Synopses & Reviews
Bestselling author Susan Vreeland returns with a vivid exploration of one of the most beloved Renoir paintings in the world.
Instantly recognizable, Auguste Renoir's masterpiece depicts a gathering of his real friends enjoying a summer Sunday on a café terrace along the Seine near Paris. A wealthy painter, an art collector, an Italian journalist, a war hero, a celebrated actress, and Renoirs future wife, among others, share this moment of la vie moderne, a time when social constraints were loosening and Paris was healing after the Franco-Prussian War. Parisians were bursting with a desire for pleasure and a yearning to create something extraordinary out of life. Renoir shared these urges and took on this most challenging project at a time of personal crises in art and love, all the while facing issues of loyalty and the diverging styles that were tearing apart the Impressionist group.
Narrated by Renoir and seven of the models and using settings in Paris and on the Seine, Vreeland illuminates the gusto, hedonism, and art of the era. With a gorgeous palette of vibrant, captivating characters, she paints their lives, loves, losses, and triumphs in a brilliant portrait of her own.
"Imagining the banks of the Seine in the thick of la vie moderne, Vreeland (Girl in Hyacinth Blue) tracks Auguste Renoir as he conceives, plans and paints the 1880 masterpiece that gives her vivid fourth novel its title. Renoir, then 39, pays the rent on his Montmartre garret by painting 'overbred society women in their fussy parlors,' but, goaded by negative criticism from mile Zola, he dreams of doing a breakout work. On July 20, the daughter of a resort innkeeper close to Paris suggests that Auguste paint from the restaurant's terrace. The party of 13 subjects Renoir puts together (with difficulty) eventually spends several Sundays drinking and flirting under the spell of the painter's brush. Renoir, who declares, 'I only want to paint women I love,' falls desperately for his newest models, while trying to win his last subject back from her rich fianc. But Auguste and his friends only have two months to catch the light he wants and fend off charges that he and his fellow Impressionists see the world 'through rose-colored glasses.' Vreeland achieves a detailed and surprising group portrait, individualized and immediate." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A]n amazingly engrossing reinvigoration of the lives of the individuals who modeled for Renoir...all are given a third dimension in Vreeland's lovely prose, beyond the two dimensions in which they were painted." Booklist (Starred Review)
"[A] profoundly moving portrait of the creative process and of a community of people who came together for a moment to help create one great work." Library Journal
"As impressionistically dazzling and humane as the Renoir painting that inspires it, Luncheon of the Boating Party is itself a true work of art that blends the manifest joys and the impossible longings of life into a single coherent vision. Susan Vreeland has for some time been one of our finest writers, and this is her best book yet." Robert Olen Butler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
A bestselling author returns with a vivid exploration of one of the most beloved paintings in history: Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party.
A vivid exploration of one of the most beloved Renoir paintings in the world, ?done with a flourish worthy of Renoir himself? (USA Today)
With her richly textured novels, Susan Vreeland has offered pioneering portraits of artists? lives. Now, as she did in Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Vreeland once again focuses on a single painting?Auguste Renoir?s instantly recognizable masterpiece, which depicts a gathering of Renoir?s real friends enjoying a summer Sunday on a cafand#233; terrace along the Seine. Narrated by Renoir and seven of the models, the novel illuminates the gusto, hedonism, and art of the era. With a gorgeous palette of vibrant, captivating characters, Vreeland paints their lives, loves, losses, and triumphs so vividly that ?the painting literally comes alive? (The Boston Globe).
About the Author
Susan Vreeland is the internationally renowned bestselling author of Girl in Hyacinth Blue, The Passion of Artemisia, The Forest Lover, and a collection of stories, Life Studies. Her novels have been translated into twenty-five languages.