In the summer of 1943, artist Chaim Soutine is living in the small French village of Champigny-sur-Veude with his lover, Marie-Berthe Aurenche. All of France is Nazi-occupied, curfews enforced, Jews rounded up and sent to camps, and the Gestapo has been hunting for the famous Jewish painter who has fled Paris. Chronically ill from ulcers, his condition steadily worsening, Soutine persists in painting landscapes and portraits in the shadow of German authority. One day he meets a curious, crippled young boy, Jean-Pierre Chartier, whose portrait Soutine decides to paint, enthralled by the boy's stark face. During the long, hot summer, as Nazis close in and his illness becomes grievous, Soutine and Jean-Pierre forge an unusual bond, though Jean-Pierre combats opposition from his family who dislike the unkempt Russian painter. Through a series of flashbacks, the author explores crucial moments in Soutine's life - from his early days in an impoverished shtetl to his glory days in Paris - to his flight from the Nazis. In the final months of his life Soutine persists in his beloved craft, but he looks on in horror as a confused Jean-Pierre unwittingly becomes a pawn of the Nazis, and Soutine realizes how dangerous their unusual friendship has suddenly become.
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Used availability for Edward Ifkovic's Soutine in Exile