Friday, October 10, 2008
Book Review: Girl in Hyacinth Blue
This novel by Susan Vreeland begins with a painting that one instructor shares with another at a private academy in Pennsylvania and ends with the creation of the painting itself, hundreds of years earlier. Like the doll in Rachel Field's wonderful Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, the painting goes from home to home, from family to family, in a series of usually bittersweet scenarios. Among other stories, the painting is given as payment for the upkeep of motherless baby in Holland, purchased because a man is reminded of his first true love, and is traded as food for the artist himself.
The artist himself: Vermeer. I read Tracy Chavelier's Girl with the Pearl Earring about a year ago. If you haven't read either of these books yet, I'd strongly recommend reading Girl with the Pearl Earring first and then follow it with Girl in Hyacinth Blue. The two complement each other beautifully, and both make me want to study Vermeer much more. Vreeland does a wonderful job of expressing the pure joy that a perfect painting brings to people, the bonding that happens between art and artist and art and owner.