Life Studies by Susan Vreeland

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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.


About Susan Vreeland

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Susan Vreeland’s short fiction has appeared in such journals as the Missouri Review, New England Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Ploughshares.
Published December 16, 2004 by Viking Adult. 304 pages
Genres: History, Arts & Photography, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Moving into the present (and the entirely fictional), Vreeland demonstrates how art liberates in such tales as “Respond,” which depicts a neglected wife coming alive when she models nude for a sculpture class, and “Gifts,” which chronicles the transformation of a prison visit by a teenager’s draw...

| Read Full Review of Life Studies: Stories

Publishers Weekly

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The first handful of stories revolve around the French Impressionists, but though Renoir, Manet and the like appear, the stories focus on their mistresses, daughters, neighbors and nannies.

Jan 03 2005 | Read Full Review of Life Studies: Stories

Entertainment Weekly

The first half of Susan Vreeland's collection (titled ''Then'') consists of nine stories about noted Impressionist and Postimpressionist painters from the perspective of the ordinary people around them.

Dec 20 2004 | Read Full Review of Life Studies: Stories

Bookmarks Magazine

In this short story collection, Vreeland casts a sensitive eye towards artists and the people around them.

Jan 19 2008 | Read Full Review of Life Studies: Stories

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