Title: Luncheon of the Boating Party
Author: Susan Vreeland
Narrator: Karen White
Length: 17 hours
Published in: 2007
Source: borrowed from library
Reason for Reading: browsed the audiobooks at the library and picked it off the shelf at random
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
My Thoughts: Creating a story from a work of art is always something I have liked. In high school, I went to a nearby art museum for a class about once a month. Sometimes we would be assigned to pick a piece of art and write a story about how the picture came to be or a story about the present moment captured in the picture. That is what this story is. Susan Vreeland creates a history of Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party, giving voices to the people within the painting and a story of how Renoir came to create it.
I’m also very interested in Europe during the mid- to late-1800s, for no particular reason. I just find that era interesting, when technology was really coming to the front. Technology made life change and that is probably what interests me most. The story takes place around the same time the real painting was done, in 1880-81.
My Thoughts on the Narration: I have listened to a few books by Karen White before and I could immediately tell that I’d heard the voice before when I stuck this CD in on my way to work one morning. The Secret Life of Bees and The Peach Keeper are her audios I’ve listened to. I find her voice very soothing and comforting.