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Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Girl with a Pearl Earring (1999)

by Tracy Chevalier

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (221)  Spanish (4)  Italian (4)  Dutch (2)  Catalan (2)  French (1)  Danish (1)  Thingamabrarian (the ideal language) (1)  Portuguese (1)  German (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Finnish (1)  Lithuanian (1)  All languages (241)
Showing 1-5 of 221 (next | show all)
The first Chevalier I read. I'm not a fan of historical fiction, but something (don't know what, but wish I did) about the way she writes is magic for me and now I've read all by her. Maybe you can recommend something similar, out of the vast realms of historical fiction?

ETA: reviewed a couple of years ago, edited for elliptical communication March 2013. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Girl With a Pearl Earring is possibly one of Vermeer's most celebrated paintings. But who was the girl? In this novel, her name is Griet. She is a maid in the Vermeer's household, sent by her parents after an accident leaves her father unable to work. Griet is homesick, but she does what is asked of her to help her family. As she works in the household, Vermeer begins to give her more responsibility helping him with his painting; she moves from cleaning his studio to posing for a portrait. She inspires him in a way no one has in a while, but she is unlike other subjects he has painted; most of his subjects are women of class, and Griet is just a maid. Despite resistance from many fronts, Vermeer finishes the painting, and we now have one of the greatest and most studied paintings of all time. This was a good book; at first, I thought it would be like Girl in Hyacinth Blue, which follows a painting through its many owners and times. But I ended up liking how this novel focused on the creation of the painting; I often wonder what inspires art, and though this book is fiction, it still gives me a glimpse into the life of Vermeer and his work. ( )
  litgirl29 | Feb 1, 2015 |
This had been sitting on my bookshelves for a numbers of years and not until my e reader broke did I have a look at it. What a wonderful book. I finished it in on day. Easy read and captivating story. I just couldn't put it down. I felt as if I was watching a movie play before my eyes. Great book! ( )
  AnnikaBirgitta | Jan 27, 2015 |
I was surprised really at how different a work this was from The Virgin Blue which I read immediately prior to this. It seems my experience with authors that go back and forth between past and present is that they tend to do it consistently, but this was rooted firmly in the 17th century. I enjoyed the historical aspects of a time and place with which I was not already familiar. Quick easy read. ( )
  MaureenCean | Jan 1, 2015 |
Griet's impoverished family allow her to become a maid in the home of the artist Vermeer. Although fictional, Chevalier refers to many of the techniques used by the artist. I found it useful to refer often to an internet catalogue of his paintings that helped me visualize many points in the story. I enjoyed the details of a 17th century household and description of a maid's duties. Unfortunately character development was weak and they came across quite flat in an insipid, sometimes repellant story. Chevalier used several metaphors that are oddly discordant: when Griet arrived at the Vermeer house she was told to throw her belongings down into the cellar where she would sleep "I felt like an apple tree losing its fruit"; and her blind father struggling to voice his thoughts "like a beetle that has fallen on its back and cannot turn itself over". I expected more from this book, it was okay but not significant. ( )
  VivienneR | Dec 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 221 (next | show all)
For a while it seems that it will be... an artist romance. Tracy Chevalier steers her novel deliberately close and tacks abruptly away. The book she has written, despite a lush note or two and occasional incident overload, is something far different and better... [Instead, it is] a brainy novel whose passion is ideas.
Chevalier's exploration into the soul of this complex but nave young woman is moving, and her depiction of 17th-century Delft is marvelously evocative.

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tracy Chevalierprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bruning, FransTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eikli, RagnhildTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fortier-Masek, Marie-OdileTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gothóni, ArjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pugliese, LucianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riera, ErnestTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strandberg, AnnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vázquez, PilarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wulfekamp, UrsulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Chevalier's classic book takes place during the 17th Century and features Griet, a young Dutch maid, who moves in with the family of the well-known artist Vermeer; she discovers that her profession requires long hours, no privacy, and small contact with her own ailing family. However, Griet's only place of solitude is when she cleans Vermeer's studio and reveals to him her appreciation of his art.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0452282152, Paperback)

With precisely 35 canvases to his credit, the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer represents one of the great enigmas of 17th-century art. The meager facts of his biography have been gleaned from a handful of legal documents. Yet Vermeer's extraordinary paintings of domestic life, with their subtle play of light and texture, have come to define the Dutch golden age. His portrait of the anonymous Girl with a Pearl Earring has exerted a particular fascination for centuries--and it is this magnetic painting that lies at the heart of Tracy Chevalier's second novel of the same title.

Girl with a Pearl Earring centers on Vermeer's prosperous Delft household during the 1660s. When Griet, the novel's quietly perceptive heroine, is hired as a servant, turmoil follows. First, the 16-year-old narrator becomes increasingly intimate with her master. Then Vermeer employs her as his assistant--and ultimately has Griet sit for him as a model. Chevalier vividly evokes the complex domestic tensions of the household, ruled over by the painter's jealous, eternally pregnant wife and his taciturn mother-in-law. At times the relationship between servant and master seems a little anachronistic. Still, Girl with a Pearl Earring does contain a final delicious twist.

Throughout, Chevalier cultivates a limpid, painstakingly observed style, whose exactitude is an effective homage to the painter himself. Even Griet's most humdrum duties take on a high if unobtrusive gloss:

I came to love grinding the things he brought from the apothecary--bones, white lead, madder, massicot--to see how bright and pure I could get the colors. I learned that the finer the materials were ground, the deeper the color. From rough, dull grains madder became a fine bright red powder and, mixed with linseed oil, a sparkling paint. Making it and the other colors was magical.
In assembling such quotidian particulars, the author acknowledges her debt to Simon Schama's classic study The Embarrassment of Riches. Her novel also joins a crop of recent, painterly fictions, including Deborah Moggach's Tulip Fever and Susan Vreeland's Girl in Hyacinth Blue. Can novelists extract much more from the Dutch golden age? The question is an open one--but in the meantime, Girl with a Pearl Earring remains a fascinating piece of speculative historical fiction, and an appealingly new take on an old master. --Jerry Brotton

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:34 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Holland comes to dazzling life in this richly imagined portrait of Griet, a sixteen year old of the 1660s who inspired one of Vermeer's most celebrated paintings.

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