Spotlight on “Vincent’s Women” by Donna Russo

by LitStack Editor

Vincent’s Women: The Untold Story of the Loves of Vincent van Gogh
represents historical fiction at its best.

Vincent's Women and author Donna Russo

Donna Russo’s ‘Vincent’s Women’ is the untold story of Vincent’s loves: how they shaped his life, his art, and his death. It writes against the ‘myths, ‘ exploring the possibility that none of them are true. It is the only novel to bring into question his sexuality, how he lost his ear, who he lost it for, and how he might have died, all through the eyes of a woman. We learn of Her; we learn all of it through Her.

The story is guided by Johanna van Gogh Bonger, Vincent’s sister-in-law, as she decides to reveal the truth about Vincent to her son. We are then taken on a journey through Vincent’s life, each section bringing a pivotal moment of Vincent’s life alive while showing us the part she played in bringing it about. Between each woman, our guide, Johanna, gives us the transitional periods, right up to his death, which is now in question.

Hundreds of the nearly thousand letters between Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo, now considered one of the greatest documents of the human experience, were used to help construct this novel, its narrative, and dialogue, especially the dialogue of Vincent himself.

Vincent van Gogh is one of the most well-known artists of all time. The world knows of his madness, traumas, and suicide. But what if all that we know isn’t true? What if this knowledge is based on rumors and nothing more? What if his true story is vastly different when based on factual material and forensic information? What if the truth of Vincent’s life-his madness and his genius-is defined by his never-ending search for love?

Source: Publisher
ISBN-13: 9784824185778
Publisher: Next Chapter
Publication date: 04/02/2024


“You think you know him. You don’t. You think you know what happened to him. You do not.

Vincent’s Women: The Untold Story of the Loves of Vincent van Gogh represents historical fiction at its best by melding the myths and facts of the artist’s life with a dramatic biographical inspection that explores underlying truths about the pivotal moments of Vincent’s life.

Narrated by Johanna van Gogh Bonger (Vincent’s sister-in-law), it translates to fiction the hundreds (out of nearly thousands) of letters between Vincent and his brother Theo, adding the value of Johanna van Gogh-Bonger’s diaries and correspondence with Theo van Gogh, along with the journals and memoir of Paul Gauguin. This triangle of factual writings results in a dialogue of discoveries and insights which will prove especially attractive to art collections that include fictional representations of artists alongside nonfiction surveys.

General-interest readers who have some basic familiarity with van Gogh’s mystique and legends will also find Vincent’s Women compelling. The story addresses many questions about his life, from his missing ear to his madness and suicide.

Her evocative voice drives a series of events that conclude in revelations and surprises driven by an article published in the American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology in Dec. 2020 that postulated the logic in this story and about Vincent’s death.

Donna Russo excels in vivid descriptions of these pivotal points in Vincent’s life. These drive the fact-based story in a manner that explains, explores, and provides powerful insights into the artist’s self-destructive impulses and actions and how they were perceived and interpreted by those around him:

“I know your soft heart, my darling. But a single word from you—just the sight of you—and he will never leave. He will get worse.”

“Worse!” Kee recoiled. “What can be worse than burning your own flesh?”

“Burning ours. He is mad, surely you can see—”

The result is a multifaceted exploration of van Gogh’s artistry, insanity, and relationships that examines personal perspectives in a unique manner designed to attract both art readers and those who hold only a cursory knowledge of the times and van Gogh’s life and creations.

Backed by solid research and driven by the devices of fictional drama and dialogue, Vincent’s Women is especially highly recommended for art libraries that may not usually contain fictional works, but which will find Russo’s scholarship and the marriage between it and embellished drama to be astute, thought-provoking, and revealing.


“A radiant and compelling novel of the painter Vincent van Gogh told by the women who knew him through his brief, often troubled, and sometimes joyful life. Each woman, from a cousin, a prostitute, an elderly nun, his devoted sister-in-law, and even his difficult mother, loved him in different ways. I kept hoping in turn that each would be the one to save him from his always returning darkness.

“Donna Russo Morin writes as lyrically and perceptively as a van Gogh painting, making me fall in love with his work all over again, this painter who “had the beauty of the world in him.” One of the most wonderful books about an artist I have ever read.”—Stephanie Cowell, Author of Claude and Camille: a novel of Monet, and Marrying Mozart. Recipient American Book Award.

“With the dazzling color of a van Gogh canvas, Vincent’s Women brings the artist to vivid life. Russo cleverly reveals the man through the eyes of the women who shaped him and his work, while challenging commonly held notions about his legend. I was left with an even greater appreciation of his art and with a deep respect for Russo’s research and writing. A powerful and satisfying read.”—Lynn Cullen, bestselling author of The Woman with the Cure and Mrs. Poe

Depiction of possible Vincent's Women by Donna Russo
Vincent's Women author Donna Russo

Donna Russo was born in Providence, Rhode Island. Her writing endeavors began at age six and covered such timely topics as The Pink Pussy Cat for President and The  Numbers 2 and 4 are in Love.

Traveling through adolescence on the wings of the ‘60s gave Donna a lot of grist for her writing mill. Feminism, civil rights, the Vietnam War were all a disturbing yet highly motivating muse. Donna found her voice in fiction and with the appearance of a new horror writer on the book scene, a little-known author named Stephen King, she turned her pen to the gruesome and the grotesque.

After graduating from the University of Rhode Island, Donna worked in marketing and advertising for large corporations and small non-profit arts organizations. When she had her children, she knew with a certainty that she needed to show them, by example, that if you believe in yourself, anything is possible. Source:

You can find and follow Donna Russo on her website, on Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter).


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