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

by Tracy Chevalier

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13,723266153 (3.77)515
Member:bolgai
Title:Girl with a Pearl Earring
Authors:Tracy Chevalier
Info:Plume (2001), Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (1999)

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Showing 1-5 of 244 (next | show all)
The very first time I saw the cover of Girl with a Pearl Earring, I was truly mesmerized and intrigued by the look in the girl’s face. I did some digging later, and found out is an actual painting by Johannes Vermeer, 17th century Dutch artist and dealer. Being a bit of a history buff and a lover of art, I was not going to pass out on reading this book, although it had to stay on my wish list for a while before I actually went ahead and bought the book.

In this Ted Talk Tracy Chevalier tells us about how she made up a back story for this painting, which would later become the keystone of her novel. Griet was sixteen when she gets sent to be a maid in the Vermeer household due to unfortunate circumstances at home. Doing laundry and cleaning Vermeer’s studio are Griet’s main tasks, however Griet has to face many hardships within the Vermeer household itself, with no allies so to speak of except Johannes’ mother-in-law Maria Thins and Johannes himself. So the studio becomes the place where Griet seeks solace.

As the story goes on, we realize Johannes Vermeer is a slow painter. He would paint two-three painting a year at most, which is hardly enough feed an ever-growing family (by the time Griet entered the household, Johannes and his wife, Catharina had five children and one on the way). When Van Ruijven, a married patron and a lecher, who has commissioned several of Johannes’ paintings asks to sit for one with Griet, what would happen? Johannes can not afford to turn down Van’s request for his wrath would put his family in jeopardy, but at the same time Johannes cares for Griet. This conundrum gives birth to the painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring”.

"He saw things in a way that others did not, so that a city I had lived in all my life seemed a different place, so that a woman became beautiful with the light on her face."

Girl with a Pearl Earring is an astounding novel because it also brings into life other paintings of Johannes Vermeer, the ultimate enigma. Among the other paintings which appear in this novel, “The View of Delft” is my favorite.

Having read Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier, I must add that I do not think Girl with a Pearl Earring is her best. Yet, if not for this novel, or the subsequent movie, most of us would not have stumbled upon Girl with a Pearl Earring painting, which is often referred to as “Mona Lisa of the North”. And for that, I am grateful to Tracy Chevalier!🙂 ( )
  Nirmala.Chandrasiri | Dec 6, 2016 |
It is 1664 Holland and Griet is 16-years old. Her father recently had an accident and can no longer work, so Griet must work as a maid to help her family with food and money. She is hired on at the painter, Vermeer's, house. As she tries to adjust to a whole new world, she is growing up, and she finds a local butcher's son is attracted to her, while she is trying to learn and do all her duties at Vermeer's home and studio.

I really liked this. It was not fast-paced, but I was drawn in from the start and something about it kept me wanting to read. ( )
  LibraryCin | Oct 20, 2016 |
Captures the emotional landscape of the 17th Century girl. A beautiful example of deep point-of-view. Definite recommend. ( )
  zoegreenfeld | Sep 20, 2016 |
Tracy Chevalier and I have a complicated relationship. I know she's a good writer, I know her plots are well thought-out and her characters are interesting, and have depth.

... but there's just something missing from her writing, and I'm not sure what it is. I didn't really like Griet as a character. She didn't feel satisfying to me, in the same way that the main protagonist from a Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood didn't satisfy me.

I found the atmosphere really well-constructed, and I thought the backstory had plenty of detail. The characters were all fine, but somehow, I didn't ever feel comfortable enough to really sink my teeth into it and lose myself in it.

Don't let my review sway you from reading this if you think it's your thing. I do have another book by her that I preferred over this one, but this book just wasn't the book for me.






Don't let my review stop you from reading her book ( )
  lydia1879 | Aug 31, 2016 |
While not my favorite read so far, this book is at least moderately enjoyable. More importantly, though it is set in 1660s Europe, this novel highlights the illusion of social mobility we cling to and our obsession with appearances. We like to think that we have moved on from the prejudices of Griet's days, but some of what she faces feels all too familiar. ( )
  km.bezner | Aug 25, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 244 (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 editionscalculated
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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My mother did not tell me they were coming.
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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)

Chevalier transports readers to a bygone time and place in this richly imagined portrait of the young woman who inspired one of Vermeer's most celebrated paintings. "Girl with a Pearl Earring" is the story of 16-year-old Griet, whose life is transformed by her brief encounter with genius, even as she herself is immortalized in canvas and oil. An Independent Bestseller Winner of the 2000 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award! Tracy Chevalier transports readers to a bygone time and place in this richly-imagined portrait of the young woman who inspired one of Vermeer's most celebrated paintings. History and fiction merge seamlessly in this luminous novel about artistic vision and sensual awakening. Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of sixteen-year-old Griet, whose life is transformed by her brief encounter with genius even as she herself is immortalized in canvas and oil.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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