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Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Girl with a Pearl Earring (original 1999; edition 2001)

by Tracy Chevalier

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13,176246166 (3.77)498
Title:Girl with a Pearl Earring
Authors:Tracy Chevalier
Info:Plume (2001), Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Your library

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Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (1999)


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English (224)  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 (244)
Showing 1-5 of 224 (next | show all)
LMIC book club, good fictionalized story about a maid in Dutch painter Vermeer's household & how he came to paint her portrait ( )
  nancynova | Sep 12, 2015 |
Griet and her brother Franz enter the world of work as adolescents and make their way with minimal adult protection and guidance. Griet works in the family of the painter Vermeer and becomes further and further in his power. Vermeer at times protects Griet but also asks her to support his work in ways that violate her standards of behavior for decent young women. Because she feels both violated and powerless she makes a decision about her own behavior that is contrary to her moral beliefs.

None of the adults in this book can be described as behaving appropriately by modern standards, but it wasn't a modern world. There was a desperate need to provide the basic necessities of life and a general lack of education and means to provide what was needed. In the end Griet made the most responsible decision she could make for herself, but she didn't really have many options. She seemed like a real person caught in an unmanageable situation.

Overall, I found this book uncomfortable but well written. Griet remained a responsible girl who had to settle into a life of adult responsibilities before she was ready. ( )
  karmiel | Jul 30, 2015 |
This was the perfect holiday read - I absolutely loved this novel. I think most people are familiar with the fictionalised story of the Dutch maid who became a muse to the painter Vermeer, leading to the famous 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' painting, but despite already knowing the story I still thoroughly enjoyed this historical novel.

Chevalier's writing is so vivid I could picture so clearly every aspect of the house Griet served in, the counter at the meat market she frequented, the studio Vermeer painted in, her bedroom in the attic where she helped to grind the colours for the paint. And such memorable characters, from Griet and Vermeer themselves, to her blind father, Vermeer's difficult wife, his strict but fair mother-in-law, the wealthy but sleazy art buyer, the jealous housemaid, and the scheming daughter.

A wonderfully gripping book - pick it up and be prepared to lose yourself in it for a day.

Easily 5 stars. ( )
  AlisonY | Jul 10, 2015 |
I remember when this was first published because I was so taken with the painting on the cover. I'd never seen it before and there's something in her delicacy that puts me in mind of my girlfriend at the time. I wanted to read it immediately but, what with one thing and another, never got round to it until now. Cracking novel, and I recommend that, unlike me, you don't wait fourteen years before reading it. The tone is spot on throughout. The vocabulary is also superb; the narrator is uneducated but intelligent and the vocab is never dumbed down. I liked the way she just says "he" when she refer to Vermeer. I got completely drawn in and the last line is perfect. ( )
  Lukerik | May 13, 2015 |
Angus and Robertson Top 100 (2006-2008). Book #79.
A very easy book to read. I have come to really enjoy reading historical novels and this one did not disappoint. It was fairly short, and not at all difficult, which meant I was able to finish it quite quickly. If you like the painting, and are someone who likes to know the story behind it (despite being a piece of fiction) then I would recommend reading this book. ( )
  amme_mr | May 1, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 224 (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
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:39 -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.

(summary from another edition)

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