In Life Studies, Susan Vreeland has written a deeply moving, richly textured collection of stories that explore art through the eyes of ordinary people. Rather than focusing directly on great Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists like Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, and Modigliani, Vreeland shifts her lens to those on the periphery, their lovers, servants, children, and neighbors, showing their personal stories as they play out against the artists' lives. Counterbalancing these historic stories are an equal number of contemporary tales in which her characters, a teacher, a construction worker, and an orphan, encounter art in meaningful, sometimes surprising ways. When a disillusioned banker sees his daughter through the eyes of Renoir, his senses and zest for life are awakened. Morisot's wet nurse sacrifices her own child so another mother can paint. By modeling nude, a wife discovers her deeper, more compassionate self. In one enlightening summer, a young girl encounters Picasso and death. Together, the stories in Life Studies are a fascinating exploration of human frailty and resilience. These tales marvel at the lasting strength and meaning of art in our lives, revealing art's healing effect on the soul. Crafted with the skill of a master painter, Life Studies is a dazzling addition to Vreeland's outstanding body of work.
©2004 Susan Vreeland; (P)2004 Penguin Audio and Books on Tape, Inc.