Although the details of Monet’s life are historically accurate, in Light, Eva Figes is dealing with the obsession of an artist, not with history or biography. The overriding desire of Monet is to show in his paintings “how light and those things it illumines are both transubstantial, both tenuous.” His goal is to capture the shifting and disappearing substance of this world both natural and human substance to see through the luminous cloud which envelops each person and part of nature. Only in the early morning hours can he seize, he believes, the actual tone and color of earthly life. Ultimately, Monet knows, he will die before he can complete his quest, but with each new day, he is reinvigorated with the challenge of trying.
Monet, in godlike fashion, has designed his estate at Giverny, with the lush gardens and the lily pond, as his own natural world. Yet the isolation of the characters in Light is inescapable. Alice talks to voices in her head at night; she and Monet have no mutually sustaining words or conversation. When there is something to see, Monet cannot hear. Marthe has felt closer to some of the servants than she has ever felt to members of her own family. Jean-Pierre can no longer get Michel to say anything.
The other members of the household recognize themselves in relation to the artist but not to one another. In their isolated inner struggles, Monet believes that the spiritual is omnipresent, while...
(The entire section is 519 words.)