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Girl with a Pearl Earring - A review

February 28, 2008
Posted by mmarvs in : Books
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by Ana Bermúdez Gavito

Girl with a Pearl Earring is a 1990 beautiful historical novel written by Tracy Chevalier. It takes place in Delft, Holland and was inspired in its essence by Vermeer’s painting ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’, which is the photo on the cover of the book. It recreates with elegant style the circumstances under which the painting was created. It was adapted into a 2003 film with the same name.

Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of Griet, a poor 16 years old Dutch girl who becomes a maid, in the house of the painter Johannes Vermeer. The action takes place in the 17th century in Holland. At the beginning she is uncomfortable in the house, but finally she managed to settle in her new life. However, her brilliant progress, charity and manners help her in her daily life at Vermeer’s house and in her household duties but also attract the painter’s attention. Though different in upbringing, education and social standing, they have a similar way of looking at things, especially paintings. Vermeer slowly draws her into the world of his paintings and his strong feelings hidden because of his wife. Their paintings absolutely reflect the luminous images of solitary women in domestic duties.

In contrast to her work in her master’s studio, Griet must design a place for herself in a difficult Catholic household run by Vermeer’s wife Catharina, his astute mother-in-law Maria Thins, and their hardcore maid Tanneke. The six children fill out the household, dominated by six years old daughter called Cornelia, a mischievous girl who sees more than she should.

On the verge of her privacy, Griet also feel happy with the growing attentions both from a local butcher, Pieter and from Vermeer’s patron, the wealthy van Ruijven. She has to find her way through this new and strange life outside her protestant family where she grew up in, now fragmented by her father’s accident and her sister’s death. With all the surroundings Griet becomes part of her master’s work; their growing intimacy spreads disruption and jealousy within the ordered household and even ripples in the world beyond.

The author Tracy Chevalier (born October 1962 in Washington DC) is a bestselling novelist. She became well known with her novel Girl with a Pearl Earring, a book based on the creation of the famous painting by Vermeer. Furthermore, there is a film based on the novel which received three Academy Award nominations in 2004. Some parts of the book have been removed in the film but however, the film shows you all the real paintings described with more detail.

Chevalier has shown a perfect written style and considering all the details. She sends the reader into a mysterious world, with all the characters well-described and a combination of passion, troubles and romance. The book can be considered as a brainy novel and something different to read.

If you want, the novel will touch your soul and you will have a magical experience. I should say that is not only a novel. There is so much mystery in each word that you have to discover.
I am really grateful for discovering this painter with the book. I could see all the drama and the real history inside by looking on Griet’s face. Finally you discover that painting suggests so many stories and most of them have not been told yet.

Listen to the sound review here.
In this link you can hear a sample of the book.
More information about the film: http://www.girlwithapearlearringmovie.com/

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