Allyssa Lee
May 09, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Luncheon of the Boating Party

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Susan Vreeland
publisher
Viking
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B

Susan Vreeland (Girl in Hyacinth Blue) again dabbles in art with Luncheon of the Boating Party, imagining the story behind Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s famous ode to la vie moderne, Le Déjeuner des canotiers. In the summer of 1880, Renoir, struggling with the then-frowned-upon label of Impressionist and in need of a hit painting, scrapes together funds and brings a diverse group of models — including fellow artists, patrons, and lovers both old and new — to the banks of the Seine to coax this heady, sun-kissed work to life. While the novel isn’t as vibrant as the painting itself, it’s a light and breezy glimpse at how the artist captured an enchanting, fleeting instant. B

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