Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland








At church this fall, Whitney and I are hosting what we are calling a Boxed Lunch Book Club.  I am super excited about it, but I am a little nervous.  Because lots of other people are super excited about it too, so I have sold like 20 books.  I am used to a book club discussion being 5 or 6 people, so I have some research to do.  Taido says I had better get my lecture notes ready, which is not even funny.  Actually the idea of my standing up in front of more than three people to talk is a little bit funny, in a gut-wrenching kind of way.  But maybe after everyone reads the book I chose, they won’t want to come.  Because maybe not everyone loves Susan Vreeland as I do.  Let me tell you how much.  For the church book club, we are reading Girl in Hyacinth Blue, which is Susan Vreeland’s first and MOST wonderful book.  And for my regular book club, which it also happens to be my month to host, we are reading her new book, Luncheon of the Boating Party.  If you are in the area consider yourself most cordially invited to come to Fellowship North on October 9th at 12pm for lunch and book discussion of Girl in Hyacinth Blue.  You can bring your own lunch or order out with us for $10.

I was first introduced to Susan Vreeland years ago by a darling gal with whom I sold books in my Chicago days, which were also Taido’s seminary days, and our newlywed days.  I gobbled up Girl in Hyacinth Blue.  Vreeland writes historical fiction about real artists and art.  This first book is about a fictional Vermeer painting that travels from family to family, leaving its mark on a large cast of characters.

Luncheon of the Boating Party is about the evolution of the painting of the same name.  I am still reading it and enjoying the painting coming to life as Auguste Renoir manages to handle having more than a dozen models assemble every Sunday afternoon while he paints.  I will never see the painting again without imagining all the different relationships of the models, to each other and to Renoir.  He only painted from real life instead of from memory, so his canvases full of people laughing and eating and living are all the more amazing to me.

Book club or no, both books are delightful.  I also loved The Passion of Artemisia, whose story haunted me while I searched for her paintings in Florence, but was less wowed by The Forest Lover.  I blame my state of mind at the time though, because I am sure it was genius.  It must have been me that wasn’t.

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