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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Fascinating look in to a time, place and culture I previously knew almost nothing about. I found the story so unique. Read morePublished 20 days ago by Kate D Milano
Great fictional account of the famous portrait and how it could have messed up the lives of those involved.Published 1 month ago by C. DeJong
I very much enjoyed this "explanation" of who the girl in the painting was & what her life was like.Published 1 month ago by Jaronn Drassal
I can't remember how it was narrated. This novel was recommended by a friend and I enjoyed it, but not as much as I had hoped. It was a bit dry and stilted at times.Published 1 month ago by Dr. Kristi S. Fowler
With a little patience, the author creates a beautiful love story. A father's love for his daughter, a master's love for his maid and a butcher's love of his wife beautifully... Read morePublished 1 month ago by JenRMRCRR2