** spoiler alert **
I read the book in only two days, since it is relatively short. It is also well written, easy to understand.
Just like Vermeer paid attention to detail in his paintings, so did Chevalier in her description of 17th century life in Delft.
Only thing I did not quite understand: why was Vermeer such a wimp?? Is afraid to tell his wife that he needs Griet to assist him, does not defend her when they question her about the earrings. Ok, he had to some extend obey to the wishes of Maria Thins, since he lived in HER house and as far as I found out on the Internet about the real Vermeer they also depended financially on her. But for God's sake, he is a grown-up man, head of his fast growing family, and it seems unrealistic to me that a 17th century man would behave like Vermeer did, having to keep secrets from his wife. A normal man wouldn't have bothered if his wife agreed to his doings or not, he would have just done as he wished.
For me Vermeer was rather a negative character, and apart from his (admittetly) beautiful paintings it wasn't quite clear to me why Griet liked him so much. That was never really explained. Or did she admire him only because he could paint so well? Like somebody else already said I'm also of the opinion that he was very egoistic, asking Griet to work for him but do not once think about how she will manage to do that in secret and where she should take the time for his tasks.
----Spoiler ahead, don't read if you haven't read the book yet----
I also didn't understand why Griet didn't speak up at the end, in the studio. She knew she would leave the house, no matter what she says!! Why didn't she answer the question of Maria Thins with "You gave them to me this morning, and I gave them back to you in the afternoon." Why is she such a coward now? Maybe I'm just thinking what I would have said in this situation.
I don't think that Griet's life afterwards was a wonderful one, but I do believe she was contented with what she had: a husband, children, an income. Seems to me better than continue a maid's life in Vermeer's house, with all the mischief there. And I'm sooo glad that Griet finally did slap Cornelia again. Hope it was a hard one.
Afterwards I spent some time looking for Vermeer's paintings on the internet, looking especially for those Griet described (since I already know the one of her).