1. Title, author, and date of book?
Luncheon of the Boating Party, by Susan Vreeland, 2007
2. Genre: fiction
3. What made you want to read it? Did it live up to your expectations?
Having read other books by Vreeland, I put this one on my TBR list about a year before it was published. I had been looking forward with great anticipation to its publication, but I had such a hard time getting into this book that I gave it up before mid-point. I have gotten deeply involved in Vreeland's other books, like Girl in Hyacinth Blue about a supposed Vermeer painting and The Passion of Artemisia about the life of painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1652), arguably the first major female figure in the history of art. Luncheon of the Boating Party, however, was a great disappointment to me.
Because I didn't finish the book, I was left wondering who's who in the painting. Thanks to Dewey for sharing this link: "If you’re planning to read this book and you aren’t well-informed about Impressionism, here is a great site that will provide you a wealth of information about this painting in particular and Impressionism in general." Thirteen people are identified or guessed at in the notes at this link:
There is still one mystery left for me, however: that 14th person in the painting, in profile against the black coat of the man in the top hat (who is said to be Charles Ephrussi, in the notes Dewey shared). The unnamed man (between the numbers 8 and 10 in this chart) is at the table with the actress Ellen Andrée and is looking at her. Only the side of his face is visible because he is nearly hidden by the shoulder of Italian journalist Maggiolo, who is hatless, wearing a light-colored jacket, standing on the right side of the painting, and leaning over the table closest to the viewer. Did anyone find out from reading the book (or anywhere else) who this unnamed man is?
4. How would you rate the book?
I may someday give this book another chance, but for now:
Rated 2, poor, one I abandoned
UPDATE: If you want to read more, here's a reader's guide with discussion questions about the book.