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In the novel, Gachet helps Vincent commit suicide by leaving a gun for him to find. (In real life, it was never discovered how Vincent obtained the gun, nor was it ever found.)

Miss Wallace has done remarkable research, and her portraits of the doctor, his children and the van Gogh family - Vincent, Theo and Theos wife, Joanna - are drawn in exquisite detail. “Leaving Van Gogh” is based on fact, but it is, in the end, a novel, a fascinating and moving one, told with rich detail.

Dr. Gachet concludes that Vincent van Gogh “changed the way I saw the world. To this day, I look at the shadow beneath a bank of willows and see the brown, the green, the purple tones together, contrasting with the yellow, green and even orange of the leaves. I notice patterns in the windows of city buildings or the ties of a railroad track, and I am always aware of the relations between colors, like the way a brick wall heightens the intensity of a green vine. … [Vincent] was able to create haunting images that reached the heart of the viewer. That was his astounding gift to the world.”

So too, do Miss Wallace’s words heighten the pleasure of reading historical fiction.

Corinna Lothar is a writer and critic in Washington.