For me there is no better way to learn about history than the historic novel. "The Judgement of Paris" follows the parallel careers of the French painters Meissonier & Manet: one the most respected and sought-after painters of his day, the other a struggling artist who would eventually help define the Impressionist art movement.
The story goes back & forth between the careers of both men before, during and just after the time that the Impressionists were setting up their own public showing, after being refused from the Paris Salon. You get a real feel for the sensibility, politics, art and people of that period of time. All in a very entertaining manner, that doesn't feel like a text book. It's the kind of story that will have you running to the library or internet to look up the lesser known paintings and sculptures that are mentioned throughout.
Entirely enthralling historical novel about Renoir, his famous painting and the lives of each of the models who posed for "Luncheon of the Boating Party". By the end of the book you care for each of the characters and hope the story will never end. An entertaining insight into the "modern life" of impressionistic-era France, this well-researched tale will leave you wanting more. Do yourself a favor and carry a copy of the painting with you when you listen, so you can identify each model and follow the references Vreeland makes to the landscape, still life and mysterious 14th figure within the painting.
Here's the bright side: If you've ever dreamed of writing a book, but had absolutely nothing to say, this book will be a huge inspiration for you. The author prattles on and on in a series of unrelated and boring antic dotes, all the while quoting other authors and their books. I agree that it can be uplifting to hear other survivors’ success stories, but this is more like a list of people she has known or heard about who have been fortunate enough to overcome their obstacle and learn from it. They aren't even complete stories.
I have tried repeatedly to listen to this book, but have yet to get more than half way through it. At one point the author relates how she was fired from Vogue magazine, not because she was a bad writer, but because she "didn't know anything". She still doesn't. And her style is annoying.
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