Introducing Susan Vreeland's

Luncheon of the Boating Party
New York Times Best Seller

Hardback Cover Susan Vreelands novel: Luncheon of the Boating Party

Painting on the Book Cover is by: Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Déjeuner des Canotiers (Luncheon of the Boating Party), 1880-81, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

Instantly recognizable, beloved the world over, Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party serves as an icon of an age, a place, an art movement at its apogee, and an ideal of human desire and sociability.

As impressionistically dazzling and humane as the Renoir painting that inspires it, Luncheon of the Boating Party is itself a true work of art that blends the manifest joys and the impossible longings of life into a single coherent vision. Susan Vreeland has for some time been one of our finest writers, and this is her best book yet.

   --Robert Olen Butler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

Paris, Summer, 1880

Émile Zola: "The Impressionists are inferior to what they undertake. The man of genius has not yet arisen."

Pierre-Auguste Renoir: "I'm going to blow the whole stuffy Salon apart with a painting Zola won't dare deny is genius!"

The pressure is on. Renoir has only two months before the good light is gone and he must relinquish the terrace setting for the grand regattas. What obstacles will he face? What turnabouts will occur? What life changes?

An actress, a mime, a journalist, an adventurer, a singer-flower seller, an art collector, a poet, a boatman, a baron, a yachtsman-painter, and more.


What's going on in their lives as they pose?
What interactions are unleashed?
How do the threads of their lives weave the canvas?

What troubles Renoir while he works?

  • The pull of divergent artistic desires?
  • The conflicts of la vie moderne?
  • The crisis in the Impressionist circle?
  • The anguished pleasures of love?

The Book
The Models
The Background
Paintings & Passages
Discussion Questions
Renoir Quotes
Teacher's Guide
Renoir in Paris
On the Seine