Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Book Review: Girl With the Pearl Earring

October 30, 2007

I have had this book by Tracy Chavelier on my reading list for a long, long time. I've even owned a copy of it, courtesty of Paperback Swap, for months, and I've loaned it out to a few friends. I have no idea why I took so long to get to this, but I'm glad I finally did. I love this kind of novel. Take an artist. Take a painting. Take the subject of the painting, and write their story. This is the story of the Dutch painter Vermeer and how "Girl With the Pearl Earring" came to be painted.

The story is told by Griet, the sixteen-year-old Dutch maid who becomes Vermeer's assistant and eventually the subject of one of his most famous paintings. Griet must hire out as a maid due to her family's reduced circumstances, and, because her father was an artist, she is given a position in an artist's family. Vermeer's wife, who is constantly pregnant, instantly despises Griet. Vermeer himself recognizes a kindred spirit in the girl, and he secretly makes her his assistant. Griet goes between being terrified of being caught by Vermeer's jealous wife and inexpressibly honored at being essential to Vermeer. The chaos of this large household is palpable, and Griet's quiet wisdom and view of life adds a perfect frame. I am absolutely adding Chevalier's other novels to my list.

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