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Luncheon of the Boating Party

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  6,915 ratings  ·  931 reviews
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 a
Hardcover, 434 pages
Published May 3rd 2007 by Viking Adult (first published 2007)
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Jeanette Odle I just finished reading this book as a book club choice. I wasn't familiar with Susan Vreeland. It was a joy to read. As an art major, I appreciated…moreI just finished reading this book as a book club choice. I wasn't familiar with Susan Vreeland. It was a joy to read. As an art major, I appreciated all the research that went in to develop each character so thoroughly and the sensualness of the actual painting. Each person sacrificed something and contributed to the painting in more ways than just posing for it. It was a joint effort to support Renoir in his master piece!

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3.68  · 
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 ·  6,915 ratings  ·  931 reviews

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If you have an interest in art or art history, and you like historical fiction, then you will enjoy this one. This is a story of Augueste Renior as he painted The Luncheon of the Boating Party, who the models were and how they come to be in the painting. How historically accurate these events are I don't know, but Vreeland weaves an interesting storyline that fits with the gaiety of the paintings subject. This is one of those paintings that makes you say, "I wish I had been there".
Connie G
Pierre August Renoir was struggling financially in 1880, reduced to painting portraits of upper class women but wanting to work on a more satisfying project. He decided to paint "Luncheon of the Boating Party", a large painting worthy of being hung in the prestigious Salon. Renoir gathered up his friends and acquaintances to pose on a series of Sunday afternoons on the terrace of a restaurant along the Seine. Renoir wanted to depict people enjoying life in a beautiful location. He felt committed ...more
Jill Nolan
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
I love historical fiction and I was really intrigued when I found this book. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The premise of a book set in bohemian Paris which delves into the lives and conversations of Renoir and the models for his famous painting was irresistable. While Vreeland's research is impressive and provides a lot of detail, it is done in a slow and awkward way. The book provided insight into Renoir's thought process and what it was like to be an impressionist painter. I also found h ...more
Jan 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hf, arts, france, bio, 2015-read, audible
This book is excellent. What exactly does that mean? I guess that puts it between very good and amazing. Why is it short of amazing? It is hard to feel an emotional connection to a group of about twenty characters. First you have to get to know all of them. The further you read into the story the more attached the reader feels for the numerous characters. There is not one character that is bland. Each has an interesting story to tell. Still there are just too many, and this being a book of histo ...more
Jul 25, 2007 rated it it was ok
Uncle! At pg. 162 of a 429 pg. book and have found little to no inspiration to continue. I don't remember thinking much of Vreeland's Girl in Hyacinth Blue either.
Suzanne Krueger
I really wanted to like this book. BUT it was over written, much too long, too much flowery description; trying to convey the thoughts and feelings of an artist came across to me as melodramatic and artificial.
I am an artist. I am a colorist...but enough already describing the mixing of every color.
I finished the book and endured some of the unnecessary subplots. Paris is my favorite city; I enjoyed the historical references. I learned what I wanted to know about the concept for the painting and
Erika Robuck
Aug 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
“What would they become? she wondered. What has he glimpsed in us to lay over that vast white land? Us. Nous. She said the word aloud, dropping off the s, a kind of lowing. The exhilaration she had felt yesterday surged again. She was part of something.” (113)

Luncheon of the Boating Party, Susan Vreeland

Susan Vreeland’s Luncheon of the Boating Party was published in 2007 and is 434 pages. I read it on Stephanie Cowell’s recommendation after finishing and loving her novel about Monet, Claude and
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
For our book club this month we were asked to pick a book by Susan Vreeland and read it. I picked Luncheon of the Boating Party because (1) it is based on a painting I love and (2) it takes place just outside of Paris. I didn't know much about Renoir before I read this book, but now I think I could write his biography.

Renoir sets out to challenge Zola's thought that the Impressionist painters were finished creatively when he decides to bring thirteen (oh, how he longs to find a fourteenth friend
Jun 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
I don't usually like reading novels portraying real people. It's hard for me to invest in the author's version of them - I keep wanting to exchange fictionalized versions for actual biographies/memoirs so I can come to my own understanding of who they were.

That said, I really enjoyed this novel once I got over the initial hump. It was so saturated with the sense of sunlight and joyful atmosphere of impressionist artwork. I felt myself tasting the meals along with the characters, feeling a breeze
Gael Owen
Aug 13, 2009 rated it did not like it
This book depicts Renoir's efforts to create one his most famous Impressionist paintings. It was our book club selection so I stuck with it to the end though I found almost any excuse I could to repeatedly put the book down and do other things . . . house cleaning, laundry, weeding, washing my hair . . .
It is over 400 pages long and should have been shortened to about 100. I found it difficult to care about any of the characters, except perhaps Alphonsine, and that was maringal. Much of the d
Rebecca Huston
One of my favourite books to come out of 2007. A fictional treatment of how Renoir painted his work, the Luncheon of the Boating Party, and the various people in it. Wonderful story. Happily recommended.

For the longer review, please go here:

Mar 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
 Each character is fully and sensitively drawn. I’ll never look at the painting the same way, again. Although it’s a work of historical fiction, this book is delightfully readable and thoroughly researched.
Love, love, loved it! Full confession: I love the Impressionists and Renoir in particular. Even when some consider him saccharine and sentimental, in my si[erficial view, he is wonderful.
This novel "painted" a delightful picture of the world of Paris and France in 1880s, the world of my other favorites Guy de Maupassant, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas. Camille Pissarro etc. France is in the process of recovering from the disaster of the Franco-Prussian war, but slowly flowers begin to bloom again, g
Fred Shaw
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an exceptional historical fiction, unlike anything I’ve read before. Susan Vreeland has artfully written the story of the creation of Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party painting, his rendition of “La Vie Moderne” The Modern Life. It is said to be Renoir’s greatest accomplishment as an Impressionist in the 19th century. Ms Vreeland describes the selection of the location for the painting, Renoir’s search for his models, how he wanted them to pose, sources for oils and canvas, and the ...more
Book Concierge
Audio book performed by Karen White

In the summer of 1880 Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted what was to become one of his most instantly recognizable masterpieces, depicting a gathering of friends enjoying an afternoon on a café terrace along the Seine near Paris. His fourteen models included, among others, a famous painter, an art collector, a celebrated actress, the café owner’s daughter, a war hero, an Italian journalist, and a laundress. This was shortly after the Franco-Prussian war, and so
Jul 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Girl With a Pearl Earring
It took me awhile to read this book, mainly because I was really wanting to read a more adventuresome than contemplative book, but that turned out for the best, because this was a book intended to be savored rather than quickly inhaled. Once I got into it, about 50 pages in, I really liked it.
It's about the creation of the painting on the front cover (and also shown in the movie Amelie). Who were the people? What was it like to pose for Renoir? What was Renoir like? Through the answer to those q
Feb 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Susan Vreeland is an American author of historical fiction who specialises in vivid novelisations of art and artists, and like Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Luncheon of the Boating Party is based around a particular painting. Ever since I read The Horse’s Mouth by Joyce Cary I’ve looked out for books that explore the mind of the artist, and I had also enjoyed Vreeland’s Passion of Artemesia - about the first woman admitted to the Accademia dell’ Arte in Florence – and The Forest Lover - about the groun ...more
Val Wilkerson
May 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-books-read
I loved this book, it was absolutely delicious!! Its about Pierre Augusto Renoir, and his painting
"Luncheon of the Boating Party". I held off until I finished the book before I googled this painting
so I could finally see it. The book was wonderful, it made me want to take painting classes, it introduced you to each person in the painting, it made you think about colors. I was blown away by how much I loved this book. Plus the story itself was captivating!
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Historical fiction. Very good read! The story is based on the Impressionist artist, Renoir. The book gets into life in Paris in the late 1800's, especially for the artists. The main story however, takes place during the months it took for Renoir to paint his largest canvas painting, which was the Luncheon of the Boating Party. As he selected his models, their lives, and the painting brought these 13 persons together every sunday until the completion of his work. The painting is said to be his ve ...more
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book during my lunch break at work and I really enjoyed it.

It is a work of fiction but once I started to read it, I felt as I was in Paris and part of Auguste Renior's group of friends who were lucky enough to be around him as painted his masterpiece; Luncheon of the Boating Party.

Susan Vreeland wrote so beautifully and is so descriptive not only of the people she is writing about, but also the scenery and everything going on in Paris at this time I honestly felt as if I was in Paris
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this fictionalized account of the painting of the Boating Party. While I've seen reproductions of this painting many times and once had the privilege of seeing the actual canvas, I never gave any thought to who the people pictured in it. It was enjoyable to find out who they were and to learn a bit about them. Also fascinating to get inside Renoir's head a bit. Vreeland clearly did a lot of research for this and made the characters and situations as true to life as possible, while still ...more
Feb 08, 2015 rated it liked it
I listened to this book on CD. Karen White parle un francais parfait. And, author, Susan Vreeland, made this novel come to life. 'Luncheon of the Boating Party' takes place on a café terrace along the Seine just outside of Paris. Pierre-Auguste Renoir ( 1841-1919)decides to do a painting using his friends. How many friends he uses is a very interesting number. This is a monumental effort and will take several Sunday afternoons to complete.

To understand the simmering passion, take note that the
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
I really tried to like this book but was very disappointed. I loved The Girl in Hyacinth Blue and Artemisia as both books created mood, atmosphere and I felt like the artists were believable and understood. Vreeland seemed to understand each artist and how they painted in the earlier books but Renoir comes off as a bit of a sap. When it came to describing his painting approach it seemed trite and almost pendactic in tone. As an artist, this grated me immensely. I honestly feel like she sold out ...more
Apr 10, 2009 rated it liked it
The lusty, leisurely, lovingly-told story of how Renoir came to paint the famous picture of 14 revelers at lunch by the Seine. The novel is fun for what it teaches you (or reminds you) about the Impressionist movement. And it's fun because of how deeply the author plunges you into Renoir's world. But at times the writing seems like a dramatized "History Comes Alive!" section in a high school textbook.

If you go for this book, make sure to get one of the editions where a picture of the whole pain
Oct 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
It's a bit slow going but I love the theme and who could not love the setting; Paris. Will let you know what I think of the book when I reach the end. It is fun to read about the characters(artists) so far. But a bit too much detail of non important things.I already finished the book and thought it quite worthwhile to read;especially to learn more concerning the now famous artists of that era. I am not so sure I liked the ending but won't reveal why. nina
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastique. I love this historical account of the elaboration of "the luncheon of the Boating Party." Fourteen friends and acquaintances made it on to the canvas and we learn who they are and how a masterpiece was made. Excellent novel for the lovers of impressionism, art and anything French.
Jun 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
I listened to this book on audio cd and loved it. It's a great story about how Auguste Renoir came to create the famous "boating party" painting.
Summer Bishop
Feb 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
Painfully slow! Couldn't even finish.
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had the pleasure of reading this book during the month I was in Angers, France with my students at Waring School (Beverly MA) on an exchange. Lou McClelland, a dear friend, had suggested I might enjoy this novel which tells the story of Pierre Auguste Renoir's creation of this paining that celebrates "la vie moderne" of France in 1881, in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War. The novel can be called a study of a painting, and it does that very well, but it's also a snapshot of France at th ...more
I picked up this book because of the setting in France. I'm not a great art lover or connoisseur of art, but I was intrigued about a story being build around the making of a painting. It took me several chapters to really get into it, but when I did, I sure did enjoy it. I kept looking at the cover and looking up his other works of art as I read the story. Vreeland really makes you see the setting and the characters. Reading this book makes me look forward to going to an art museum.
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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
“I've come to think that if doing something simple or silly can give a person pleasure, then, by God, do it” 4 likes
“He had a thought that amused him. "Figures, still life, landscape, AND an animal! Zola, eat your hat!" he bellowed.” 3 likes
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