Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Girl in Hyacinth Blue” as Want to Read:
Girl in Hyacinth Blue
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Girl in Hyacinth Blue

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  31,669 Ratings  ·  1,560 Reviews
A professor invites a colleague from the art department to his home to view a painting he has kept secret for decades in Susan Vreeland's powerful historical novel, Girl in Hyacinth Blue. The professor swears it's a Vermeer -- but why exactly has he kept it hidden so long? The reasons unfold in a gripping sequence of stories that trace ownership of the work back to Amsterd ...more
Paperback, 242 pages
Published October 1st 2000 by Penguin Books (first published 1999)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jeffrey Keeten
Feb 09, 2015 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-dutch
”She thought of all the people in all the paintings she had seen that day, not just Father’s, in all the paintings of the world, in fact. Their eyes, the particular turn of a head, their loneliness or suffering or grief was borrowed by an artist to be seen by other people throughout the years who would never see them face to face. People who would be that close to her, she thought, a matter of a few arms’ lengths, looking, looking, and they would never know her.”

 photo Vermeer_zps4fed97f2.jpg
Johannes Vermeer self-portrait c
Aug 05, 2007 Lisa rated it really liked it
Girl in Hyacinth Blue tells the story of a painting by the Dutch painter Vermeer, as it passes from one owner to another. Interestingly, the story is told in reverse chronological order, beginning with the math teacher who, at present time, hides the painting in his home, to the girl in the painting and her wishes to become an artist herself. I thought the book kept getting better and better as it travels back in history to reveal the effects the painting had on each owner. They all find some co ...more
Jun 24, 2012 Hayes rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Brazilliant Laura is next
I liked this gentle story very much. We follow an imaginary painting back in time. We first see it hanging on the wall in a Math teacher’s house. The teacher is enigmatic and strange, and his story reveals the shady nature of the "acquisition" of this painting by his father in Amsterdam. And we don’t know: is it, or is it not by the Master Jan Vermeer?

We are taken slowly back in time, until we arrive at the moment that the painting was created, first in the mind of the artist and then on canvas
Aug 17, 2012 Carol rated it it was amazing
Shelves: vermeer
Great read! Vreeland writes several short stories of a lost Vermeer painting and the people whose lives it touched. The stories are told from the present to long ago, back in time. This lost painting is a portrait of a young woman looking out a window, lost in thought, brilliantly clothed in hyacinth blues. The stories contain exquisite visual descriptions of his artwork and the everyday lives of ordinary women. I loved how Vreeland described color and how his paintings contained the "dust of cr ...more
Jul 26, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Chrissie, Jeannette is next
Just arrived from Italy, kindly sent by Hayes, through BM.

This book is a collection of 8 short stories describing the story of Vermeer, the famous 17th century Dutch painter. A splendid and delightful book.

1. Love enough
2. Night different from all other nights
3. Adagia
4. Hyacinth blues

Girl in Hyacinth Blue

5. Morningshine --
6. From the personal papers of Adriaan Kuypers --
7. Still life --

The Little Street

The View of Delft

Girl Reading a Letter by an open window

The Milkmaid

Christ in the House of
Jan 09, 2008 Rachael rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I've owned it for seven or eight years now, and I reread it every six months or so. It's a beautifully written series of brief chapter-sized vignettes recounting the history of a Vermeer painting, as told (in reverse chronological order) by all the people who have possessed the painting. The final stor(ies) are told by the painting's model, Vermeer's daughter. Each chapter also deals with the decision of each character to give up the painting for various reasons.

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I like the way this author writes. This is one of those books where an object is the main character, rather than a person. In this case, the object is a (fictional) Vermeer painting of a girl sitting and looking out the window with her sewing in her lap.
There are eight interconnected stories that follow the painting back through history to its various owners and how they came to own or sell the painting. Eventually it works back to Vermeer's creation of the painting.
My only complaint is that I
Jul 15, 2009 Sun rated it liked it
This is one of the better novels inspired by the paintings of Vermeer. I say that because I've recently read 4 of them:

Tracey Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring was undoubtedly the best of them, with a solid plotline, populated by recognisable characters and was sophisticated enough to involve thematic imagery.

This is followed by Susan Vreeland's Girl in Hyacinth Blue. The writing is good in this but the book is not so much a novel but a series of short stories that are linked by one Vermeer
Adriane Devries
Jul 28, 2011 Adriane Devries rated it really liked it
The book we read last month for book club was The Girl in Hyacinth Blue, by Susan Vreeland. It was a well-written, thought provoking and inspiring book, but to tell you the truth, I probably would not have finished it if it weren’t for the fact that I was in a book club that keeps me accountable. It’s the perfect example of why I’m in this book club in the first place: to keep me reading things that challenge me a bit, rather than always the easy, thrilling Dan Brown or JK Rowling types.

I liked
Book Concierge
A previously "undiscovered" Vermeer is revealed and the author traces its ownership back in time to its origination. Each owner (or custodian) has a slightly different reason for wanting to keep the painting, and different reasons for letting it go. Each time it changes hands, the owner is pained to part with it. And still, for everyone it represents longing and wishes unfulfilled.

Apr 10, 2015 Sara rated it liked it
Shelves: undecided
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susan Vreeland
Oct 14, 2013 Susan Vreeland added it  ·  (Review from the author)
This entry will be out of the ordinary. I wrote GIRL IN HYACINTH BLUE,and somehow it appeared in the wrong place on Goodreads. I can't seem to remove it, so I might as well supply a review.

December 19, 1999
Picture This: A novel of a haunting painting and its effect on a succession of owners over three centuries.
Girl in Hyacinth Blue, by Susan Vreeland
by Katy Emck
Susan Vreeland's second novel, "Girl in Hyacinth Blue," may be a book about a painting, but it is never content with sur
Nov 03, 2013 Debbie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm really not one for collections of short stories. I'm admittedly voracious in all things and that does not exclude my reading choices. I always feel short stories leave me still hungry for more. I'm frequently fond of saying, "I don't want a taste. That's just a tease. I want the whole thing." However, very rarely a book of short stories comes along which I find appropriate and satisfying. This is the case with Girl In Hyacinth Blue.

I've not read any of Susan Vreeland's books previously but h
Feb 13, 2016 Sheri rated it liked it
I was not impressed. This is simply a collection of short stories that are all sort of connected by this painting. Occasionally the stories are linked (the last guy is guilty over his Nazi father's theft of the painting from a Jewish family and the 2nd owner gets it along with a baby whose origins are explained in the next story), but more often than not the current story protagonist simply got the painting at an auction. The idea is cute (how things travel down through time without their histor ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jul 25, 2013 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Suzanne
I recently read Girl with a Pearl Earring because I'm going to go see it at the High Museum in Atlanta, and another GoodReads friend turned me on to this book. Most of the chapters of this book were previously published individually, all telling bits of a story of another Vermeer painting. I loved how there was so much mystery to the painting, so many stories surrounding it, even if they were fiction, still an enjoyable read. Her descriptions of the landscape are also very vivid.

Little bits I ma
May 11, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Wow, I've forgotten about this book which is surprising, because just remembering the name makes me want to go and read it again. Susan Vreeland tells a story about the possibility of there being a 36th Vermeer painting, but the best part about this book is the order it's written in. She starts in the present day and goes in reverse chronological order. Also, since the main character changes in each chapter so does her point of view. Most is written in third person but she throws in a few chapte ...more
Jan 17, 2016 Lyubov rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Приятно четиво, с фокус върху измислена картина на Вермеер, която е център на 8 отделни разказа. Всеки се развива в различно време и на различно място.

Чете се бързо и леко, но натрапчивото изписване на името на художника с едно "е", тотално ме издразни и ми развали част от удоволствието от книгата.
Elena T.
Una delle più continuative vittorie ai Theodore Geisel Awards, l'appassionata e meticolosa Susan Vreeland con "La ragazza in blu" (Girl in hyacinth blue) consegna l'ennesimo, sontuoso, inno all'arte nel piatto avido dei suoi lettori.

Un romanzo a matrioska, una storia nella storia, per collegarsi alle vicende inerenti il possedimento dell'omonimo dipinto del 1600 del pittore olandese Vermeer; uno sguardo a ritroso nel tempo dei proprietari che si sono susseguiti. Eccoci nel presente, un riservato
Oct 04, 2014 Tatiana rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This historical fiction novel traces the ownership of a fictitious Vermeer painting, which lends the title to the book. Each chapter takes the reader further back in time, showing the relationship the painting has had with its previous owners. The author had previously written certain chapters are short stories, then filling in the rest of the chapters to create the overall arc of the novel.

I read this book on the recommendation of a family member as I love art history. Typically, I don't read
Melissa Etheridge
May 26, 2012 Melissa Etheridge rated it really liked it
A painting of a young woman wearing a light blue gown gazing out of a window is the main character in this lovely novel. Girl in Hyacinth Blue is a historical fiction novel that begins in the present then weaves its way back in time.

The story begins with the current owner of the painting wishing to rid himself of it because of the way that his father obtained the painting. He believes that he can rid himself of the guilt that he associates with the painting by burning it. From there the reader
Kate Forsyth
Mar 18, 2016 Kate Forsyth rated it it was amazing
One of my all-time favourite books by one of my all-time favourite authors, GIRL IN HYACINTH BLUE tells the story of a painting in a series of interlinked vignettes moving backwards in time.

The first is set in contemporary times, telling the story of a middle-aged man who has in his possession an extraordinary painting of a young girl which he believes is a lost Vermeer. He cannot prove it, however, for the painting has no provenance. And he cannot show it to any specialists, because the painti
Jun 18, 2007 Kim rated it really liked it
I loved this story! It begins when a young man shows up with a painting that he thinks might be valuable and he wants to have it authenicated (I can't remember how he finds it now. . ),but it turns out to be a Vermeer! The rest of the book is about this painting, and who all owned it over the years until you get all the way back to Vermeer himself painting his little daughter. I read this in my book group and compared it with Girl With a Pearl Earring, which was also about Vermeer. Though both b ...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Girl in Hyacinth Blue follows the path of a painting, possibly by Vermeer, from an aloof math professor backwards to the painter and the subject. Each owner has a different story to tell, and even a little bit of a different relationship to the painting, but they all love it and find echoes of something they feel inside themselves inside the painting. And isn't that sort of the point of truly great art?

The novel itself has the feel of a short story collection. Each chapter is about a different o
Clif Hostetler
Nov 10, 2015 Clif Hostetler rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
I listened to the audio of this book before my days, therefore I don't have my own review. However, here is a review from today's PageADay Book Lover's Calendar that reminded me of the book:

In this riveting novel, Susan Vreeland imagines a long-lost Vermeer masterpiece. She follows the painting back in time, through its various owners, finally ending in Delft, where she identifies the subject of the painting and allows the girl in question to tell her own moving story. Full of orig
May 18, 2008 Winna rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Camelia Rose
A novel or a short story collection? Probably both. It consists of eight stories, each belongs to a different owner of the fictional painting by Vermeer, smartly if sometimes unevenly wired together in reverse chronicle order.

Enjoyable reading. Some stories feel stronger than others. I particularly like "Love Enough" and "From the Personal Papers of Adriaan Kuypers".
Aug 25, 2012 Patrick rated it liked it
The book is written in the style of the movie "The Red Violin" and Geraldine Brooks' "People of the Book" which follows an object down through the ages.

While Cornelius is mesmerized by the Vermeer painting, he feels guilty on how the painting was acquired by his father who was a Nazi officer in the Netherlands and thus stole the painting from a rich Jewish family.

In his old age, he confesses the crime to Richard in the hope of acquitting his father's crime and thus save the painting from destru
Dec 29, 2016 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful book. I loved the idea of it--the story of a painting, told by different owners. I've encountered similar works (The Red Violin, Antonietta, Accordion Crimes) and it works well. The writing here was quite lovely and I really enjoyed the individual stories. Definitely made me want to pull out my book of Vermeer's artwork. I will be reading more of Vreeland's books!
Bindu Manoj
Sep 08, 2013 Bindu Manoj rated it really liked it
A mathematics professor, who is a "mild mannered acquaintance to all rather than a friend to any, a person anxious to become invisible,' uncharacteristically invites home, his colleague, an art teacher to view a painting. He instantly recognizes the style as that of Vermeer. The professor indignantly ascertains that it is indeed an original ,

"Look. Look at her eye. Like a pearl. Pearls were favorite items of Vermeer. The longing in her expression. And look at that Delft lighting spilling on to h
Marina Shemesh
Dec 12, 2014 Marina Shemesh rated it it was amazing
In the novel "Girl in Hyacinth Blue" the author Susan Vreeland traces the origins of an imaginary Vermeer painting. We first meet the present owner, the son of a Nazi soldier and then follow the history of the painting backwards. The book concludes with the life story of Vermeer's daughter, the original girl in hyacinth blue.

One can easily conclude that the novel is a collection of short stories. The single thread that keeps them together, is the presence of the Vermeer painting. All the stories
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Stitchers Book Club: Girl in Hyacinth Blue 2 10 Jan 23, 2014 08:19AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland 1 2 Sep 26, 2013 06:25PM  
  • The Painted Kiss
  • Artemisia
  • Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper
  • I Am Madame X
  • The Virgin Blue
  • The Illuminator (Illuminator, #1)
  • I, Mona Lisa
  • The Ruby Ring
  • The Music Lesson
  • Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet
  • Leonardo's Swans
  • Portrait of an Unknown Woman
  • Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X
  • Signora Da Vinci
  • The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade that Gave the World Impressionism
  • Sunflowers
  • The Four Seasons: A Novel of Vivaldi's Venice
  • With Violets
Susan Vreeland is an internationally renowned best-selling author and four-time winner of the Theodor Geisel Award for Fiction, the San Diego Book Award’s highest honor. She is known for writing historical fiction on art-related themes, including Girl in Hyacinth Blue, The Passion of Artemisia, Luncheon of the Boating Party, and Clara and Mr. Tiffany. Her books have been translated into 26 languag ...more
More about Susan Vreeland...

Share This Book

“Everybody works . . . . That's what life is. Work and a little play and a lot of prayer.” 11 likes
“In the end, it's only the moments that we have, the kiss on the palm, the joint wonder at the furrowed texture of a fir trunk or at the infinitude of grains of sand in a dune. Only the moments.” 8 likes
More quotes…