Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland, Renoir, Love = Cruise

 In Books

Have you ever been so taken by a novel that you dreamed of seeing the sites mentioned in it? That happened to me with Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland.

It started with the cover. The painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir! The hats, the shawls, the tables, the wine, the joy of it. A gathering of friends enjoying a meal by the Seine. I was captivated by the details, the time period.

Here’s the Goodreads description:

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 Renoir’s 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.

There’s something about Impressionist art that draws me in and holds on. Put me in front of a Monet, a Renoir, a Sisley, a Pissarro painting, and it’s hard from to walk away.

So, it’s not surprising that I was taken in by this novel. In addition to this gorgeous painting, Edmond Rutherford gave wrote an outstanding endorsement:

Vreeland magically transported me into the wonderful world of Renoir and his models. I lived there, tasted and breathed the atmosphere. A rich, compulsive read.

    –Edward Rutherfurd, author of The Rebels of Ireland, and London

To learn more about the author’s inspiration, visit the author’s background page.

I was hooked.

Luncheon of the Boating Party drew me into the lives of not on Renoir, but the people in the painting—his models, his friends, and the woman who eventually became his wife. To delve into the life of this artist and models, prostitutes, people working along the Seine, their passions and problems.  This novel transports the reader to this time period and I wanted more.

So, my husband and I took a special river boat cruise to experience and see more Impressionist art. We used Grand Circle Travel. Another choice would be  Vantage Travel.

For me, the experience brought the book to life. To see the sites where some of the most famous Impressionist artists painted was extraordinary. From Nice to cruising on the Rhône River, it was an experience I won’t forget. (It was really hot, and that I didn’t enjoy. 105 degrees!)

We saw where Monet retired in Giverny. The colors, the lush landscape, the fields of flowers, the wine, the food, the gardens. The blues, the greens, the shimmering light bouncing off the Mediterranean. The beaches of stones, the crashing waves.  There is nothing like seeing this beauty in person!

I could go on and on about how beautiful the scenery was and how much we enjoyed the art, but words aren’t enough. Instead, I recommend that you experience these artists first-hand. Perhaps you could take a cruise. But if not, go to a museum that has Impressionist art. If you don’t have access that way, search the internet and look at their photos.

We all need beauty in our lives, and art can be a wonderful avenue to make that happen!


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