Little is known about the 17th-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. However, his paintings of domestic life during his time defined his career. In using a unique play on light and texture, Vermeer’s works of art have caught the attention of art lovers for centuries. One of his most famous paintings, Girl with a Pearl Earring, is the center of Tracy Chevalier’s book. Chevalier uses the girl in the picture, Griet, and paints her life as a servant during the 1660s in Delft, Holland.
If you’re looking for a quick recommendation, yes, I would definitely recommend this book!
What I loved most about this book was the writing. It’s simple and clean, but beautiful. Much like the painting it’s named after. Simple, but striking. The summary always sounded a bit boring, so I put it off for a while. But eventually, I gave in, mostly because it’s a shorter book. There were definitely some parts that moved more slowly than others. And I think that’s why I gave it the four stars when I read it. The pacing felt a bit slow sometimes.
But the unique relationship between Vermeer and Griet is fascinating. There is a certain tension between the two as she sits while he paints. Although I’m not in the same room, I swear I could almost feel the electricity flowing between the two of them. The constant question was, will they act on the tension?
Vermeer himself is a fascinating character because he always feels separated from other characters. He seemed uncommon, so he always stood out in the crowd. I think Chevalier created such a unique character from a famous historical figure because so little is known about him. What few facts we have about his life were gleaned out of legal documents. Of course, even less is known about the subject of his painting, Griet. Chevalier took an idea of what might have happened and ran with it. And did a wonderful job with it.
This book was adapted into a movie, but I don’t think it was nearly as good as the book. There is such a subtle beauty to the book that I don’t think was quite captured in the movie. But watching the movie after finishing the book is always a great way to reward yourself for finishing a book!
Overall, I would recommend this to a busy mom. It’s sure to transport you to the past. To a time so different from the present that it seems almost alien. The pacing can be a bit slow, but it’s a quick read.
Four out of five stars
If you enjoyed my review of Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, you might also like Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. Check out my review!
If you’re interested in purchasing Girl with a Pearl Earring, here are some quick links to buy the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And, if you’re interested to see what others think, here’s the link to the book on Goodreads.