Book: Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
Category : Historical Fiction
Protagonist: Griet and Vermeer
Summary of the book : from author’s website
Girl With a Pearl Earring tells the story of Griet, a 16-year-old Dutch girl who becomes a maid in the house of the painter Johannes Vermeer. Her calm and perceptive manner not only helps her in her household duties, but also attracts the painter’s attention. Though different in upbringing, education and social standing, they have a similar way of looking at things. Vermeer slowly draws her into the world of his paintings – the still, luminous images of solitary women in domestic settings.
In contrast to her work in her master’s studio, Griet must carve a place for herself in a chaotic Catholic household run by Vermeer’s volatile wife Catharina, his shrewd mother-in-law Maria Thins, and their fiercely loyal maid Tanneke. Six children (and counting) fill out the household, dominated by six-year-old Cornelia, a mischievous girl who sees more than she should.
On the verge of womanhood, Griet also contends with the growing attentions both from a local butcher and from Vermeer’s patron, the wealthy van Ruijven. And she has to find her way through this new and strange life outside the loving Protestant family she grew up in, now fragmented by accident and death.
As Griet becomes part of her master’s work, their growing intimacy spreads disruption and jealousy within the ordered household and even – as the scandal seeps out – ripples in the world beyond.
Things I liked about this book:
Reading about art has always fascinated me . Though it is historical fiction set in the 17 th century ,author has done full justice to Vermeer , his muse and his painting. I loved the way the story of the ‘girl’ was woven in to Vermeer’s life.
Griet , is a very sensitive person who gets pulled into Vermeer’s life and art when he decides that she is going to be the subject of his painting. But as eccentric and self involved as artists can be , Vermeer does not realise that choosing this girl can lead to a upheaval in her already difficult life in his house dominated by his wife Cornelia and his tyrannical mother in law who have no respect for servants . As the book is from Griet’s point of view , we get to see the social stratification of the period , the prejudices based on religious beliefs interwoven into the tale of one of Vermeer’s most famous painting.
Griet’s narration holds you from the first line and it does not stop being interesting at any point. Some really good description of the Dutch life and Vermeer’s painting style makes it a must read book for all art lovers.
A well researched and a well written book. Highly recommended.
Things I disliked about the book : None
On my rating scale : 4.5 out of 5
Challenges for which the book is listed : Centuries Challenge 2009
Source : Personal Copy