Ms. Vreeland lived much of her life in San Diego, where she taught high school for many years, retiring in 2002. She graduated from San Diego State University.
Her first book, Ã¢Â€ÂœWhat Love Sees,Ã¢Â€Â came out in 1988, but it was Ã¢Â€ÂœGirl in Hyacinth BlueÃ¢Â€Â that brought her wide attention.
Ã¢Â€ÂœIntelligent, searching and unusual, the novel is filled with luminous moments,Ã¢Â€Â Katy Emck said in reviewing the book in The New York Times. In 2003, the book was turned into a made-for-television movie, Ã¢Â€ÂœBrush With Fate,Ã¢Â€Â starring Ellen Burstyn and Glenn Close.
Ms. VreelandÃ¢Â€Â™s husband, Joseph Gray, whom she married in 1988, recalled how a particular scene in that book came about. He had already gone to bed one night when Ms. Vreeland, working late, nudged him with a question.
Ã¢Â€ÂœShe asked me, Ã¢Â€Â˜How can I get a baby and a painting into a small rowboat during a flood?Ã¢Â€Â™ Ã¢Â€Â Mr. Gray said by email. Ã¢Â€ÂœMy reply was that was crazy, to endanger a baby in a small, unsteady boat, as well as a painting, and for what purpose? Readers would not believe it Ã¢Â€Â” it would never fly. Her reply: Ã¢Â€Â˜It does not have to fly, just float.Ã¢Â€Â™ She went on to craft one of more powerful scenes in the novel.Ã¢Â€Â
Ms. Vreeland, who is also survived by a sister, Nancy, continued to write novels grounded in art, among them Ã¢Â€ÂœThe Passion of ArtemisiaÃ¢Â€Â (2002), which drew on the life of Artemisia Gentileschi; Ã¢Â€ÂœLuncheon of the Boating PartyÃ¢Â€Â (2007), inspired by the Renoir painting; and Ã¢Â€ÂœLisetteÃ¢Â€Â™s ListÃ¢Â€Â (2014), about a young woman with a love of artworks.
Ms. Vreeland once explained her own love of art and handicrafts this way:
Ã¢Â€ÂœThat a thing made by hand, the work and thought of a single craftsman, can endure much longer than its maker, through centuries in fact, can survive natural catastrophe, neglect, and even mistreatment, has always filled me with wonder.Ã¢Â€Â
Susan McBeth, who runs Adventures by the Book, a company in San Diego that arranges tours led by authors, said she was always struck by Ms. VreelandÃ¢Â€Â™s energy and enthusiasm. On a tour to France, the stops included the Rodin Museum in Paris, and Ms. Vreeland came up with the idea of having each couple on the tour strike the pose of the sculpture Ã¢Â€ÂœThe Kiss.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€ÂœShe pulled aside each husband on the tour, and then helped place the respective spouse on his lap, and then posed their heads and hands,Ã¢Â€Â Ms. McBeth said by email. Ã¢Â€ÂœEach couple on the tour posed that way, and pretty soon, a long line of tourists (whom we had never met) started lining up.Ã¢Â€Â
They included a newlywed couple from Brazil.
Ã¢Â€ÂœThey looked into each otherÃ¢Â€Â™s eyes like only newlyweds can do,Ã¢Â€Â Ms. McBeth said, Ã¢Â€Âœand then I snapped a photo just as Suzi sat next to the bride with her head on the brideÃ¢Â€Â™s shoulder, holding up a photo of Ã¢Â€Â˜The Kiss.Ã¢Â€Â™ Ã¢Â€Â