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Girl With a Pearl Earring
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Girl With a Pearl Earring

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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  334,785 ratings  ·  6,263 reviews

History and fiction merge seamlessly in Tracy Chevalier's luminous novel about artistic vision and sensual awakening. Through the eyes of sixteen-year-old Griet, the world of 1660s Holland comes dazzlingly alive in this richly imagined portrait of the young woman who inspired one of Vermeer's most celebrated paintings.

Paperback, 233 pages
Published 2001 by Plume (first published 1999)
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Daniel
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
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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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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Kelly
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
Natasha!
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
Anna
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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Marian
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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Carol
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
Ij
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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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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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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Lavinia
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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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.
Luana
Piccolo aneddoto familiare di introduzione alla lettura de 'La ragazza con l'orecchino di perla'.
Qualche tempo fa, su Sky Cinema andava ininterrotto in programmazione un film dall'enigmatico titolo, appunto quello del libro in questione (film e libro omonimi) e mia sorella rimaneva lì a guardarlo per tutte le ore ininterrotte. Da poco, sono passati quasi due anni da questa ipnosi cinematografica, ho chiesto a mia sorella che cosa abbia pensato del film che tanto intensamente guardava, aspettan
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Jason Koivu
I CAN'T SHOUT "MEH!" LOUD ENOUGH!!!
Robert Beveridge
Tracy Chevalier, Girl with a Pearl Earring (Dutton, 1999)

To date, I've read only one bad review of this slight novel, and a whole lot of excellent ones. I'm casting my vote on the excellent side. Chevalier took one of Vermeer's best-known and most enigmatic paintings and built a story around it (there are a series of these novels; Joyce Carol Oates' I Lock My Door Upon Myself is the only other one I've read, and it is similarly excellent). Griet, a sixteen-year-old from the Protestant side of th
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Ryan
I had to persevere in order to make it through Tracy Chevalier's Girl With a Pearl Earring. In spite of all the reviews on the back cover lauding this as a literary gem, a literary jewel, and a dazzling novel, I was pretty sure it was "just" a romance novel.

My romance credentials are these: although I have never read a romance novel, I have seen the covers of romance novels. And I've also listened to people I know discuss romance novels. So with that it mind...

It struck me as cheesy in a Fabio r
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Chrissie
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
Jennifer
This is the story of Griet - a maid in 1600's Delft Holland and the imagined subject of Vermeer's famous painting. I really enjoyed this book. I love thinking that Chevalier was looking at this painting and thought - What is this story? Who is this girl? The stunted writer in me thinks this would be a really fun writing exercise.

I really have to give Chevalier credit. This book was easy to read and very engaging. I am a fan.

On a side note - the movie made from this (with Scarlett Johansonn and
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Ashley
My expectation was low for this book: I just assumed that historical fiction=boring. I was absolutely wrong and I am so glad that I gave this book a chance.

This book was set in 17th century Delft and detailed the journey of Griet, a young woman who becomes a maid and, eventually, muse for the artist (who did exist) Vermeer.

The reason why I really liked this book is the extraordinary way Chevalier describes the ordinary: A trip to the butcher or a walk across the city is so beautifully detailed
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
A lovely little story imagining the story behind some of Vermeer's works, from the perspective of Griet, a Protestant maid. I read it because I will be going to see the painting and other Dutch works at the High Museum in Atlanta while the exhibition is there.

Not a lot of depth, but an enjoyable story, and I'd probably read this author again.
Bonnie
I am astounded by how much I disliked this book. The more I think about it, the more I hate it. It's only saved from a one star rating because I feel that the concept was interesting and I enjoyed the first half. But about page 100 I realized that most of the characters were flat, I thoroughly disliked Greit (the main character) and my expectations for any real romance in this book were not going to be met. Vermeer, Greit's obsession, was a mysterious presence. The only sign he cared for Greit a ...more
David
It has been highly praised; and indeed Tracey Chevalier's Girl With a Pearl Earring is beautifully written, and full of the smell of 17th Century; but finally, in my view, it lacks a dramatic centre. Griet is taken on as a servant, in doing so she moves from the part of Delft where her family lives to the more prosperous neighborhood where the Vermeers live.

The novel centres around her, and her relations with the others in the painter's household. She has an uneasy time with the other servant,
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Coco
I thought this was a beautiful story and I loved the fact that Chevalier created a whole world by gazing at this painting. Griet and her story came to life for me and the exquisite scene where she pierces her ear for Vermeer brought tears to my eyes. I enjoy historical fiction and learning about the 17h century and how Vermeer earned his living and the way the household was run was fascinating. Chevalier's description of making the colors for the paint for so tactile. Sumptuous.
Cheryl
The first Chevalier I read. I'm not a fan of historical fiction, but something (don't know what, but wish I did) about the way she writes is magic for me and now I've read all by her. Maybe you can recommend something similar, out of the vast realms of historical fiction?

ETA: reviewed a couple of years ago, edited for elliptical communication March 2013.
Suzette
I quite enjoyed this book. I'm an art lover and that's what drew me in. I was impressed with the creative idea of writing a story based on a work of art, and I think the author wrote an interesting and believable story.
Ana T.
Girl With a Pearl Earring is one of those books that have been so talked about in a positive way that when the opportunity arised to read it I couldn't help myself.

I do feel that Chevalier is very good at conveying the right atmosphere for her novels. This is the second one I read and in both of them there's an artistic atmosphere, if you can call it that, and a great concern with describing not only the works of art involved but also the materials and techniques the characters use.

In this story
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Ebookwormy
This book was within a stack I picked up from my mom's house; she told me this was a book my brother was required to read in high school. I knew it was a popular book, so I thought i'd give it a try - if only to be conversational.

The style of this book is very subtle and effective. With attention to detail, the reader is methodically introduced to the culture of 17th century Holland. While we learn a little about the city, I think the main achievement is in helping us to understand how people th
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Exina
Girl With a Pearl Earring tells the story of the creation of Johannes Vermeer's famous painting.
Loved the movie starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth, but the book is only mediocre for me.
Kristel
The imaginative story of a young girl who is the subject of the painting by Jan Vermeer, by the same name as the novel, Girl With a Pearl Earring. The painting was a favorite of the author. She bought the poster as a young lady and hung it the places she lived and it inspired this wonderful story. The main character is Griet, a young daughter of a tile artist, who has to take a job after her dad is blinded in a workplace accident. The story gives the reader the inside look at the family where sh ...more
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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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More about Tracy Chevalier...
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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.” 143 likes
“You're so calm and quiet, you never say. But there are things inside you. I see them sometimes, hiding in your eyes.” 76 likes
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