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.
©2007 Susan Vreeland; (P)2007 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc., and Books on Tape. All rights reserved.
"A carefully constructed historical novel." (Booklist)
"Vivid....Vreeland achieves a detailed and surprising group portrait, individualized and immediate." (Publishers Weekly)
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.
Great audio book-- in part because Karen White, the narrator is so perfect for this book. This book brings alive Paris in the 1880's still recovering from the Prussian war. It had great detail intertwined with a great love story. Overall, a great audio book. The listener needs an appreciation of Impressionist art to get the full benefit from it, however.
I downloaded this book on the strength of Vreeland's other art-oriented novel (really a collection of interrelated short stories), The Girl in Hyacinth Blue, and because of my interest in the impressionist painters. It starts off slowly and doesn't get much better. The author is undoubtedly trying to replicate the feel of a warm, lazy day on the Seine, just as the painting does, but the style gets old quickly. It also seems that she is impressed with her own research on painting (too many repetitions of colors: rose madder, Prussian blue, etc., over and over and over--I just wanted to SEE the painting after all that). While there are a lot of characters, most of them remain slight and superficial. Go to the Phillips, see the famous painting, and read a biography of Renoir. You'll learn more and enjoy it more.
This is a great imaginative journey into the Paris of the impressionists. It could be better. Some of the characters are annoying. The history is clunky. The relationships are sometimes overwrought.
However, the hero- Renoir- is intriguing, funny and compelling. When he is around the book is great. Most of his friends are lovable. The real stars are French food, Paris and the materials Renoir and the others used to create wonderful paintings. So if you think you like (or could like) Paris, food and art, I would give it a go. If not, my commiserations. I've listened twice and can't quite decide if I really like it.
I felt genuinely sad to have finished this book. Karen White's narration was warm and brilliant, her French pronounciation excellent.
Artist, writer, wife, mom and book lover.
An image of the painting with the characters names, like a map.
Read this as you would view an impressionist painting. Capture the essence of the book through fast reading and lingering on the areas that truly interest you. This is not an "easy read." She really captures the intensity of what it feels like to be an artist and more specifically a painter. I say this from personal knowledge, I am a painter and an MFA.
I have listened to several other Susan Vreeland titles and found them wonderful! This one, however, I finally gave up on after 16 chapters (less than half). There did not seem to be a unifying story, and the characters were not compelling. Perhaps I wasn't listening carefully enough. I wish I had spent my money on something else.
The facts of Renoir were interesting but to many french words without knowing the meanings made it hard to understand. No one in our book club liked the book overall. We had all attended an Impressinist Art Show and enjoyed the art work. Were excited to read the book, but it got stuck on this one painting and alot of character with messed up lives and created pity parties for each other. Renoir was excentric like many other painters.
By the way we all loved the Girl in the Blue Hyacinth.
"Good story but poor narration"
A good story and decent history of the impressionists. However, the narrator murders the French words and names in the story ...her accent is deplorable or, rather, nonexistent. I found this terribly grating!
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