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I 1600-talets Delft i Holland är livet ordnat efter strikta mönster. Rika och fattiga, katoliker och protestanter, herrskap och tjänstefolk - alla vet sin plats. Så när den sextonåriga Griet träder i tjänst hos målaren Johannes Vermeer vet hon sin roll: hushållsarbete, tvätt och passning av barnen. Men snart får hon även förtroendet att städa konstnärens minutiöst inredda a I 1600-talets Delft i Holland är livet ordnat efter strikta mönster. Rika och fattiga, katoliker och protestanter, herrskap och tjänstefolk - alla vet sin plats. Så när den sextonåriga Griet träder i tjänst hos målaren Johannes Vermeer vet hon sin roll: hushållsarbete, tvätt och passning av barnen. Men snart får hon även förtroendet att städa konstnärens minutiöst inredda ateljé. Sakta uppstår en slags själarnas sympati - med en underström av attraktion - mellan den store målaren och den enkla tjänsteflickan. Men Vermeers hustru är från första stund avogt inställd till Griet och bevakar svartsjukt sin make. Och när Vermeers mecenat kräver att han ska måla av Griet skärps spänningarna. Ryktena i småstaden Delft ökar trycket och när tavlan är fullbordad väntar en dramatisk uppgörelse.


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I 1600-talets Delft i Holland är livet ordnat efter strikta mönster. Rika och fattiga, katoliker och protestanter, herrskap och tjänstefolk - alla vet sin plats. Så när den sextonåriga Griet träder i tjänst hos målaren Johannes Vermeer vet hon sin roll: hushållsarbete, tvätt och passning av barnen. Men snart får hon även förtroendet att städa konstnärens minutiöst inredda a I 1600-talets Delft i Holland är livet ordnat efter strikta mönster. Rika och fattiga, katoliker och protestanter, herrskap och tjänstefolk - alla vet sin plats. Så när den sextonåriga Griet träder i tjänst hos målaren Johannes Vermeer vet hon sin roll: hushållsarbete, tvätt och passning av barnen. Men snart får hon även förtroendet att städa konstnärens minutiöst inredda ateljé. Sakta uppstår en slags själarnas sympati - med en underström av attraktion - mellan den store målaren och den enkla tjänsteflickan. Men Vermeers hustru är från första stund avogt inställd till Griet och bevakar svartsjukt sin make. Och när Vermeers mecenat kräver att han ska måla av Griet skärps spänningarna. Ryktena i småstaden Delft ökar trycket och när tavlan är fullbordad väntar en dramatisk uppgörelse.

30 review for Flicka med Pärlörhänge

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    “I heard voices outside our front door - a woman's, bright as polished brass, and a man's, low and dark like the wood of the table I was working on. They were the kind of voices we heard rarely in our house. I could hear rich carpets in their voices, books and pearls and fur.” The Girl With the Pearl Earring When the Vermeers came to visit Griet’s home she had no idea they were there for her. Her parents had decided, given their near destitution, to find Griet a position as a maid with a wealth “I heard voices outside our front door - a woman's, bright as polished brass, and a man's, low and dark like the wood of the table I was working on. They were the kind of voices we heard rarely in our house. I could hear rich carpets in their voices, books and pearls and fur.” The Girl With the Pearl Earring When the Vermeers came to visit Griet’s home she had no idea they were there for her. Her parents had decided, given their near destitution, to find Griet a position as a maid with a wealthy family. Her older brother had already been placed in a Delft tile factory. It was now her turn to earn the food that made it’s way into her belly. She was, after all, seventeen. Johannes Vermeer was a master painter, recognized even in his own time as one of the best, but he was a slow painter. He would only paint when he was inspired to paint. An empty purse or a rumbling stomach were never enough inspiration to make him paint faster. He averaged only two to three paintings a year. As someone who has always admired his paintings I do wish he had been more prolific with his brush, but the fact that there are so few paintings by Vermeer make them all the more precious. Griet is thrown into this chaotic household. The house is brimming with children, too many children even by the standards of the day. Catharina, Vermeer’s wife, liked being pregnant and though the added burden of a new mouth to feed each year places extra financial stress on her husband and her mother Maria Thins she is oblivious to the consequences. Their fortunes wane and fall based more on the property incomes of her mother than on the commissioned paintings of Vermeer. Each year the purse strings get pulled a bit tighter. There is one patron, a man who has bought several Vermeer paintings, who they all have to curry favor with...Van Ruijven. His wealth infuses him with an air of entitlement. He is used to getting what he wants and when he sees the wide eyed beauty who has just joined Vermeer’s household he decides he wants her. Vermeer has found from the very beginning that Griet is different. She sees the world as a painter sees the world. He finds reasons to have her help him by grinding paints and assisting with the objects that populate his paintings. It is only natural that a young girl would start to have feelings and dreams regarding a man such as Vermeer. He is not only talented, but he is also attractive with those gray eyes that see so much more than anyone else. ”I did not like to think of him in that way, with his wife and children. I preferred to think of him alone in his studio. Or not alone, but with only me.” She becomes very adept at lying so she can spend more time in the studio. The soldier in The Procuress reminds me of Van Ruijven. One of the most interesting things about this painting is the precariously perched pitcher. It makes me so nervous that I want to reach into the painting and move it to somewhere safer. Van Ruijven, like odious men always seem to be, is adept at finding young women alone. He is not wanting to gossip with her or exchange thoughts about the weather or to woo her or to cajole her into parting with her charms. His hands with fingers like hooks push against her clothes weighing the curve and shape of her. She has to fend him off without offending him. Griet has another man in her life, not one that she would choose, but one that is infatuated with her. Pieter, the butcher’s son, wants to make her his wife. Being the wife of a butcher is a dream for many women because she and her family will always be well fed. A butcher is miles away from dream landscape of being the wife of a master painter. Tracy Chevalier has deftly conceived the possibility of The Girl with the Pearl Earring being a maid in the Vermeer household. With each new revelation the tensions between Griet and Catharina tighten like lute strings pressing into tender flesh. Maria Thins, a realist, runs interference between all parties as best she can, but Catharina beset by jealousy and churlishness has difficulty seeing the bigger picture. I’ve read where other reviewers were disappointed in this book. They felt that very little happened, but they must be the same people who think baseball is boring. I was on the edge of my seat while reading this book as if I were watching a ten pitch at bat in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. The deception of the pitcher trying to outmatch the quick hands of the batter. The shifting of the outfield depending on the ball the pitcher intends to throw next. The subtle communications between the catcher and the pitcher. Add a base runner at first and now the situation feels like Griet trying to maneuver her way through a world of lust, deviousness, and deceit. Does she run or does she wait for something to happen? There are lots of moments that need no dialogue as Griet experiences impossible longings…“I could not think of anything but his fingers on my neck, his thumb on my lips.” There are things we can’t say because they can not be unsaid. Scarlett Johansson played Griet in the 2003 movie of The Girl With the Pearl Earring. The painting that Vermeer paints of Griet is a compromise to Van Ruijven who wanted much, much more. With her direct gaze at her audience and the slight parting of her lips this is an acceptable form of pornography, slightly scandalous, fodder for gossips, but not anything that could bring unwanted attention from the authorities. It gives Griet a shiver to think of her captured innocence resting under the lecherous eyes of Van Ruijven, but better a painting than losing that which she wishes to give her future husband. I bought a canvas copy of The Girl With the Pearl Earring last year. The print is gallery wrapped which gives the painting animation as if it can jump away from the wall and walk into this life. She is hung over the staircase with enough light from the window over the door to show off the skill of Vermeer to illuminate. When people walk in the door they are struck as millions over centuries have been struck. People who don’t know a Vermeer from a Dali have to take a moment to access and appreciate her lustrous beauty. From where I sit to read I can see her and occasionally she catches my eye, a flirtation that makes me feel years younger. ”I looked at the painting one last time, but by studying it so hard I felt something slip away. It was like looking at a star in the night sky--if I looked at one directly I could barely see it, but if I looked from the corner of my eye it became much brighter.” If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  2. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Another one of my wife's recommendations (I read a lot of books that way), I picked it up from the bookshelf the night we came back from seeing the film with Scarlett Johansonn and Colin Firth. I loved the movie--it was just so incredibly sumptuous--and was curious to know the story in the novel, which I knew from experience, and from my wife's continuous comments, would be different, more detailed. I was right. Chevalier has won a place in my heart and bookshelf. Her novels are well-crafted, sim Another one of my wife's recommendations (I read a lot of books that way), I picked it up from the bookshelf the night we came back from seeing the film with Scarlett Johansonn and Colin Firth. I loved the movie--it was just so incredibly sumptuous--and was curious to know the story in the novel, which I knew from experience, and from my wife's continuous comments, would be different, more detailed. I was right. Chevalier has won a place in my heart and bookshelf. Her novels are well-crafted, simple to follow, and addictive; Girl was no exception. The story of the maid Griet in 1600's Delft, Holland, was amazing in its simple prose and endless emotion. Completely fictional (no one knows who exactly were the models for any of Vermeer's paintings), it nonetheless possesses a veracity that makes you believe Chevalier found the long-lost journal of this unknown woman and wrote her novel based on it. The details of seventeen century Holland are rich; you feel you are walking the canal-lined streets of Delft, smelling the pungent scents of the Meat Market, holding your breath as Vermeer paints next to you. Griet is a wonderful protagonist, taking you into her world, yet retaining a few secrets for herself, especially where Vermeer is concerned. Girl is one of those novels that truly invites you, and almost kidnaps you, to become part of the story, to walk next to the characters, to share in their lives, to feel as they feel. Watch the movie, by all means (the photography is absolutely incredible), but then read the novel and get the whole story. You will not be disappointed.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I know almost nothing about art, but even I can tell that Girl With a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer is a brilliant painting; 'captivating' is probably the best word to describe it. One presumes that Chevalier agrees with me, and this is what lead her to write a novel about the painting, its subject and its creator. So, is the novel as captivating as the piece that inspired it? The short answer would be 'no'. Now for the longer answer... Chevalier is probably one of the best-known historical nov I know almost nothing about art, but even I can tell that Girl With a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer is a brilliant painting; 'captivating' is probably the best word to describe it. One presumes that Chevalier agrees with me, and this is what lead her to write a novel about the painting, its subject and its creator. So, is the novel as captivating as the piece that inspired it? The short answer would be 'no'. Now for the longer answer... Chevalier is probably one of the best-known historical novelists of the last ten years, with this book always in the foreground when she is discussed. As far as historical information goes, I think she does okay with it. I had a pretty clear picture of the Netherlands in the seventeenth century by the time I was done with the book (whether or not its accurate or not is another matter), but I felt at times that there wasn't that detail that critics proclaimed about on the cover. The characters, I feel, are never truly developed. Vermeer himself remains a mystery throughout, even to the protagonist and narrator, Griet, who appears to have some connection with him. Griet meanwhile, is what I would describe as a stock teenage girl character. She is similar to many characters I've read before, and yet she does not really advance on that. The narrative style is one that I would have adored at 14, but by now find to be pedestrian. This is first person narrative at its simplest (and blandest) and I don't feel that we gain anything from it - the novel may just as well have been in third person and would not have suffered for it. It may even have benefited from it. The structure is interesting. Split into parts that represent years, rather than having chapter breaks makes it difficult to find a stopping place at times, and it is this more than anything else that makes a page turner of the novel. Meanwhile, the entire thing seems to be building to the inevitable moment when Vermeer will paint Griet. The scenes are handled with less intensity than I had hoped for from the build up, and once the painting is finished, Chevalier seems to want nothing but for the novel to be over too, and closes it down rather too quickly. Perhaps the fact that little is known about Vermeer's life would imply that a fictional version of it would be easy to tell. Sadly, the gaps in knowledge seem to be too big to fill. At the end of the novel, I had discovered how this work came about, the girl staring out from it, but still had almost no real idea of the man behind it. It is, in my opinion, a failure in this respect. However, it is a good read if you're looking for something historical but not too heavy. Or if you like art there are some interesting discussions about colour in there. I can see why many people enjoy this novel, but I cannot fathom why some hold it in such high acclaim. I feel it will be some time before I read anything else by Tracy Chevalier.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    I approached this novel trepidatiously. How could I ever suspend my disbelief with this work? How could I ever believe such a ridiculous tale about Vermeer and one of his most revered paintings? I must admit that I opened this novel expecting to utterly detest the lies it weaves. By page two I realised that I was an idiot who should never be listened to. Griet is hired as a maid to the Vermeer family in Delft. This novel supposes that Griet the maid was the sitter for Vermeer's great work Girl w I approached this novel trepidatiously. How could I ever suspend my disbelief with this work? How could I ever believe such a ridiculous tale about Vermeer and one of his most revered paintings? I must admit that I opened this novel expecting to utterly detest the lies it weaves. By page two I realised that I was an idiot who should never be listened to. Griet is hired as a maid to the Vermeer family in Delft. This novel supposes that Griet the maid was the sitter for Vermeer's great work Girl with a Pearl Earring. However that is not the story, or at least it is only a small part of it. The novel mainly concerns the inner workings of the Vermeer household and Griet's attempts to keep everything in control. It is a fantastic character study and I do admire Chevalier's bravery in using the first-person narrative. Whilst I will admit that at times Griet's dialogue is somewhat stilted and some lines are just downright odd ('His smile made me grip my broom tightly' was one line that made me chuckle due to its utter ridiculousness), she is never an annoying or tiring character. I really enjoyed the subtlety and delicacy of the novel. The plot flows along nicely which causes you to really fly through the narrative. It is not a criticism that I often voice but I would have almost liked for this novel to be longer. I feel I will truly miss Griet. I must say that I am somewhat smitten with this novel. It genuinely surprised me. It's really great.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier Girl with a Pearl Earring is a 1999 historical novel written by Tracy Chevalier. Set in 17th century Delft, Holland, the novel was inspired by Delft school painter Johannes Vermeer's painting Girl with a Pearl Earring. Chevalier presents a fictional account of Vermeer, the model, and the painting. The novel was adapted into a 2003 film of the same name and a 2008 play. Sixteen-year-old Griet lives with her family in Delft in 1664. Her father has been rec Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier Girl with a Pearl Earring is a 1999 historical novel written by Tracy Chevalier. Set in 17th century Delft, Holland, the novel was inspired by Delft school painter Johannes Vermeer's painting Girl with a Pearl Earring. Chevalier presents a fictional account of Vermeer, the model, and the painting. The novel was adapted into a 2003 film of the same name and a 2008 play. Sixteen-year-old Griet lives with her family in Delft in 1664. Her father has been recently blinded in an accident, and the family's precarious economic situation forces Griet's parents to find her employment as a maid in painter Johannes Vermeer's household. Becoming a maid casts doubt on Griet's respectability because of the bad reputation that maids have for stealing, spying and sleeping with their employers. It is not revealed how much of this reputation is earned. At the Vermeers, she befriends the family's oldest daughter, Maertge, but is not on good terms with Cornelia, one of Vermeer's younger daughters. She also becomes friendly with Tanneke, the other house servant, but is careful to remain modest and unobtrusive for fear of making Tanneke jealous. ... تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه نوامبر سال 2001 میلادی عنوان: دختری با گوشواره مروارید؛ نویسنده: تریسی شوالیه؛ مترجم: گلی امامی؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، چشمه، 1380 در 237 ص عنوان: دختری با گوشواره مروارید؛ نویسنده: تریسی شوالیه؛ مترجم: طاهره صدیقیان؛ مشخثات نشر: تهران، کتابسرای تندیس، 1381، در 269 ص، شابک: 9789645757401؛ نقاشی روی جلد کتاب را، یوهانس ورمیر، در سده ی هفدهم میلادی کشیده است، حدس‌ها برای شناسایی نام این مدل نقاشی، بسیار گسترده بوده؛ و همه ی آنها، به علت عدم وجود مشخصه‌ ای ویژه، در صورت، لباس، یا حتی محیط، در حد حدس و گمان، باقیمانده‌ است. از جمله ی حدسها، به: ماریا ورمیر (دختر بزرگ یوهانس)، مدلینا ون رویژون (دختر دوست و حامی یوهانس، پیتر ون رویژون)، و یا مدل گمنامی، که در خانه ی ورمیر به عنوان پیشخدمت کار می‌کرد، میتوان اشاره کرد. جدای از همه ی این حسها و تفاسیر، این اثر از معدود آثاری است، که الهامبخش بسیاری از نویسندگان، نقاشان و فیلمسازان در سده ها پس از شکل گیریش بوده‌ است. از جمله همین نویسنده تریسی شوالیه نیز تحت تاثیر همین نقاشی داستانی آفریده است؛ ا. شربیانی

  6. 4 out of 5

    Madeleine

    So the parts when Vermeer was actually being a painter were interesting. Seeing as I slogged through this on account of a recommendation that arose from an art-class lecture on Vermeer, I was hoping that the art stuff would at least deliver. But it's not a good sign when a book's most compelling moments revolve around two people grinding pigments. And, no: "Grinding pigments" is not a euphemism for artist-bangin'. It is, quite literally, referring to the detailed descriptions of how paint was ma So the parts when Vermeer was actually being a painter were interesting. Seeing as I slogged through this on account of a recommendation that arose from an art-class lecture on Vermeer, I was hoping that the art stuff would at least deliver. But it's not a good sign when a book's most compelling moments revolve around two people grinding pigments. And, no: "Grinding pigments" is not a euphemism for artist-bangin'. It is, quite literally, referring to the detailed descriptions of how paint was made in the days before those fancy metal tubes replaced pig bladders as the paint-storing vessels of choice. This was the most predictable book I've read in a while, and that includes the two graphic-novel series that are simply retelling stories I know well in a new medium. I knew exactly where the plot was going within the book's first dozen pages. Every subsequent thread was introduced with the subtlety of a sledgehammer and the writerly finesse of a 14-year-old's first attempt at fanfiction. It was also pretty obvious what stereotype everyone was going to play from his or her very first appearance. There really isn't a multi-dimensional character in this book. I understand that the first-person voice is a limited perspective by its nature, and I would write it off as just that if the peripheral characters were the only flat archetypes, but even the narrator doesn't carry any convincing weight. Griet is the protagonist because she's the main character. And because all of the characters with whom she has scuffles are inexplicably bitchy. Not giving characters any real motivations, not making them behave and interact believably, and generally preferring to tell rather than show all contributed to making this whole book feel sloppy, underdeveloped and rushed. If "Girl with a Pearl Earring" was maybe 200 more pages of really hammering out the story and its players, maybe then it'd be a more satisfying read. At least it's mercifully quick and mostly painless at its current length. I say "mostly painless" because there are some groan-worthy lines showcased here: While more pages would have maybe benefited the plot, there is nothing -- save for a control-freak editor -- that could have improved the prose itself. I could not get past the clunky writing. It didn't take me long to get violently annoyed by the author's fondness for hitting the reader over the head with the most obvious attempts at subtle foreshadowing by way of forcing too much weight on these flimsy, laughably ominous one-sentence paragraphs. There were numerous other technical things that kept grating on me about the writing and its myriad shortcomings. Among them: Griet saying things like "I always regretted that decision" to indicate that she's looking back on a time that is very clearly written as the present; not one character shows any development throughout the novel; sixteen-year-old Griet, the daughter of a tile painter, somehow knows more about painting and composition than Vermeer, a professional artist who actually managed to garner some fame during his living years. Even when the book pissed me off (which was often), I will admit that I never found Griet herself to be irritating (maybe because I kept fantasizing about Scarlett Johansson to save my brain from oozing through my ears?) -- but I was irked at how it felt like Chevalier was Mary Sue-ing her way through the character. The way that every man whom Griet encountered in the whole! damn! book! fawned over and flirted with her, the way she was presented as being uneducated but naturally clever just because she sometimes spoke her mind and separated her chopped veggies by color, the way Griet's family was painted as these simple, sheltered little Protestants who knew nothing of the world around them.... there was far too much black-or-white for me to take anything about the book seriously. I don't care enough to write about this book any more. So. Every other gripe I have notwithstanding, here are three of the book's most glaring failures: -- Vermeer, for being the central male character, remains an enigma. It's not that he's shrouded in an air of charming mystery but rather that his personality is nothing more than a bunch of suppositions that Griet "just knows" about him. -- Griet does not ever refer to Vermeer as anything other than "he" or "him". Not. Once. It made her sound like a starstruck teenybopper and it undermined any sense of genuine affection between the painter and his maid. -- The similes. Oh, dear sweet Baby Jesus, the similes. I now know that I have a limited tolerance for the number of trite comparisons of faces and voices to household objects that I encounter in one novel, all thanks to the time I spent reading this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    I CAN'T SHOUT "MEH!" LOUD ENOUGH!!! The popular fame obtained by this book and its subsequent movie version starring Scarlett Johansson... *two hours later* (Sorry, I was daydreaming)...had me expecting a tumultuous romance, a grab-ya and hold-ya reading experience. But this...I don't know what this was, but it wasn't exciting in the least. Girl With a Pearl Earring is about a maid, who becomes a model, who gets her picture painted and attracts the notice of a few men. The painter is famous, so tha I CAN'T SHOUT "MEH!" LOUD ENOUGH!!! The popular fame obtained by this book and its subsequent movie version starring Scarlett Johansson... *two hours later* (Sorry, I was daydreaming)...had me expecting a tumultuous romance, a grab-ya and hold-ya reading experience. But this...I don't know what this was, but it wasn't exciting in the least. Girl With a Pearl Earring is about a maid, who becomes a model, who gets her picture painted and attracts the notice of a few men. The painter is famous, so that's interesting. His patron is rich, of course, and expects to get what he wants, so there's your villain...kind of. Really, our protagonist's main enemy is jealousy. But that enemy's effectiveness is quashed by another force: money. And that leaves us with a less dramatically, emotionally affecting book. I read through to the end, expecting something bigger to happen the whole way, but even though it never did, I did still manage to get through it all, so there's something to be said for that. In the end, however, this book has to say about as much as does a picture of a beautiful woman. Not much. In related news... My overly sensitive and irrational wife would like me to take down my Johansson picture collage homage from the ceiling over our bed. But as I've explained, ScarJo needs the support of her #1 fan!

  8. 5 out of 5

    da AL

    Beautifully written and read aloud, this is an imagining of the possible life of the girl depicted in Vermeer's lovely painting.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ij

    Girl with a Pearl Earring Tracy Chevalier Plume, 2001 The “Girl with a Pearl Earring” is a painting done by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, around 1665. Not much is known about Vermeer which gives Chevalier creative license to develop what I believe is an interesting story. The painting is currently on exhibition in New York, at the Frick Collection. The exhibition is scheduled to be there until January 19, 2014. The story told in first person by Griet the protagonist starts in Delft (South Holland) Girl with a Pearl Earring Tracy Chevalier Plume, 2001 The “Girl with a Pearl Earring” is a painting done by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, around 1665. Not much is known about Vermeer which gives Chevalier creative license to develop what I believe is an interesting story. The painting is currently on exhibition in New York, at the Frick Collection. The exhibition is scheduled to be there until January 19, 2014. The story told in first person by Griet the protagonist starts in Delft (South Holland), in 1664, when she was sixteen (16). Griet is the daughter of a tile painter who has recently lost his sight. Griet parents hired her out as a maid to the Vermeer family. Griet was expected to help out her family by bringing home the fruits of her labor. In the first few pages of the book there is considerable change in this family. The father has lost his sight, her brother Frans (thirteen (13)) has left home to start an apprenticeship, now Griet is leaving home to work. Her younger sister Agnes is upset because she will be without both siblings. Griet is concerned because her family is Protestant and while the Vermeer’s are Catholic. When the Vermeers visits Griet’s house to determine her suitability for the job as maid they each looked at her differently. Catharina, Vermeer’s wife was concerned about Griet’s physical ability to perform the job while Vermeer noted how she had laid out the vegetable she was cutting up for a stew separating them by color, in a circular pattern. The Vermeers have five (5) children with one on the way. Vermeer’s mother-in-law, Maria Thins, also lives in the house. There are a couple of other servants who assisted in running the household, which gave room for more conflicts in the story. Griet’s main job is doing the laundry and cleaning Vermeer’s studio, but, she also helps with the kitchen and taking care of the children. Griet was challenged by many conflicts primarily with Catharina, Cornelia (one of the children), and Tanneke (a long term servant). She also has to fight off Vermeer’s patron, van Ruijven. He is married but has a reputation for chasing young maids. Griet later took on more responsibility which included purchasing food for the family. She noted that the Vermeer family use Pieter for their butcher. She was to shop for the family daily and purchase the meat for the day. Pieter had a son who showed interest in Griet, which was at first not returned. Griet showed interest in Vermeer’s painting and asked him questions which he seemed to encourage. He later showed her how he made his colors for his paintings. Griet later became the subject of a portrait which he was commissioned by van Ruijven to paint. I think the author struggled at times to write as a sixteen (16) year old would think. However, I enjoyed the book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    This was a pleasant diversion. This novel about a pretty maid who appeared in one of Vermeer's paintings is easy to slip into, didn't ask much of me, and kept me entertained for a few days. Is it great literature? No. Was it turned into a decent movie? Yes. Would I recommend the book? Depends. The plot skips along well enough, and I enjoyed how the author invented stories for some of Vermeer's famous paintings. My copy was a deluxe edition that included pictures of his artwork, which I appreciat This was a pleasant diversion. This novel about a pretty maid who appeared in one of Vermeer's paintings is easy to slip into, didn't ask much of me, and kept me entertained for a few days. Is it great literature? No. Was it turned into a decent movie? Yes. Would I recommend the book? Depends. The plot skips along well enough, and I enjoyed how the author invented stories for some of Vermeer's famous paintings. My copy was a deluxe edition that included pictures of his artwork, which I appreciated. However, the writing is competent but forgettable, and I didn't find any exceptional quotes to share. If you like light historical fiction or stories about artists, you may enjoy this. Or you could just watch the movie.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa J.

    Have you ever seen the painting Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer? No? Then, have a look at it: Isn't it beautiful? I hadn't seen it until a few months ago, in a class I was taking at the university called “film appreciation”. My professor wanted to show us the movie that goes by the name of this painting because he wanted to illustrate some concepts present in the movie and many other things. Well, at the end of the movie, in the credits (yes, I read the credits; besides, the music wa Have you ever seen the painting Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer? No? Then, have a look at it: Isn't it beautiful? I hadn't seen it until a few months ago, in a class I was taking at the university called “film appreciation”. My professor wanted to show us the movie that goes by the name of this painting because he wanted to illustrate some concepts present in the movie and many other things. Well, at the end of the movie, in the credits (yes, I read the credits; besides, the music was amazing), it said “based on the novel by Tracy Chevalier”, so I told my self “why, it was based upon a book, therefore I should read it”, and that's why I decided to read it. Girl with a Pearl Earring was an interesting book to read. First of all because it features a famous painter, Johannes Vermeer; secondly, because the story is narrated from their maid's point of view; and finally, because we get to see how society was back in the seventeenth century. The story follows Griet, a young girl who gets a job as a maid in Vermeer's house. Since she first came to the house, she is hated by her mistress, Tanneke (the other maid) and Cornelia (one of the uncountable children Catharina had), but she gained something far more precious. She gained Vermeer's interest. Our heroine –Griet— is one of those characters who develop in the course of the story. She starts from being completely innocent and shy, and grows from there. At the end, she's still innocent, but she has changed. She has a particular obsession in hiding her hair with a cap, because her not showing her hair makes her be herself. Without her cap, she is “one of those women”, and she is not like that. Vermeer is great. I loved him and his dedication. I also loved his relationship with Griet. It's not a romance, mind you, but it was obvious he cared for her, and the same applied the other way round. His personality was very intriguing too: He was always so calm and isolated from the world, even when there were many people in the same room as him. It always felt as if he was alone, and I don't know, that made him stand out. The writing is beautiful. Simply brilliant. You could feel as if you were present in 1600's Holland. The details were enough to please you, but they were not overwhelmingly enough to tire you. It was perfect. I'm glad I gave this book a try, because it surely deserved my reading it. A good fast read that will remain with me. I hope someday, when I'm older, I cross paths with this book again, because I would want to re-read it eventually.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Luís C.

    In the seventeenth century, in Delft, a thriving Dutch city, everything had a pre-established order. Rich and poor, Catholics and Protestants, bosses and servants, everyone knew their place. When Griet went to work at the home of the painter Johannes Vermeeer, she thought she knew his role: doing the housework and taking care of the painter's six children. No one expected, however, that her delicate manners, her insight and her fascination with the master's paintings would draw her inexorably in In the seventeenth century, in Delft, a thriving Dutch city, everything had a pre-established order. Rich and poor, Catholics and Protestants, bosses and servants, everyone knew their place. When Griet went to work at the home of the painter Johannes Vermeeer, she thought she knew his role: doing the housework and taking care of the painter's six children. No one expected, however, that her delicate manners, her insight and her fascination with the master's paintings would draw her inexorably into her world. But as the girl became an integral part of his work, the growing intimacy between them spread the tension and disappointment in the house and acquired the proportion of a scandal throughout the city. Tracy Chevalier had inspired by one of the most famous paintings of Vermeer - Girl With a Pearl Earring - to write this novel creating a beautiful and moving story about the abuse of innocence and the price of genius.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I wrote a paper on artistic expression using Girl with a Pearl Earring as a source, since it is a painting, a movie, and a book. It provided me fascinating fodder, a really good read, and a good grade on my paper. This is a wonderful study in repression and tiny details. There are some beautiful passages. I absolutely love the study done of the character of Vermeer. At one point, a character tells Griet (the imagined Girl with a Pearl Earring) to be careful, since Vermeer does not see her, but r I wrote a paper on artistic expression using Girl with a Pearl Earring as a source, since it is a painting, a movie, and a book. It provided me fascinating fodder, a really good read, and a good grade on my paper. This is a wonderful study in repression and tiny details. There are some beautiful passages. I absolutely love the study done of the character of Vermeer. At one point, a character tells Griet (the imagined Girl with a Pearl Earring) to be careful, since Vermeer does not see her, but rather the painting that she will make. The artist sees the world only as paintings, not as people. This is shown as incredibly selfish. He loves only those things that fit into his sense of light and shape and color and tone. He has no interest in that which does not add to his work. And it is for one reason only I will say that the movie was better than the book: that we are able to see his imaginings in front of him, rather than have them described. The movie was an endless series of portraits in motion, and a huge motif and focus on Vermeer's eyes. Colin Firth is known for his ability to play the quiet loner (see: Mr. Darcy) and it's brilliantly done here. Well cast, director. Well shot. It's one of my favorite movies. I do warn that it is incredibly quiet and intimate, and not a lot happens. Many people may be bored by it. But I think if you read this book in the first place you're the kind of person to like the movie.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    This book features one of my favorite book heroines of all time. Griet is competent, intelligent and observant. She possesses the laudable ability to maneuver 17th century Delft in a shrewd and practical manner while still retaining her love of art; finding beauty in even mundane things. Griet has a first-rate mind, concealed in the body of - essentially - a peasant. This poor maid is the only person who truly understands Vermeer's work. The relationship she develops with the painter is satisfyin This book features one of my favorite book heroines of all time. Griet is competent, intelligent and observant. She possesses the laudable ability to maneuver 17th century Delft in a shrewd and practical manner while still retaining her love of art; finding beauty in even mundane things. Griet has a first-rate mind, concealed in the body of - essentially - a peasant. This poor maid is the only person who truly understands Vermeer's work. The relationship she develops with the painter is satisfyingly subtle; a nuanced understanding which never falls into the trap of passionate declarations or overwrought pining. In fact, the thing I like about Griet the most is that she never even flirts with self-pity or self aggrandizement. She knows who she is. This book is the most successful(and in my opinion the best)of Tracy Chevalier's fictional works, which focus on the lives connected to the production of famous works of art. I do not recommend the movie, however. Scarlett Johanssen plays Griet like someone not used to housework, Colin Firth's Vermeer obtusely has puppy dog eyes for Scarlett, and Cillian Murphy is just too Metro to be believed.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Helen 2.0

    Girl With a Pearl Earring tells a short story using a lot of words. Even though the novel spans more than a decade, not too much of note happens besides Vermeer's painting. The book is more like an historical account of an ordinary life with occasional excitement sprinkled in. I got a little bored at times. I thought Tracy Chevalier spent too much time describing commonplace objects and scenes (washing clothes, dusting, shopping) and not enough time giving insight on Griet's character and the hou Girl With a Pearl Earring tells a short story using a lot of words. Even though the novel spans more than a decade, not too much of note happens besides Vermeer's painting. The book is more like an historical account of an ordinary life with occasional excitement sprinkled in. I got a little bored at times. I thought Tracy Chevalier spent too much time describing commonplace objects and scenes (washing clothes, dusting, shopping) and not enough time giving insight on Griet's character and the household drama. However I was never so bored that I considered DNFing this book. The plot was always moving forward, even if it was subtle. I adored the author's prose. She liked comparing intangible concepts to tangible objects. For example: "I could hear rich carpets in their voices, books and pearls and fur." Those similes and metaphors were very well done. Tracy Chevalier did a wonderful job of centering the story around Vermeer by only ever referring to him with pronouns. Griet would think of Vermeer solely as "he" (or very rarely "my master", but never his name) and it gave the impression that Vermeer was the only man in the world to Griet. "I did not mind the cold so much when he was there. When he stood close to me I could feel the warmth of his body." The author never outright stated Griet's feelings for Vermeer in the book, but made them clear through occasional hints: "I did not like to think of him that way, with his wife and children. I preferred to think of him alone in his studio. Or not alone, but only with me." There were many aspects of Girl With a Pearl Earring that the reader had to infer from hints. It wasn't an easy read but still a very good one.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Natasha!

    I've been hearing good things about this book for years. WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM, everyone I know?? I found the prose artificially concise (as if she had purposely limited her vocabulary by a factor of ten, or as if the narrator was Dutch but just learning English), the characters completely flat and unbelievable, and the rise in drama both ill-explained and uninteresting. I did not like or feel compassionate toward a single character, I didn't feel any catharsis about ANYTHING, and I understood na I've been hearing good things about this book for years. WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM, everyone I know?? I found the prose artificially concise (as if she had purposely limited her vocabulary by a factor of ten, or as if the narrator was Dutch but just learning English), the characters completely flat and unbelievable, and the rise in drama both ill-explained and uninteresting. I did not like or feel compassionate toward a single character, I didn't feel any catharsis about ANYTHING, and I understood nary a motivation. Chevalier set up the Vermeer household as a jealous, gossipy, backstabbing mess, yes -- but she shouldn't have expected that to explain why the main character felt she'd "be ruined" if the lady of the house found out that she was excelling at her job. And also, good god, please don't over-explain every single metaphor, image, and implication. "The butcher said one thing, but I think he may have been implying another -- something I was meant to catch onto. I just wonder what it could be! Oh, perhaps..." just doesn't sit so well with me. I understand what the butcher said. If the narrator is as unflinchingly, humorlessly intelligent and perceptive as she is made out to be, she understands too. This is literature-lite. I kept turning the pages, and I did enjoy the time spent on my butt, eating cookie dough, with the book in my lap -- but the awkward prose never let me engage with the story enough to stop criticizing it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Pink

    I loved this. I don't say that often enough about a book. I was impressed with the writing, completely invested in the story and pleased with the ending. It's not easy to tick all those boxes, especially in a relatively short story. What more can I say.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    An utter joy to read. Really engaging, historically interesting, with strong characterisation and beautiful writing. I will definitely be picking up more by her!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kandice

    This book is gorgeously written. I love that Chevalier makes up all these lives to give a back story to just this one painting. Well, that's not true. We actually see the painting of three or four of Vermeer's 35 through Griet's eyes. I know that I had to constantly pull up images of his paintings as I read to actually see what Griet was describing. I must also say that I have never been much of a Vermeer fan, but having read about Vermeer through Griet's eyes, I see his paintings as much more c This book is gorgeously written. I love that Chevalier makes up all these lives to give a back story to just this one painting. Well, that's not true. We actually see the painting of three or four of Vermeer's 35 through Griet's eyes. I know that I had to constantly pull up images of his paintings as I read to actually see what Griet was describing. I must also say that I have never been much of a Vermeer fan, but having read about Vermeer through Griet's eyes, I see his paintings as much more complex and studied than I had before. I hope Chevalier got the process right, because it would be a pity if he actually painted some other way. Vermeer hires Griet as a house girl for his wife and five children. The Vermeer/Thin family are Catholics and women of that standing do not nurse their own children so there are likely to be more and more children. Griet is sorely needed. Vermeer and his wife Catherina come to Griet's home to meet her and the initial meeting comes across more as his hiring her for his own mysterious "pleasure", but when Griet arrives in their home she truly is a house girl. Nothing else. It takes much time for Vermeer to begin to use Griet to not only clean his painting studio, but to eventually run painting errands, mix colors, help him "see" the painting in hiding and eventually to model for him. Griet is the girl in the pearl earring. An earring, in a previously unpierced ear, belonging to Catherina. Talk about a scandal in the making. There is more to the story. Griet's family falls on sad and hard times. Griet is wooed and eventually married by a nice young man, but none of that matters. The painting is the thing and Chevalier brings this (and other) paintings to life in a way I have never before experienced. I would compare this book to the Doctor Who episode "Vincent and the Doctor". We care about the art because we are made to care about the artist. Chevalier does a beautiful job of this.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dorie - Traveling Sister :)

    Story of a girl who goes to work as a maid in the Vermeer household. She is entranced with his paintings and also with his "mystique". His wife is jealous of Greit's beautify immediately. Vermeer's patron, a sleazy, domineering man, eventually orders Vermeer to paint a picture of Greit for himself. The portrait is done. Greit enjoys sitting for her Master and also assisting him with mixing paints, etc. She begins to feel affection for him and thinks he feels the same. There is also a "butcher's" s Story of a girl who goes to work as a maid in the Vermeer household. She is entranced with his paintings and also with his "mystique". His wife is jealous of Greit's beautify immediately. Vermeer's patron, a sleazy, domineering man, eventually orders Vermeer to paint a picture of Greit for himself. The portrait is done. Greit enjoys sitting for her Master and also assisting him with mixing paints, etc. She begins to feel affection for him and thinks he feels the same. There is also a "butcher's" son who is in love with her and she eventually marries him. In the end Vermeer's wife orders Greit out of the house when she discovers the portrait. I enjoyed the book but had hoped there would be a more substantial and fulfilling ending. Fans of Vermeer and historical fiction will enjoy this book. I love the actual painting itself and have a small copy of it in my home.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Marian

    I enjoyed this book. The story is subtle making it the perfect example that less is more in a story. Some of my thoughts as I read: 1. The society of the time classified everyone as a "have" or a "have not". For a girl who was in between it was a matter of time before she was forced to one side or the other. She never fit in either world. 2. Clearly this girl had a raw, undeveloped talent for art. Had she lived in a different century would she have been the artist instead of the muse? Her role w I enjoyed this book. The story is subtle making it the perfect example that less is more in a story. Some of my thoughts as I read: 1. The society of the time classified everyone as a "have" or a "have not". For a girl who was in between it was a matter of time before she was forced to one side or the other. She never fit in either world. 2. Clearly this girl had a raw, undeveloped talent for art. Had she lived in a different century would she have been the artist instead of the muse? Her role was so defined she didn't even question the possibility herself. 3. The fictional Vermeer was a coward. I hope the real one was not. 4. I didn't blame the wife. Would you? She had eleven children and a husband who cruelly excluded her from his art. 5. Be careful of the passion you feel for a painter with OCD tendencies when you're eighteen--it never lasts. 6. She should have kept the earrings and worn them with pride. 7. The painting is captivating. 8. I would have given it 5 stars if it weren't for the groping.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    An evocative look at life in Delft, Holland in the 1600’s. A quietly gripping tale of what might have been. The story is a fictionalised account of the circumstances surrounding the painting of Vermeer’s masterpiece ‘Girl with a pearl earring’. Griet, the central character, is a strong, honourable, modest and likeable character and the events that overtake her, because of the sensibilities of the age, are tense and exciting. The writing is smooth, exact and fluent. I would often flick to the cove An evocative look at life in Delft, Holland in the 1600’s. A quietly gripping tale of what might have been. The story is a fictionalised account of the circumstances surrounding the painting of Vermeer’s masterpiece ‘Girl with a pearl earring’. Griet, the central character, is a strong, honourable, modest and likeable character and the events that overtake her, because of the sensibilities of the age, are tense and exciting. The writing is smooth, exact and fluent. I would often flick to the cover to look at the painting, adding extra life to this great novel.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Crystal Starr Light

    Gorgeous painting, deeper appreciation of art; mediocre, annoying book This is a book that fictionalizes what might have been behind the famous Vermeer painting, "Girl with a Pearl Earring". Griet's family is destitute, and now she must work as a maid in the Vermeer household, cleaning up the famous painter's workstation. Slowly, she grows more interested in her master, and her master in her. I am not what you would call an artsy person. I make an effort to decorate my home nicely, I can pick out Gorgeous painting, deeper appreciation of art; mediocre, annoying book This is a book that fictionalizes what might have been behind the famous Vermeer painting, "Girl with a Pearl Earring". Griet's family is destitute, and now she must work as a maid in the Vermeer household, cleaning up the famous painter's workstation. Slowly, she grows more interested in her master, and her master in her. I am not what you would call an artsy person. I make an effort to decorate my home nicely, I can pick out nice yarns for knitting and crocheting (according to a pattern), and I am fairly decent at picking clothes that don't clash, but that is as far as my "artistic abilities" go. You wouldn't find me in an art museum for fun, unless my sister, the artsy one in the family, drug me there. So when I say that this book made me look up Vermeer, analyze his work, and actually grow more appreciative of it, I think it's a somewhat big deal. And, though I really hate to say this, that is the biggest reason I am giving this book two stars. Because a book that makes me look up a historical figure, investigate his work, and actually start to like it deserves to have SOME kudos. If you take that aspect of the book away, you are left with a medicore book, populated with annoying/cliched characters with virtually no plot to speak of. Griet is our protagonist, and there were several times I was hoping she would drown in her washing or set herself on fire or accidentally fall between the butcher and his blade. I understand she's young, but I didn't realize she was A) a 10 year old child (she acts way younger, more sheltered, and more immature than her 17 years would indicate), B) a spoiled, wealthy child suddenly thrown into poverty (though her father lost his trade, I never got the impression they were wealthy before this book), or C) hideously emo (she tends to wangst about not seeing her parents, about the "secrets" she has to hide, and she faints after piercing her ear). Her first day working for the Vermeers, she whines that the first time she smiled all day is when she saw a familiar butcher's face. Booohooo. She is stupid, keeping an expensive comb anywhere within a 12 mile radius of a bratty child who wants to wreak havoc on Griet's life. She is dense as a brick, selfish, ungrateful, and unemotional (she is never shown loving or caring at all for Pieter, which makes the ending seem weird). And yet somehow, this girl garners the attention of THREE men and the hatred of SEVERAL women. She's better at cleaning, cooking, caring for Vermeer's studio, making paint, buying meat, AND arranging items in Vermeer's paintings (yes, it is SHE that comes up with the earring idea for the titular painting and rearranges the cloth for another painting). Griet, come on down, you've won the Mary Sue of the Month award! The other characters are two dimensional at best. Catharina is a b!tch, mean to Griet just because. I am really sick and tired of this cliche: of having the female of the house hate the "poor girl" just because, well, that's what the female of the house is supposed to do, I guess. I ended up feeling SORRY for Catharina, because I felt she was desperately trying to win her husband's attention by having so many children. Cornelia is a demon; her actions venture way beyond "Terrible Child" into "Spawn of the Devil". One character dies just to include some more angst and a thin relation to the Plague. Vermeer is a complete enigma. I can understand retaining some mystery around him, but when you finish the book with as many questions as you began, something is wrong. I have no idea what he saw in Griet, how he felt towards her, and who he was. Van Ruijven is a stereotypical CAD; Tenneke is stupid (she can't tell when Griet is sucking up to her?? Yeah, right!). Pieter started out a nice guy, but when he feels up Griet against her will, I just felt cold. Their entire relationship is awkward: he seems really keen on her, very nice, yet she wants nothing to do with him. But then, after Vermeer sees her hair loose, she is okay with having sex with Pieter??? Huh??? The story is so bland and stereotypical, it's absurd. How many times have we seen the "X must take a job because X's father/provider can't work" or something along these lines? It wouldn't be bad if there was SOMETHING to make it different, but Griet never gives an indication of what she is missing out on nor does her story make this plot line interesting. Instead, all she does is whine about how rough her hands are, how much her back hurts, how much work she has to do, how bloody the butcher is, how all the women hate her, etc. And what makes Griet so special that Vermeer pays her any mind? I got a glimpse when Griet arranges vegetables, and I actually liked a scene where Griet and Vermeer discussed colors in white, but other than that, there is nothing between them. Well, there IS Griet's feelings for Vermeer, but because I saw so little of Vermeer, I always got the impression she had a major crush on Vermeer and he was just smitten with her in an artistic sense. As for all the secrets...come on, people, what gives? Why is it such a big deal that Griet helping Vermeer create paint? Why do they go to such efforts to keep it a secret? Why the big deal about the painting Vermeer does of Griet? Is it because of the possibility of an affair? If so, why did Catharina have no problem with Vermeer painting the butcher's daughter or van Ruijven's family? Vermeer is painting her to get paid; you would think Catharina would have enough sense to be okay with that, but apparently, no! (In fact, if she were a REALLY interesting character, she might see Griet's painting potential and FORCE her to sit so they could make more money!) If people actually TALKED to each other, instead of hiding stupid things like this, there wouldn't BE a story. The ending actually isn't bad. I liked how she moved on and wasn't still harping (too much) on Vermeer. Though there were still a few things that bugged me (SPOILER FRIENDLY: her marriage, what she did with Vermeer's final gift to her). I suppose if you are really curious about Vermeer and his background and don't mind a fluffy, almost Young Adult approach to it, this is your book. But if Mary Sues, flat characters, and an almost non-existent story hold you back, you may want to skip. I will give this book credit: it was a fast listen (I "read" on audiobook) and made me more interested in the artist. UPDATE 9/12/11: I recently watched the movie starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth and was pleased at how well it was adapted to movie format. This isn't something I often say, but I definitely preferred the movie over the book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lavinia

    I don't know if it has to do with my vacation days or the fact that I really, but really enjoyed reading this novel, but is was almost impossible to put it down, even though I'm not a big fan of historical fiction and I've watched the film 2 times already. Speaking of it, I'm sure there were many details left out, it's hard now to tell which, but it was definitely an advantage to put a face on the characters. My interest in art over the years was quite inconsistent and I started by liking the mod I don't know if it has to do with my vacation days or the fact that I really, but really enjoyed reading this novel, but is was almost impossible to put it down, even though I'm not a big fan of historical fiction and I've watched the film 2 times already. Speaking of it, I'm sure there were many details left out, it's hard now to tell which, but it was definitely an advantage to put a face on the characters. My interest in art over the years was quite inconsistent and I started by liking the modernists and surrealists, and by the time I met Vermeer I considered the Dutch masters (and many others for that matter) to be too old and classical for my taste. It was only in the last decade that I acknowledged them and still cannot put my finger on when I began to like Vermeer. Truth be told, Girl with a pearl earring is not a painting I particularly like, I tend to favour those that are sunlit, usually set in front of a window, like this, this or this, which later led me to love in the most absolute way the Danish trio, Ilsted, Holsoe and Hammershøi and their "Sunshine and silent rooms". But back to the book. I don't remember if the Protestants VS Catholics issue was much focused on in the film version, but it was quite interesting to follow it throughout the book, and from what I've read, Chevalier's first novel went even deeper into it. I terribly liked how Vermeer was always he, him or his for Griet and the Master and Servant relationship was very much to my taste! And I'm back to the film: having Colin's face and voice in mind really helped, sometimes my imagination needs help with faces but mostly voices. And now I must choose something as gripping as this or else I will end up struggling to finish Fry's memoir.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    Finished: Excellent writing. Each character was portrayed with depth. I kept thinking that I should quote this line or that, but this was impossible without giving spoilers. You must read the book to get into each of these characters and to submerge yourself into their lives. The book is not only about thes principal characters but also about what motivates an artist to create. Who is an artist? Isn't it someone who simply cannot stop himself from painting, or playing music, or sculpting shapes, Finished: Excellent writing. Each character was portrayed with depth. I kept thinking that I should quote this line or that, but this was impossible without giving spoilers. You must read the book to get into each of these characters and to submerge yourself into their lives. The book is not only about thes principal characters but also about what motivates an artist to create. Who is an artist? Isn't it someone who simply cannot stop himself from painting, or playing music, or sculpting shapes, or catching just the right image on the film, or simply a dancer who physically CANNOT stop dancing..... There is an urge within that is stronger than everything else. I am so sorry to close the book's covers and leave their world. Through page 152: I will start with a quote and then explain my thoughts: "Whatever she saw or understood, she decided it was time to stir the pot once more (sir up trouble). For no particular reason but a vague distrust, she did not like me." People tend to feel more at ease with some rather than others. All of us tend to like some particular type of person over another. There is nothing strange about that. But my question is why do some people have to cause trouble for those they for some inherent reason simply don't like? The movie was a total failure in its ability to convey the causes of the characters' emotional undercurrents. It is the examination of these undercurrents that makes this story so marvelous. The movie was very pretty, yes, but that's all. I remember specifically leaving more confused and empty after seeing the movie. Sort of with the question: what was that all about on my lips?! The book has enticed me to go to Delft and see the city where Vermeer worked. It is only 1.5hr from here. This is a "must-do" now. I love the book. I wonder what I will find out. And OMG some people are yucks! Through page 106: What is the relationship between Vermeer and the maid Griet? THAT is the primary question underlieing this book. This is made clear in the foreword. It arises b/c the painter has managed to make the expression of Griet so intriguing - is she sad, thoughtful, enticing or laughing. Look at the painting and you can see several emotions. So what is going on between the master and the model - some relationship must exist, but what exactly is the nature of that relationship? Known historical facts are lacking. We can only hypotehsize and make conjectures, but thinking about the possibilities is the impetus that caused Tracy Chevalier to write this book. Here follows a quote: "Sleeping in the attic made it easier for me to work there(near the studio), but I still had little time to do so.I could get up earlier and go to bed later, but sometimes he gave me so much work that I had to find a way to go up in the afternoons, when normally I sat by the fire and sewed. I began to complain of my not being able to see my stitchinging the dim kitchen, and needing the light of my bright attic room. .....I began to get use to lying." "Once he suggested that I sleep in the attic, he left it to me to arrange my duties so I could work for him. He never helped by lying for me, or asking me if I had time to spare for him. He gave me instructions in the morning and expected them to be done the next day." "The colors themselves made up for the troubles I had hiding what I was doing. I came to love grinding the things he brought from the apothecary....I learned that the finer the materials were ground, the deeper the color....Making it and the other colors was magical." From this quote you taste the simplicity, the calmness of the language. You see the love and interest Griet had for the paints and their colors. Questions arise about Vermeer - how could he fail to understand that his additional work demands pushed Griet into an awkward position and even jeopardized her employment in the household? Through page 36: You are right there, in Delft, Holland , mid-1600s. You smell it - the food cooking, the linseed oil in the painting room; you feel the fabrics, the air on your skin; you hear the sound of washing and ironing and cooking pots boiling and children playing and you see all the details you've seen when looking at paintings of this time period. Absolutely marvelous depiction of all the household items, market squares and canals and the paintings hung in every room of Vermeer's house. You feel Griet's fear of the paintings depicting Catholic beliefs - she is Protestant and there remain few Catholics in Delft after the Spanish were defeated. You know I was putting off reading this b/c I was scared that I would be disappointed. Everybody praises this book and as long as I didn't read it I could stick to the belief that I would probably like it too. I didn't want to loose that hope, so I put it off! Dumb huh?! Well, I am not at all disappointed. Make sure you read the deluxe paperback version; it has beautiful pictures and an excellent foreword by the author.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Love this story, love Vermeer's work. Over 2 years a quiet and obedient maid named Griet goes to live as a servant for Johannes Vermeer and his family. It is hard for Griet not to like this good and obedient protagonist, for she struggles with universal yearnings such as love and an escape from poverty. Her life is a fairly solitary one as she finds herself growing apart from her family while living as an outsider in another's home. The Vermeer family, with the exception of the painter himself, Love this story, love Vermeer's work. Over 2 years a quiet and obedient maid named Griet goes to live as a servant for Johannes Vermeer and his family. It is hard for Griet not to like this good and obedient protagonist, for she struggles with universal yearnings such as love and an escape from poverty. Her life is a fairly solitary one as she finds herself growing apart from her family while living as an outsider in another's home. The Vermeer family, with the exception of the painter himself, is not fond of the strange Protestant girl; and as Maria Thins, the grandmother, says, "Never so much trouble with a maid before." The real trouble comes, however, when the artist takes a liking to the young girl and allows her to assist him in his work. Griet is granted the privilege that no other family member has -- helping Vermeer in his studio. Not even his wife Catharina is allowed to enter the studio, so this arrangement causes a great deal of tension within the household. Griet begins her work by cleaning still life objects that Vermeer will paint later that day. She also is given the responsibility of grinding the paints and even purchasing the colors from the apothecary. As if these "privileges" were not causing enough disquietude within the family, matters only get worse when Vermeer agrees, at a friend's request, to paint Griet. The moments in which Vermeer paints Griet are the most spellbinding of the book. We feel Griet's nervous emotions as she sits as still as possible under the close eye of the awe-inspiring man she has grown to love. Her inner struggle is augmented by jealous Pieter, the butcher's son, who has made no secret of his intention to marry Griet. The young maid, however, seems devoted only to her master and obeys his every wish. When he tells her to wear his wife's pearl earrings for the painting, Griet agrees even though she knows it could lead to her downfall. (Also really liked the 2003 film starring Colin Firth and Scarlet Johansson.) Vermeer (1632-1675) left no more than 36 paintings - and the attribution of a couple of those is in doubt - and no drawings. Vermeer was not a totally unsuccessful artist. He became a head of the Guild of St Luke in Delft and his paintings fetched high prices, but he died in debt, and his Catholic wife Catharina Bolnes had to declare herself bankrupt.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    Enjoyable though thoroughly disposable historical novel. Central character is a servant in the house of golden age Dutch painter Jan Vermeer and is used as the model for the painting 'Girl with a pearl earring'. Plainly the story has a niceness to it - the private story behind the public painting, but doesn't have anything more to offer than that. In a way I think it demonstrates the risks or the problem of historical fiction - which hating a void inserts itself in the lives of the obscure, creat Enjoyable though thoroughly disposable historical novel. Central character is a servant in the house of golden age Dutch painter Jan Vermeer and is used as the model for the painting 'Girl with a pearl earring'. Plainly the story has a niceness to it - the private story behind the public painting, but doesn't have anything more to offer than that. In a way I think it demonstrates the risks or the problem of historical fiction - which hating a void inserts itself in the lives of the obscure, creating a story, or explanations often were there is obscurity or indeed silence. Such stories like a Pseudoscience may not be disprovable - because so many lives are silent - but that does not mean they are true or plausible. So for me this is less fun than Vermeer and His Milieu: A Web of Social History and I don't think that even I can claim that the book inspired this although (view spoiler)[I was amused by this article (hide spoiler)]

  28. 5 out of 5

    Duane

    My favorite reading genre's are historical fiction, art and art history, and romance; well, this book has all of these elements which made it a treat for me. I have read most of Tracy Chevalier's work so I appreciate her ability to craft a good story. After his death Vermeer and even his paintings fell into obscurity for two centuries, so Chevalier had a free hand to paint the fictional picture of the artist and the story surrounding the painting, The Girl With a Pearl Earring. She did so beauti My favorite reading genre's are historical fiction, art and art history, and romance; well, this book has all of these elements which made it a treat for me. I have read most of Tracy Chevalier's work so I appreciate her ability to craft a good story. After his death Vermeer and even his paintings fell into obscurity for two centuries, so Chevalier had a free hand to paint the fictional picture of the artist and the story surrounding the painting, The Girl With a Pearl Earring. She did so beautifully and with respect, to the muse, the artist, and the painting. The only romance in the novel was hinted at, but sometimes that makes it even more endearing. When you look at the face in the painting, it is easy to imagine it is a look of love that she is returning to the painter.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    What a visual little book. The need for Griet to be obedient and silent as a girl, a housemaid, and later as a model, makes visual observation her key feature as the narrator. I did see the movie when it came out....it was slow and beautifully filmed....a perfect interpretation of this novel. I also enjoyed scrutinizing all the Vermeer paintings described in the book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cecily

    Imagined story of Vermeer's model. Vividly evocative of time and place. Outwardly, little happens in terms of plot, but really everything (and everyone) changes. Captivating, simple, but hidden depths. I'm glad I read it before the film came out - even though the film is good.

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