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Girl with a Pearl Earring

by
3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  435,400 Ratings  ·  7,235 Reviews
In seventeenth-century Delft, a prosperous town in Holland, life was orderly. Rich and poor, Catholic and Protestant, master and servant, all know their place.

So when Griet becomes a maid in the household of the painter Johannes Vermeer, she thinks she knows her role: housework, laundry, and the care of his six children. She even feels able to handle his shrewd mother-in-l
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Hardcover, UK, 248 pages
Published August 16th 1999 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1999)
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Ann Otto I read the book and saw the film. Both were good, but the film had extraordinary sets and got the lighting and feel of the time period beautifully.…moreI read the book and saw the film. Both were good, but the film had extraordinary sets and got the lighting and feel of the time period beautifully. Definitely a worth see. (less)
Leiden Sergeyevna My copy does not have. But maybe you can search the internet for discussion questions.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Daniel
Jul 22, 2007 Daniel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another one of my wife's recommendations (I read a lot of books that way), I picked it up from the bookshelf the night we came back from seeing the film with Scarlett Johansonn and Colin Firth. I loved the movie--it was just so incredibly sumptuous--and was curious to know the story in the novel, which I knew from experience, and from my wife's continuous comments, would be different, more detailed. I was right.

Chevalier has won a place in my heart and bookshelf. Her novels are well-crafted, sim
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Kate
Aug 04, 2007 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I know almost nothing about art, but even I can tell that Girl With a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer is a brilliant painting; 'captivating' is probably the best word to describe it. One presumes that Chevalier agrees with me, and this is what lead her to write a novel about the painting, its subject and its creator. So, is the novel as captivating as the piece that inspired it?

The short answer would be 'no'.

Now for the longer answer...

Chevalier is probably one of the best-known historical nov
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Jeffrey Keeten
Feb 10, 2015 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-dutch, artists
“I heard voices outside our front door - a woman's, bright as polished brass, and a man's, low and dark like the wood of the table I was working on. They were the kind of voices we heard rarely in our house. I could hear rich carpets in their voices, books and pearls and fur.”

 photo Girl20With20the20Pearl20Earring_zpsmfguurj3.jpg
The Girl With the Pearl Earring

When the Vermeers came to visit Griet’s home she had no idea they were there for her. Her parents had decided, given their near destitution, to find Griet a position as a maid with a wealthy
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Jason Koivu
I CAN'T SHOUT "MEH!" LOUD ENOUGH!!!

The popular fame obtained by this book and its subsequent movie version starring Scarlett Johansson...

*two hours later*

(Sorry, I was daydreaming)...had me expecting a tumultuous romance, a grab-ya and hold-ya reading experience. But this...I don't know what this was, but it wasn't exciting in the least.

Girl With a Pearl Earring is about a maid, who becomes a model, who gets her picture painted and attracts the notice of a few men. The painter is famous, so tha
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Madeleine
So the parts when Vermeer was actually being a painter were interesting. Seeing as I slogged through this on account of a recommendation that arose from an art-class lecture on Vermeer, I was hoping that the art stuff would at least deliver.

But it's not a good sign when a book's most compelling moments revolve around two people grinding pigments. And, no: "Grinding pigments" is not a euphemism for artist-bangin'. It is, quite literally, referring to the detailed descriptions of how paint was ma
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Diane
This was a pleasant diversion. This novel about a pretty maid who appeared in one of Vermeer's paintings is easy to slip into, didn't ask much of me, and kept me entertained for a few days.

Is it great literature? No. Was it turned into a decent movie? Yes. Would I recommend the book? Depends. The plot skips along well enough, and I enjoyed how the author invented stories for some of Vermeer's famous paintings. My copy was a deluxe edition that included pictures of his artwork, which I appreciat
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Kelly
Jan 18, 2014 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: art history geeks
I wrote a paper on artistic expression using Girl with a Pearl Earring as a source, since it is a painting, a movie, and a book. It provided me fascinating fodder, a really good read, and a good grade on my paper. This is a wonderful study in repression and tiny details. There are some beautiful passages. I absolutely love the study done of the character of Vermeer. At one point, a character tells Griet (the imagined Girl with a Pearl Earring) to be careful, since Vermeer does not see her, but r ...more
Vane J.
Have you ever seen the painting Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer? No? Then, have a look at it:



Isn't it beautiful?

I hadn't seen it until a few months ago, in a class I was taking at the university called “film appreciation”. My professor wanted to show us the movie that goes by the name of this painting because he wanted to illustrate some concepts present in the movie and many other things. Well, at the end of the movie, in the credits (yes, I read the credits; besides, the music wa
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Helen 2.0
Girl With a Pearl Earring tells a short story using a lot of words. Even though the novel spans more than a decade, not too much of note happens besides Vermeer's painting. The book is more like an historical account of an ordinary life with occasional excitement sprinkled in.
I got a little bored at times. I thought Tracy Chevalier spent too much time describing commonplace objects and scenes (washing clothes, dusting, shopping) and not enough time giving insight on Griet's character and the hou
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Anna
Jan 11, 2008 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book features one of my favorite book heroines of all time. Griet is competent, intelligent and observant. She possesses the laudable ability to maneuver 17th century Delft in a shrewd and practical manner while still retaining her love of art; finding beauty in even mundane things.

Griet has a first-rate mind, concealed in the body of - essentially - a peasant. This poor maid is the only person who truly understands Vermeer's work. The relationship she develops with the painter is satisfyin
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Natasha!
Apr 10, 2008 Natasha! rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've been hearing good things about this book for years. WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM, everyone I know?? I found the prose artificially concise (as if she had purposely limited her vocabulary by a factor of ten, or as if the narrator was Dutch but just learning English), the characters completely flat and unbelievable, and the rise in drama both ill-explained and uninteresting. I did not like or feel compassionate toward a single character, I didn't feel any catharsis about ANYTHING, and I understood na ...more
Ij
Jan 08, 2014 Ij rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Girl with a Pearl Earring

Tracy Chevalier

Plume, 2001

The “Girl with a Pearl Earring” is a painting done by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, around 1665. Not much is known about Vermeer which gives Chevalier creative license to develop what I believe is an interesting story. The painting is currently on exhibition in New York, at the Frick Collection. The exhibition is scheduled to be there until January 19, 2014.

The story told in first person by Griet the protagonist starts in Delft (South Holland)
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Kandice
May 22, 2016 Kandice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is gorgeously written. I love that Chevalier makes up all these lives to give a back story to just this one painting. Well, that's not true. We actually see the painting of three or four of Vermeer's 35 through Griet's eyes. I know that I had to constantly pull up images of his paintings as I read to actually see what Griet was describing. I must also say that I have never been much of a Vermeer fan, but having read about Vermeer through Griet's eyes, I see his paintings as much more c ...more
Pink
I loved this. I don't say that often enough about a book. I was impressed with the writing, completely invested in the story and pleased with the ending. It's not easy to tick all those boxes, especially in a relatively short story. What more can I say.
Marian
Jan 30, 2009 Marian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. The story is subtle making it the perfect example that less is more in a story.

Some of my thoughts as I read:
1. The society of the time classified everyone as a "have" or a "have not". For a girl who was in between it was a matter of time before she was forced to one side or the other. She never fit in either world.
2. Clearly this girl had a raw, undeveloped talent for art. Had she lived in a different century would she have been the artist instead of the muse? Her role w
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Luís Blue Yorkie
This work deserves the film and all the success he made during the launch. I was delighted, but wished for more scenes of physical approach.

Also, I have a special passion for Vermeer and see it as a human being with flaws and passions was simply sensational.
Carol
Oct 25, 2012 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chevalier
Love this story, love Vermeer's work. Over 2 years a quiet and obedient maid named Griet goes to live as a servant for Johannes Vermeer and his family. It is hard for Griet not to like this good and obedient protagonist, for she struggles with universal yearnings such as love and an escape from poverty. Her life is a fairly solitary one as she finds herself growing apart from her family while living as an outsider in another's home. The Vermeer family, with the exception of the painter himself, ...more
Crystal Starr Light
Gorgeous painting, deeper appreciation of art; mediocre, annoying book

This is a book that fictionalizes what might have been behind the famous Vermeer painting, "Girl with a Pearl Earring". Griet's family is destitute, and now she must work as a maid in the Vermeer household, cleaning up the famous painter's workstation. Slowly, she grows more interested in her master, and her master in her.

I am not what you would call an artsy person. I make an effort to decorate my home nicely, I can pick out
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Lavinia
Aug 29, 2014 Lavinia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, in-en, 2012
I don't know if it has to do with my vacation days or the fact that I really, but really enjoyed reading this novel, but is was almost impossible to put it down, even though I'm not a big fan of historical fiction and I've watched the film 2 times already. Speaking of it, I'm sure there were many details left out, it's hard now to tell which, but it was definitely an advantage to put a face on the characters.

My interest in art over the years was quite inconsistent and I started by liking the mod
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Nikoleta
Jan 02, 2016 Nikoleta rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, historical
Αυτό το βιβλίο είναι κατάλληλο για όσους αγαπάνε τα ιστορικά μυθιστορήματα, τις πολλές πολλές περιγραφές στην αφήγηση και την ζωγραφική, ειδικά την τέχνη του Βερμέερ. Γραμμένο σε πρώτο πρόσωπο από την οπτική γωνία της ηρωίδας, που όπως είπα γίνεται με μια περιγραφική αφήγηση. Μιλά πολύ για τα τοπία, τους ανθρώπους, τη ζωή στην προτεσταντική Ολλανδία του 17ου αιώνα και φυσικά για τη ζωγραφική. Αυτά είναι τα καλά. Αυτό που δεν με κέρδισε είναι οι ήρωες, είναι πολύ ήπιοι και αθόρυβοι σαν χαρακτήρες ...more
Chrissie
Jan 16, 2010 Chrissie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finished: Excellent writing. Each character was portrayed with depth. I kept thinking that I should quote this line or that, but this was impossible without giving spoilers. You must read the book to get into each of these characters and to submerge yourself into their lives. The book is not only about thes principal characters but also about what motivates an artist to create. Who is an artist? Isn't it someone who simply cannot stop himself from painting, or playing music, or sculpting shapes, ...more
Misha
Most of us know the painting, if not by name, but by sight at least. You might have even watched the movie starring Colin Firth (!!) and Scarlett Johanssen. Many of us might have heard of Johannes Vermeer, the artist behind this painting. But have you ever wondered, who is the girl in the painting? What is her story? What lies behind that indecipherable expression?

Ever since I read The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant, I have loved books which involve art and artists. I don't claim to have much kn
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Zahra
Jun 04, 2016 Zahra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
دوست نداشتم انقدر زود تموم شه :(((
از اونجایی که عکس این نقاشی روی میزم هست و هرروز میدیمش،خوندن این کتاب و ماجراش خیلی برام جالب بود.و زیبایی قلم نویسنده و توصیف جزییات واقعا لذت بخشش کرده بود
Lynxie
Are you suffering from insomnia?

Yes?

Well, try picking up this book. It should put you to sleep in 10minutes flat.

The story about the most boring people in the world, told by a girl who has the most boring thoughts and ideas in history. Even while getting groped in the alley, she thinks of the clouds! I mean really!!!

At times, I liked some of the description used, but at others it was so wrong I wanted to poke my eyes out and burn the book.

Characterisation does not seem to be something Tracy is
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Duane
My favorite reading genre's are historical fiction, art and art history, and romance; well, this book has all of these elements which made it a treat for me. I have read most of Tracy Chevalier's work so I appreciate her ability to craft a good story. After his death Vermeer and even his paintings fell into obscurity for two centuries, so Chevalier had a free hand to paint the fictional picture of the artist and the story surrounding the painting, The Girl With a Pearl Earring. She did so beauti ...more
Jon
A real gem of a book, short and easy but so rich and colourful. While not a great deal happens throughout the book there is a constant feeling of tension building and the language is beautiful. The Reader is transported perfectly to 17th Century Delft. The background to the paintings sends you running off to google for a closer look even if youre not an art fiend.
Giorgia Penzo
Nov 23, 2015 Giorgia Penzo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Delicato come una pennellata, intenso come il blu oltremare. L’arte e la narrazione di mescolano come olio e pigmenti, rivelando mille sfumature: i quadri di Vermeer prendono vita, si rivelano, diventano i personaggi di contorno alla protagonista.
Visto le poche informazioni che abbiamo sulla vita del pittore, questa è una bellissima leggenda a cui è un piacere credere.

La storia della nascita del quadro più famoso di Vermeer ci viene raccontata dalla sua modella.
Siamo nel 1664. Griet è una giovan
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Sharon Robards
I hate the star system, and it’s books like this that make it so. I was torn between giving 4 (for a slight irritation with it) and 6 (for its brilliance). Fortunately, half way between the two is five. I loved it.

Being someone who has dabbled in painting and constantly seeks to understand emotions, this book does well to provide a little insight into the process of painting and the complexities of life, especially the layering of paint and complexities with capturing light and colour of subject
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Book Concierge
An extraordinarily well-written book - the fictionalized story behind the famous Vermeer painting. Luminously written. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but these thousand words paint a magnificent picture.

I went to a book-signing in January 2001 and Chevalier said she wanted the reader to fly through the book with breathless anticipation. That's certainly how I read it the first time. But then I read it again - slowly - to savor each perfect word. I prefer the slow read, and I told Chev
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Laura Franchin
Mar 09, 2016 Laura Franchin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cosa dire di questo romanzo? Beh, che secondo me è stupendo, perché Tracy Chevalier è riuscita a prendere uno dei dipinti più famosi di Johannes Vermeer e a trasformarlo in un best-seller, in grado di catturare il lettore pagina dopo pagina.
Ogni rapporto, anche se minore, è ben costruito e perfettamente approfondito: quello travagliato del pittore con la moglie, quello tra la ragazza e un giovane macellaio, l'ambiente familiare e l'affetto che Griet prova per i suoi fratelli (soprattutto per la
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  • The Passion of Artemisia
  • Music & Silence
  • Stones from the River
  • The Birth of Venus
  • Chopsticks
  • Artemisia
  • I, Mona Lisa
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  • Portrait of an Unknown Woman
  • The Painted Kiss
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  • With Violets
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1973
Born:
19 October 1962 in Washington, DC. Youngest of 3 children. Father was a photographer for The Washington Post.

Childhood:
Nerdy. Spent a lot of time lying on my bed reading. Favorite authors back then: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madeleine L’Engle, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Joan Aiken, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander. Book I would have taken to a desert island: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.

Educa
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“He saw things in a way that others did not, so that a city I had lived in all my life seemed a different place, so that a woman became beautiful with the light on her face.” 161 likes
“You're so calm and quiet, you never say. But there are things inside you. I see them sometimes, hiding in your eyes.” 101 likes
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