Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

This is the second novel I have read by Tracy Chevalier, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Here is the synopsis from Amazon on Girl With A Pearl Earring:

The Dutch painter Vermeer has remained one of the great enigmas of 17th-century Dutch art. While little is known of his personal life, his extraordinary paintings of natural and domestic life, with their subtle play of light and colour, have come to define the Dutch Golden Age. The mysterious portrait of the anonymous Girl with a Pearl Earring has fascinated art historians for centuries, and it is this magnetic painting that lies at the heart of Tracy Chevalier’s second novel of the same title.

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. At times the relationship between servant and master seems a little anachronistic, but Girl with a Pearl Earring does contain a final delicious twist in its tail. Chevalier acknowledges her debt to Simon Schama’s classic study of the Dutch Golden Age, The Embarrassment of Riches, and the novel comes hard on the heels of Deborah Moggach’s similar tale of domestic intrigue behind the easel of 17th-century Dutch painting, Tulip Fever.

Girl with a Pearl Earring is a fascinating piece of speculative historical fiction, but how much more can novelists extract from the Dutch Golden Age? –Jerry Brotton –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

I really enjoyed this book. It was fast-paced and gripping. There were no boring parts and I read this book so quickly.

Chevalier’s descriptions were amazing. I could easily picture the marketplace and the eight-tipped star, as well as the house the Vermeer’s lived in and his studio. The book was written in a way that made me feel like I was there watching the events unfold before my very eyes.

There were characters I liked, such as Pieter the son. I loved how he sought out Griet and never gave up. And characters I disliked, such as van Ruijven who believed he could have whatever he wanted because he was rich. I found myself getting angry at him as I read the book, which is good, as a book should spark emotions in the reader.

My only complaint was the ending – it was a little abrupt for my liking. I still have questions that I would have liked answered, but with the ending as it is, that won’t happen.

This was a quick, enjoyable read.

9/10

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