Girl With a Pearl Earring
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.
The short answer would be 'no'.
Now for the longer answer...
Chevalier is probably one of the best-known historical nov...more
Chevalier has won a place in my heart and bookshelf. Her novels are well-crafted, sim...more
My interest in art over the years was quite inconsistent and I started by liking the mod...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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 clever euphemism for artist-bangin'. It is, quite literally, referring to the detailed descriptions of ho...more
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...more
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,...more
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...more
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...more
And I enjoyed it, too. I was being a bit sceptical before, actually I only read it, so I could watch the movie afterwards, but I was surprised in a good way.
I was captured by the narrative pretty soon and it read very lightly, very easily. I was longing for such a book for some time. Reading it was as easy as watching TV, but still it was good literature and not a cheap action tome.
The first-person narrator was done very well, I thought, Griet is a composed and exact o...more
On the surface, this book appears to be a doomed love story and a nifty piece of historical fiction based upon a famous painting, and it is both of those things, but under the surface it is a social commentary - principally about gender roles.
At the beginning of the book, Griet's life is simple - she has a clearly-defined 'place' in life and knows what is expected of her - she accepts this; however, as she comes into contact with more men (t...more
ETA: reviewed a couple of years ago, edited for elliptical communication March 2013.
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...more
I liked the Dutchness of this book, because my father is Dutch, and I pretty much like all things Dutch (not to be confused with this website, which I also like). In addition, I have an aunt named Griet, so I immediately liked the main character :) However, in general, I don't really prefer book...more
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...more
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...more
Here is a descript...more
While little is known of the woman in Vermeer's painting, this book attempts to discover more about her and the story of Vermeer's inspiration.
This story reminds me a lot of "Memoirs of a Geisha", another of my favorite books. The only differece being the location: Holland in 1660.
Griet comes to work as a maid for Johannes and Catharina Vermeer, the latter being a tyrannical headmistress who, along with her daughter...more
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19 October 1962 in Washington, DC. Youngest of 3 children. Father was a photographer for The Washington Post.
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.