the nineteenth century soon after the Franco-Prussian war. It is full of unexpected dramas, such as the early days of medical hypnotism. Unusual in such a novel are drawings of  nude sculptures to charm the reader. Michael Nelson, writer, https://michaelnelsonbooks.com

I really enjoyed your writing style, with proper words, detailed attention and thoughtful grammar. The characters are coherent and consistent as well as psychologically defined. The surprising end may seem extreme but credible. A great work! Will you wait for the second wave of pandemic lockdown to write another one? Alain d’Aboville, author and publisher. https://cacaosource.com/

A Tour de Force by this new author. It combines a gripping yarn with the Beaux Arts of Nancy in the 1890s. It is beautifully illustrated by artwork of the period and special drawings inspired by the story. I cannot wait for the sequel. Roger Miall, South Harting, UK

Just read Sculpted Love.  Astonishing achievement to write fiction, in my view.  And lots of period detail, historical material etc.  Congratulations on your achievement. Name withheld

Full marks. Amazon: Top reviews from United Kingdom: 4.7 out of 5 stars. Two intertwined love stories in Belle-Epoque France. Two young women come of age in late 19th Century France, a time of growing sexual liberation and the flowering of artistic ideas in the Belle Epoque. Full marks for painting a vivid, even erudite portrait of the time, and for introducing us to two charming protagonists. Both of the girls are attractive, intelligent, and seeking to escape the constraints of their very different backgrounds. The ways in which they find fulfilment will test their friendship. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 October 2020. Verified Purchase by Geoffrey Gudgion, Beaconsfield UK.

Sculpted Love: A cracking read. I devoured it in three days. Shocking start. Shocking end. Both worked well. Here’s my stream-of-consciousness notes I scribbled as I went along; Punchy start grabs the reader; Cracking pace; I like the staccato style; The illustrations beautifully compliment the prose; Scrupulously researched; Tad disjointed at times with plot a bit stop start; Torrent of names overdone at times; Dreams vivid and riveting; You really get to care about the characters; Letters lively and naturalistic; Dialogue fluid and effective; Love the way it gets increasingly romantic; Delightful love scenes. No danger of a Bad Sex Award!!  Son’s death genuinely shocking; Loose ends neatly tied up at end.”
Paul Majendie, Lecturer on Design, Creative and Digital Industries at the University of West-minster, London, and correspondent for Reuters since 1970 – Paris, Hong Kong, Canada and Dublin.

This is a captivating story artfully told, an amazing tour de force by a first time novelist.  The story opens with a dramatic narrative of an accident in which the wife and daughter of Duchien, a sculpture artist, die. We are soon introduced to two young ladies through the use of the epistolary novel technique which allows the reader to feel the emotions and get inside the heads of these characters central to the ensuing love story.  The story is engaging throughout and wonderfully weaves the psychological travails of Duchien with the romantic adventures and nicely differentiated character portrayals of the two young ladies, who are dear friends. The author’s detailed research of the geography and history of this region of northeast France is evident as he provides insights into life there in the late nineteenth century. European history buffs will love the tie-in the author makes to the 1870 siege of Metz during the Franco-European war, while art aficionados will revel in the artwork he includes.  The story is perhaps a little too neatly tied up at the end but readers will still be left wondering where this talented author has been hiding. Neil Bicknell, Scarsdale, New York, USA

I enjoyed this book very much; it has a plot that carries you along. I learnt a lot from the narrative, about the war and the beginnings of art nouveau and the fleeing of so many creative types to Nancy; I also love love love the inclusion of all the art! Bruce Kennett, author and award-winning designer of books and exhibition catalogues. https://brucekennett.com/

“Emile Friant artist from Nancy (1863-1932) inspired Marcus Bicknell’s book ‘Sculpted Love’ available on Amazon and written in eight weeks during lockdown. Highly recommended.”  James M’kenzie-hall, tour director and writer

Another interesting review from one of the world’s top cineasts, Tris Miall, 8th October 2020… “I’m writing this waiting for the vice-presidential debate to start in a world that seems light years away from nineteenth century Nancy. Anyway, I wanted to tell you what an interesting read I found Sculpted Love: original, introducing me to lots of things I didn’t know about, multi-protagonist, insightful use of psychological damage and its pathway to healing, and shifting frontiers and identities. I loved Emile Friant’s drawings, the sensibility of the sex scenes, the contrasting characters of the two young women, and the quiet strength of Duchien. So I hope you keep going. On with the next one!” Tristram Miall, Sydney, Producer of Strictly Ballroom (the 1992 Australian romantic comedy film directed and co-written by Baz Luhrmann), What If It Works?, Creative Minds, The Black Balloon, Looking for Alibrandi, A Little Bit of Soul , Children of the Revolution, Billy’s Holiday , Malpractice , Prejudice , Cane Toads: An Unnatural History and Hellfire Pass.

This is a beautiful book. Suffused with knowledge and imagination, it both enriches and entertains. Set against a historical backdrop of the Franco-Prussian war, this novel is full of factual information about art nouveau, including photographs of authentic paintings and sketches. This work also reflects upon new opportunities for women through education and work, at a time when female empowerment was just emerging. There are also interesting scientific and medical links through Dr.Bernheim’s use of hypnotherapy to treat psychological trauma, a precursor of Freud’s development of psychoanalysis. I found the factual side of the book fascinating and inspiring. Yet the fictional side gives the book its warmth and charm, transporting the reader into the exotic romantic lives of its two female protagonists, Nathalie and Cécile. These are women with whom we can identify: their friendship and their love stories capture our imagination and empathy. This is love, life and passion in the very best sense of the word. Suitable for both male and female readers, the book has lots of beautiful French and references to France, which I really enjoyed. Overall I found ‘Sculpted Love’ difficult to put down.” Charlotte Worthington, French teacher in Little Chalfont, MA Selwyn College, University of Cambridge, in French, German and German Thought.

I really enjoyed this book, building in the sculpture in the story with all the interesting history of the time , made it different in a good way. The story itself became a page turner for me and I loved it. Very clever writing congratulations Marcus.
Pauline Odulinski OBE MBA, Visiting Professor Buckinghamshire New University

Marcus, I just finished the book yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was engaging and I thoroughly enjoyed the context of art, history, society, and industry in late nineteenth century Nancy. I was also very invested in the girls’ stories – thank you for the wonderful read! Madeline Crowe, entrepreneur, artist and dancer in San Francisco

Outstanding and sensual.
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)

Scandalous. We are not amused. Victoria (Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland, Empress of India, 1819-1901)

Unputdownable.
Sig Freud (1856-1939)

Wish I’d written it.
Marcel Proust (1871-1922)