Sarah's Reviews > Girl in Hyacinth Blue

Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
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's review
Jul 20, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: own, 20th-century
Read in July, 2010

Girl in Hyacinth Blue traces the history of a Vermeer painting as it passes from one owner to another. The book is told in reverse chronological order, beginning in present time with a math teacher, who was bequeathed the painting from his father, hiding it in a closed off study in his house, and ending with the story of the girl who was the subject of the painting and what she is really thinking while being painted.

This book wasn’t what I was expecting at all. I expected one long story but it ended up being a series of beautifully written short stories about completely different people in different times. The fact that it wasn’t one long novel and was instead a bunch of short stories didn’t take away from anything; the author was very good at making the book as a whole read seamlessly. It helped that they all had something in common, which was the Vermeer painting.

Each story (there are eight) is about how the painting enters into each person’s life, how their unique perspectives influence their interpretation of the painting, and how the painting personally affects them when it comes into and out of their lives; and that’s what I love most about this book. I love how each person grew up with completely different life experiences, in different places and they each interpret the same painting so differently; but they all love it as much as the other for whatever reason.

It’s a really great, simple, fast read.

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