The Girl With the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
Posted by Caitie F on August 29, 2011
Summary (from goodreads):
Girl with a Pearl Earring centres on Vermeer’s prosperous household in Delft in the 1660s. The appointment of the quiet, perceptive heroine of the novel, the servant Griet, gradually throws the household into turmoil as Vermeer and Griet become increasingly intimate, an increasingly tense situation that culminates in her working for Vermeer as his assistant, and ultimately sitting for him as a model. Chevalier deliberately cultivates a limpid, painstakingly observed style in homage to Vermeer, and the complex domestic tensions of the Vermeer household are vividly evoked, from the jealous, vain, young wife to the wise, taciturn mother-in-law.
I have been wanting to read this book for a very long time. I love the painting and thought that the idea of telling a story about how it might have come about was really cool.
I am very glad I finally read it. The writing is beautiful. I loved the descriptions of all of the places. I felt like I was there, see the Papist Corner walking around the Market, every moment of the book. The beauty of the book is what made it special and what makes it work.
However, I did not enjoy the story like I thought I would. It just felt so far fetched. She felt a connection with her Master, but there seemed to be no real reason behind it. He wanted her to work there for him because of her skill and her talent with the colors, not because he had an attraction to her. It just felt like she was pulling out things that weren’t there, so it never really made sense. The relationship with the butcher’s son also felt very forced and unrealistic. Since I couldn’t buy the actions as being genuine, the plot fell apart for me.
That said, Vermeer’s family fascinated me. From his tough, but brilliant mother-in-law to his bratty daughter, they were all distinct characters that were very enjoyable to read about. It was also interesting seeing the relationship between maids in the household. It was one of the few relationships that felt real.
It was a book worth reading, even if it wasn’t what I was expecting.