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Life Studies

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3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  600 ratings  ·  61 reviews
A New York Times Bestselling AuthorAfter writing two novels in which artists are the central heroines in their stories, Susan Vreeland has written a deeply moving, richly textured collection of stories that explore art through the eyes of ordinary people. Rather than focusing directly on great Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists, Vreeland shifts her lens to those ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 468 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by Thorndike Press (first published 2004)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,366)
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Karen
Susan Vreeland is a beautiful writer and takes a very creative approach to her novels of great artists and their works. One of my favorite lines from this book: "How powerful a thing love is, that one loves past death, past regret, past all logic, and feels purified by that loving." ("Winter of Abandon") This book is a collection of short stories about different artists that are contemporaries (Renoir, Monet, Manet, Morisot, et al) and a look behind the scenes of some of their paintings. She spe ...more
Diane Ferbrache
Susan Vreeland has taught me more about art than any "art book" or class. I've read several of her books and really liked all of them (especially Girl in Hyacinth Blue). This one had me puzzled at first. I hadn't noticed the part of the title that said "stories", so when I tried to read this as a novel, I was thoroughly confused. Once I realized that every chapter was really a different vignette, I fell in love with this book.

From Paris in 1876 to present day Laguna Beach, each story focuses on
...more
Jodi
When I first started listening to the audio version of this book, I didn't like it. The reader's voice grated on my nerves. But as I listened (flipping channels on the radio can only be done for so many miles), I began to enjoy the stories of the everyday people in the lives of famous artists. By everyday people, I mean Monet's gardener, the Manet families' wet nurse, the little boy who threw a stone at Cézanne... Through these stories, art and artists come to life, but as side characters.
Bonnieb
I love Susan Vreeland’s other works (The Passion of Artemesia, The Forest Lover, and Girl in Hyacinth Blue); thus, I thought I would love this. It was just all right...not nearly as engaging as her other books. Life Studies is a collection of short stories situated over the past century and always with an art theme/setting. The early stories are personal vignettes of some of the Impressionist artists, including Manet, Picasso, Renoir, Monet. Then ones of a generation later and finally some from ...more
Jennifer Prim
I re-read this collection of short stories in anticipation of Susan Vreeland's upcoming book, Lisette's List. Section one, stories about ordinary people who came in contact with artists of the Impressionist era touched me deeply, as Vreeland so beautifully captures the depth of emotion, the magnitude of human frailty, of love, and of loss. Each story leaves you wanting more. The story of Modigliani's daughter left me in tears, the relationship between Monet and his gardener; the tension between ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Vreeland, whose Girl in Hyacinth Blue (1999) fictionalized the story behind a Vermeer painting, again blends fact and fiction to bring artists and the lives of those affected by them to life. She approaches her subjects, from Renoir to a young girl coming to terms with death, with emotional sensitivity and great humanity, revealing how they, too, survive daily life. With a wonderful eye for detail and thorough research, she recreates the Impressionist and post-Impressionist worlds. A few minor q

...more
Maayan Schwab
This collection is divided into three sections. The first, which is comprised of a series of stories about the world's great painters, from Cezanne and Manet to Modigliani and Van Gogh, is enchanting and lovely. Imagined stories based on EXTENSIVE research with fictional characters mixed in with the real. They are fun and enticing little windows into the "maybe." The middle section is one story, an interlude, bridging the past and the perspective of the artists with the future/present and those ...more
Julia
Jun 24, 2009 Julia rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of popular fiction
Recommended to Julia by: book club
We just finished our book club meeting about these short stories, and we found them interesting since each is based on an artist or connected to art in some way.

However, the collection is uneven, with my individual scores for the stories ranging from 1 to 5. My favorite is the one about the daughter who is a potter and is dealing with her mother's slide into dementia. It brought me to tears and was the best of the bunch for me.

However, the early stories lacked central characters who were likabl
...more
Anne
The author had some interesting ideas with her stories about people who were connected in some way to Impressionist artists, rather than the artist him or herself as in her previous two novels. I did not think that the characters were developed that well. The better developed characters, I felt, were those of the contemporary characters in the later stories. It was an okay book.
Kelly McCloskey-Romero
Lovely... reading these stories, all revolving around art and split between 19th century France and contemporary America, was delicious. I loved the way she imagined the truth/fiction behind real paintings. I wish she had included a list of the paintings at the end... I looked for them myself online, and I suppose that was part of the fun.
Barry Stoch
Couldn't give it a 4 star rating, a 3.5 would be more representative.
The book was divided into stories of peripheral people of impressionist artists and Post-Impressionist artists like Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, and Modigliani and more current times where art had influenced someone's life. 3 stars for 1st half, 4 stars for the later half, which had an enjoyable flow to the writing.
Patricia
Ms Vreeland has done it again. This collection of short stories is superbly researched and excellently written. The Art World is the recurring theme, sometimes the past, sometimes the present.
Marti
I'm enjoying the art history in this book more than I thought I would.

Probably wouldn't have picked this book up if I knew it was short stories.
Suzanne
I had enjoyed Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Vreeland's work of historical fiction based on the painter, Vermeer, so I was eager to read more. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy Life Studies at all. It's a series of short stories featuring a glimpse into the lives of several painters, mostly French impressionists. The stories, however, were mostly about their wives and lovers, and not very interesting at all. I found myself skimming towards the latter part of the book, because I just wanted to move on to an ...more
Bonnie
I'm always a little hesitant to start a book of short stories. More often than not I read one disappointing story and put the book aside, saying I'll try another later but then I never do b/c there are too many good novels out there to read.
Luckily this book of short stories were all great. It helped that they all had the same theme, none had horribly tragic endings, all were well written and had a great range of topics even though they all were involved with art in some way.. Amazing
Shea
I usually enjoy short stories but for some reason most of these seemed lacking to me. All the stories revolved around art or famous artists, which is a wonderful premise but it did not intrigue me as I thought it would. I enjoyed the "Now" stories more than those based on the real artists of the impressionist era. I felt I was missing something when I was not very familiar with their art. I would recommend this book to an art lover but for just a regular reader I would pass.
Amanda
The book is divided into two sections, with the first occurring in the past, and the second in the present day: the first section was weaker, with the exception of the story about Modigliani's daughter, and I found myself skimming through a few. The second section, however, was excellent, and I felt that a few of them were stories I would love to see fleshed out into a longer piece. I feel like you would get more out of this book if you're an art fan, but it's a quick, nice read.
Meghan
Jul 17, 2014 Meghan rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Meghan by: Danielle
Shelves: chick-lit, fiction
I'm not really sure how I feel about this book - I approached it as if it were a novel and I was disappointed. If I started reading it with the expectations I hold for short stories (which is what this book was, if you really think about it) I think I would have enjoyed it more. However, I had a hard time following the story lines and the characters; it seemed very jumbled and I don't feel like there was a set beginning, middle and end. In the end I was left thinking, "was that it?"
Elisabeth
I enjoyed this book of short stories about life and art. The book is divided into three sections--stories about people who interact in ordinary ways with great painters such as Monet, Manet, and Renoir; an folk-tale type story about 2 Italians who set out to see great art, and modern day stories about how art touches people lives.

I was impressed with how Vreeland made you feel like you were there for each story, and that the people were real and fresh.
Rachael
This collection of stories about art, love, and the transformative properties of both was a gift from a friend who absolutely loved it. Vreeland is adept at expressing the beauty of art, but the idea that art is worth all sacrifice was repeated a bit too often without challenge, aside from maybe the Nourrice story. I preferred the more modern stories, but would have enjoyed the entire collection more if there was more variation in theme and tone.
Christine
I like Vreeland books because I like art. She always takes an artist or a painting and writes a work of fiction around it, including lots of art history. This one was a little different in that she wrote short stories about various artists from the perspective of another person in their lives, sometimes a family member and sometimes just a friend of employee. Having the artist be the minor character was unique and I enjoyed all the stories.
Sara Elise
A story of painting and the painters who painted them, the readers of this novel (or collection of short stories that are clearly connected, if you will) are invited into the private dreams and lives of some of the impressionists. And that's just part 1. In part 2 we find ourselves in modern times, being treated to an insight into the way art can influence, for better or for worse, the everyday lives of our fellow citizens.
Pat
Wonderful short stories.
Bethany
I have never been a huge fan of the short story, but since finding Susan Vreeland I am a changed woman. This collection of stories revolving around the affect that art has on its creators and appreciators are each unique in their tone and viewpoint. I love the details that obviously come from careful research as well as brilliant imagination. I am on the hunt for more of her work!
Patty
It's nice to read short stories sometimes. These all had a central theme.....art but coming at it from many different angles. The author used famous artists as well as creative children as characters in stories from the late 1800's Europe to the present day California. Some stories more memorable than others but fun to pick up a story and finish it before I fell asleep.

Melissa
This was a really interesting book. It is divided into three parts: the first part is like snapshots from historical artists' lives, the second part is a folk tale-type of story, and the third part is a collection of short stories showing how art affects different people differently. I do not normally enjoy books of short stories, but this was a nice, easy read.
Odindaph
I would really give it 4.5 stars.
Kathy
This book was good, but i found it a bit confusing at the beginning (audio book only). It was hard to differentiate when one short story ended and the other began. In the written book, i'm sure it's obvious by use of space. I also think it helps to know a bit about these artists before you read this book.
Meg
I hate short stories...but well, this book spoke to me on the shelf, so I grabbed it. It turns out, I do like SOME short stories. These stories revolve around the art world....either an artist is in the story OR a painting. I enjoyed the short stories and found it a great way to disappear off the couch....
Judy
In the first half of the book, I found it interesting how the author took a small fact about an artist and spun a story about the people who may or may not have been in their life centering it on the isolated fact about the artist. In the second half, my favorite story was "In at least 500 words".
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Susan Vreeland is an internationally renowned best-selling author and four-time winner of the Theodor Geisel Award for Fiction, the San Diego Book Award’s highest honor. She is known for writing historical fiction on art-related themes, including Girl in Hyacinth Blue, The Passion of Artemisia, Luncheon of the Boating Party, and Clara and Mr. Tiffany. Her books have been translated into 26 languag ...more
More about Susan Vreeland...
Girl in Hyacinth Blue Clara and Mr. Tiffany The Passion of Artemisia Luncheon of the Boating Party The Forest Lover

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