Girl with a Pearl Earring
With precisely 35 canvases to his credit, the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer represents one of the great enigmas of 17th-century art. The meager facts of his biography have been gleaned from a handful of legal documents. Yet Vermeer's extraordinary paintings of domestic life, with their subtle play of light and texture, have come to define the Dutch golden age. His portrait of the anonymous Girl with a Pearl Earring has exerted a particular fascination 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 centers on Vermeer's prosperous Delft household during the 1660s. When Griet, the novel's quietly perceptive heroine, is hired as a servant, turmoil follows. First, the 16-year-old narrator becomes increasingly intimate with her master. Then Vermeer employs her as his assistant--and ultimately has Griet sit for him as a model.

Girl with a Pearl Earring Details

TitleGirl with a Pearl Earring
Author
FormatPaperback
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 28th, 2017
PublisherPlume/Penguin
ISBN0452287022
ISBN-139780452287020
Number of pages233 pages
Rating
GenreHistorical Fiction, Fiction, Historical, Art, Classics, Romance

Girl with a Pearl Earring Review

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    February 5, 2015
    “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 EarringWhen 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 “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 EarringWhen 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.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
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  • Daniel
    July 20, 2007
    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.
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  • Kate
    July 29, 2007
    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.
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  • Jason Koivu
    February 29, 2012
    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!
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  • Madeleine
    June 3, 2008
    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.
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  • Vane J.
    September 12, 2014
    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.
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  • Diane
    February 18, 2016
    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.
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  • Kelly
    June 19, 2007
    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.
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  • Helen 2.0
    April 3, 2016
    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.
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  • kian
    July 6, 2016
    توی این داستان چیزی که خیلی موج میزد، «زندگی» بود.... یه ویژگی برجسته که این کتاب داشت این بود که به طرز ساده ای، روون بود... یعنی انگار نشستی روبروی راوی... اون داره برات ماجراهای زندگیش رو تعریف میکنه.... و به قدری صمیمی و پشت هم و ساده روایت میکنه که تو وقتی به خودت میای میبینی غرق در حرفهاش شدی و توی یه زمان خیلی کوتاه کل کتاب رو تموم کردی......... خیلی خودمونی از فقر ، خانواده، سختیها، دوریها، مرگ، عشق، و.... حرف میزد........ باید بگم دلم برای راوی میسوخت... یه غم خاصی بود تو زندگیش و نرسید توی این داستان چیزی که خیلی موج میزد، «زندگی» بود.... یه ویژگی برجسته که این کتاب داشت این بود که به طرز ساده ای، روون بود... یعنی انگار نشستی روبروی راوی... اون داره برات ماجراهای زندگیش رو تعریف میکنه.... و به قدری صمیمی و پشت هم و ساده روایت میکنه که تو وقتی به خودت میای میبینی غرق در حرفهاش شدی و توی یه زمان خیلی کوتاه کل کتاب رو تموم کردی......... خیلی خودمونی از فقر ، خانواده، سختیها، دوریها، مرگ، عشق، و.... حرف میزد........ باید بگم دلم برای راوی میسوخت... یه غم خاصی بود تو زندگیش و نرسیدنهاش که تا آخر داستان باعث میشد قوی ترین حسی که تو من به وجود میاره اندوه باشه....سبک نوشتن نویسنده هم دوست داشتنی بود... یه جاهایی بعضی جملاتش رو بارها و بارها میخوندم... یه دفعه حرفهای غریبی رو توی دهان راوی میگذاشت که خیلی با فکر و دل آدم بازی میکرد......جمعا دوست داشتم کتاب رو... و اندوهش هنوز همراهمه..........حکایت نرسیدن ها....
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  • Anna
    January 11, 2008
    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.
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  • Natasha!
    April 10, 2008
    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.
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  • Pink
    March 6, 2014
    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.
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  • Kandice
    May 17, 2016
    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.
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  • Ij
    July 10, 2011
    Girl with a Pearl EarringTracy ChevalierPlume, 2001The “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 EarringTracy ChevalierPlume, 2001The “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.
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  • Zahra
    August 3, 2015
    دوست نداشتم انقدر زود تموم شه :(((از اونجایی که عکس این نقاشی روی میزم هست و هرروز میدیمش،خوندن این کتاب و ماجراش خیلی برام جالب بود.و زیبایی قلم نویسنده و توصیف جزییات واقعا لذت بخشش کرده بود
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  • Marian
    January 27, 2009
    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.
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  • Crystal Starr Light
    October 28, 2010
    Gorgeous painting, deeper appreciation of art; mediocre, annoying bookThis 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 bookThis 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.
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  • Carol
    July 9, 2010
    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.
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  • Lavinia
    April 14, 2012
    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.
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  • Chrissie
    March 30, 2009
    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.
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  • Misha
    June 27, 2010
    Most of us know the painting, if not by name, but by sight at least. You might have even watched the movie starring Colin Firth (!!) and Scarlett Johanssen. Many of us might have heard of Johannes Vermeer, the artist behind this painting. But have you ever wondered, who is the girl in the painting? What is her story? What lies behind that indecipherable expression?Ever since I read The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant, I have loved books which involve art and artists. I don't claim to have much kn Most of us know the painting, if not by name, but by sight at least. You might have even watched the movie starring Colin Firth (!!) and Scarlett Johanssen. Many of us might have heard of Johannes Vermeer, the artist behind this painting. But have you ever wondered, who is the girl in the painting? What is her story? What lies behind that indecipherable expression?Ever since I read The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant, I have loved books which involve art and artists. I don't claim to have much knowledge about art, but as a layperson I can say that the book, Girl With a Pearl Earring is evocative and mesmerizing.Johannes, Jan or Johan Vermeer (1632-1675) was a Dutch painter who specialized in exquisite, domestic interior scenes of middle class life.The painting Girl with a Pearl Earring is one of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer's masterworks and as the name implies, uses a pearl earring for a focal point. Today the painting is kept in the Mauritshuis gallery in the Hague. It is sometimes referred to as "the Mona Lisa of the North" or "the Dutch Mona Lisa". (Source: Wikipedia)Girl with a Pearl Earing by Tracy Chevalier is the story of Griet, a young girl who is sent to work at Vermeer's house as a maid. Her father is no longer able to support the family, following an accident that leaves him blind. As a result, Griet is uprooted from all that she has known to a completely unfamiliar environment.Griet is in charge of cleaning Vermeer's studio, a place where hardly anyone, not even his wife Catharina, is allowed to enter. For Griet, the studio is like a mysterious and enchanted land. Even before she has met him, she is drawn to Vermeer and his paintings. Soon, Vermeer is enamored by this quiet and scared young girl. Thus, starts the journey towards Vermeer's most celebrated painting.Girl with a Pearl Earring is a fascinating portrayal of the mystery behind the painting. Somehow, reading this book, makes the painting more magical and beautiful in my eyes. Perhaps, the actual story will forever remain unknown but Tracy Chevalier's take is enough to satisfy one's curiosity about the painting.I felt for Griet right from the start. Griet, in her innocence, unknowingly causes conflict within Vermeer's family as the artist's obsession with her grows. At the same time, she's as captivated by him, as he by her. "He saw things in a way that others did not, so that a city I had lived in all my life seemed a different place, so that a woman became beautiful with the light on her face."One of my only problems with the book is that the author fails to create a very vivid portrayal of 17th century Delft. However, there's so much eloquence and passion in the way the author describes Vermeer, his paintings and his relationship with Griet, that it's easy to overlook any flaws. The book's premise is what won me over and kept me engaged throughout.One of the best parts about the book are the diverse characters. There's the mysterious Vermeer, his jealous bitter wife, Catharina and his powerful, controlling mother-in-law, Maria. The author has depicted the power-play, class system, poverty, the terrible conditions of the poor, religious prejudices and women's position in 17th century Holland. It may seem like a simple story, but it has so many complexities.There's so much left unsaid between Griet and Vermeer that it breaks your heart. Till the end I kept on asking myself - What is it between the two of them? It did not seem like love to me, but more like an intense longing and desire. I think everyone will have their own take on this.The movie, I think, captures the beauty and sensuality of the book. It's not perfect, but it's much better than most book-to-movie adaptations. According to the author : "I love the film. It is like and yet not like the book, rather in the way sisters resemble each other yet also have distinctive personalities. As you would expect of a film about Vermeer, it is ravishing to look at – each scene beautifully lit and composed, almost like a succession of would-be Vermeer paintings, with some Rembrandts and de Hoochs thrown in for fun. Colin Firth is excellent as Vermeer, managing to retain the painter’s mystery even as we get to know him. But the film belongs to Scarlett Johannson, who is only 18 and has maybe 60 words of dialogue, yet packs so much into her luminous face that I couldn’t take my eyes off her." (Source: Tracy Chevalier's Website)Overall:An entrancing take on the story of the girl in Vermeer's most famous paintingRecommended:Yes! Historical Fiction fans will enjoy this.
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  • Fatemeh Nazari
    March 6, 2017
    اعتراف ميكنم كه تا ٢٠-٣٠ صفحه ى اول كتاب خيلى جذبش نشدم. دليل اين همه تعريف رو هم نميفهميدم. ولى وقتى بيشتر پيش رفتم فهميدم چقدر فوق العاده ست. از طرفى دلم ميخواست ادامه ى ماجرا رو بدونم از طرفى نميخواستم كتاب زود تموم شه.خيلى خوب بود و متن فوق العاده روانى داشت. داستان و توصيفات به شدت جذاب.خلاصه كه عالى بود :)
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  • Giorgia Penzo
    July 9, 2014
    Delicato come una pennellata, intenso come il blu oltremare. L’arte e la narrazione di mescolano come olio e pigmenti, rivelando mille sfumature: i quadri di Vermeer prendono vita, si rivelano, diventano i personaggi di contorno alla protagonista.Visto le poche informazioni che abbiamo sulla vita del pittore, questa è una bellissima leggenda a cui è un piacere credere.La storia della nascita del quadro più famoso di Vermeer ci viene raccontata dalla sua modella.Siamo nel 1664. Griet è una giovan Delicato come una pennellata, intenso come il blu oltremare. L’arte e la narrazione di mescolano come olio e pigmenti, rivelando mille sfumature: i quadri di Vermeer prendono vita, si rivelano, diventano i personaggi di contorno alla protagonista.Visto le poche informazioni che abbiamo sulla vita del pittore, questa è una bellissima leggenda a cui è un piacere credere.La storia della nascita del quadro più famoso di Vermeer ci viene raccontata dalla sua modella.Siamo nel 1664. Griet è una giovane donna, figlia di un decoratore di piastrelle protestante di Delft. Obbligata dalle circostanze economiche precarie della famiglia, si vede costretta a lasciarla per andare a servizio presso un’altra più agiata: quella cattolica del pittore Jan Vermeer.Griet china la testa e accetta il suo destino. Lavora duramente, sostituisce la fantesca Tanneke nelle mansioni più faticose, cerca di mantenere salda la sua fede, resiste ai dispetti di una delle figlie del pittore, sopporta le angherie di sua moglie e si ammanta di un timore reverenziale verso il suo padrone, il quale l’ha incaricata di pulire l’atelier in cui dipinge.Così la sua esistenza si divide in due: fuori dalla casa c’è la vita vera, la sua famiglia e il figlio del macellaio che le fa la corte. Dentro, invece, nell’atelier, c’è un mondo ovattato fatto di silenzi e pose; è il luogo più gelido dell’abitazione ma nonostante questo Griet ne ricava sempre un gran calore, soprattutto quando c’è il suo padrone con lei. Non sa perchè. Sa solo che lì si sente libera.Si tiene tutto dentro, Griet, dalle grida ai sospiri. I suoi gesti sono cadenzati e misurati tanto più è grande la passione che la muove. Dietro le gote pallide del viso sempre chino sulle faccende domestiche brucia un fuoco, scarlatto come i capelli che tiene segregati sotto la cuffia e che non mostra mai a nessuno.Ma Griet non è soltanto una domestica. Ha un’anima artistica, va oltre le apparenze, sa cogliere il significato dei dettagli. Vermeer se ne accorge.Si nutre del talento della ragazza tanto da volerla come aiutante nel suo atelier, tanto da affidarle la macinatura dei colori, tanto da interessarsi al suo parere così come il più facoltoso dei mecenati di Vermeer – Van Ruijven – si interessa alla sua bellezza carnale e gli ordina un suo ritratto, a tutti i costi.Griet e Vermeer si trovano costretti ad accontentarlo, in segreto. Passano ore a guardarsi negli occhi senza dirsi niente, rivelando tutto. Superano insieme la linea che non avrebbero dovuto nemmeno calpestare, e così facendo consegnano alla storia un quadro perfetto e iconico.Ma certe scelte si trascinano dietro conseguenze inevitabili. E il destino di Griet, ancora una volta, viene messo in gioco.
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  • Carla
    November 15, 2016
    Um livro muito plástico e impressivo onde nos é aberta a porta da casa e do estúdio de um dos maiores expoentes da arte flamenga do século XVII, Johannes Vermeer. Da casa do pintor situada no Canto dos Papistas, as janelas abertas para a cidade de Delft permitem ao leitor sentir o pulsar de vida de uma típica cidade mercantil holandesa e divisar toda a amálgama social que nela se movimentava. As criadas, os açougueiros, os mercadores ricos, os modestos pintores de azulejos.E tudo nos chega atrav Um livro muito plástico e impressivo onde nos é aberta a porta da casa e do estúdio de um dos maiores expoentes da arte flamenga do século XVII, Johannes Vermeer. Da casa do pintor situada no Canto dos Papistas, as janelas abertas para a cidade de Delft permitem ao leitor sentir o pulsar de vida de uma típica cidade mercantil holandesa e divisar toda a amálgama social que nela se movimentava. As criadas, os açougueiros, os mercadores ricos, os modestos pintores de azulejos.E tudo nos chega através do olhar atento e arguto de Griet, a criada dos Vermeer que, não deixando de ser uma mulher do seu tempo com todas as limitações que tal implicava, é impelida a escolher o seu destino. (view spoiler)[Em termos simplistas, esta é a história muito bem contada de como um brinco de pérola salvou um quadro e a dignidade de uma mulher. (hide spoiler)]
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  • Nikoleta
    November 5, 2014
    Αυτό το βιβλίο είναι κατάλληλο για όσους αγαπάνε τα ιστορικά μυθιστορήματα, τις πολλές πολλές περιγραφές στην αφήγηση και την ζωγραφική, ειδικά την τέχνη του Βερμέερ. Γραμμένο σε πρώτο πρόσωπο από την οπτική γωνία της ηρωίδας, που όπως είπα γίνεται με μια περιγραφική αφήγηση. Μιλά πολύ για τα τοπία, τους ανθρώπους, τη ζωή στην προτεσταντική Ολλανδία του 17ου αιώνα και φυσικά για τη ζωγραφική. Αυτά είναι τα καλά. Αυτό που δεν με κέρδισε είναι οι ήρωες, είναι πολύ ήπιοι και αθόρυβοι σαν χαρακτήρες Αυτό το βιβλίο είναι κατάλληλο για όσους αγαπάνε τα ιστορικά μυθιστορήματα, τις πολλές πολλές περιγραφές στην αφήγηση και την ζωγραφική, ειδικά την τέχνη του Βερμέερ. Γραμμένο σε πρώτο πρόσωπο από την οπτική γωνία της ηρωίδας, που όπως είπα γίνεται με μια περιγραφική αφήγηση. Μιλά πολύ για τα τοπία, τους ανθρώπους, τη ζωή στην προτεσταντική Ολλανδία του 17ου αιώνα και φυσικά για τη ζωγραφική. Αυτά είναι τα καλά. Αυτό που δεν με κέρδισε είναι οι ήρωες, είναι πολύ ήπιοι και αθόρυβοι σαν χαρακτήρες, και μερικές φορές γίνονται ελαφρώς αντιπαθητικοί. Δεν ήταν τόσο καλό όσο περίμενα, αλλά χάρηκα που διάβασα για τη ζωή του Βερμέερ και για την τεχνική του, που έτυχε στη σχολή να το μελετήσω και να γίνει ένας από τους αγαπημένους μου. Ααααυτά!
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  • Duane
    October 3, 2013
    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.
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  • Magdalena
    November 18, 2010
    Girl With a Pearl Earring is such a beautifully written book with a compelling story. I find the story about young Griet working for Johannes Vermeer fascinating. How Tracy Chevalier used the painting of Girl with a Pearl Earring to weave such a fantastic story. Griet is just an ordinary girl, needing to work after her father had an accident and how her life changed after she came to the Vermeer household. it's not an easy position, it's only Johannes Vermeer that she's not having a problem with Girl With a Pearl Earring is such a beautifully written book with a compelling story. I find the story about young Griet working for Johannes Vermeer fascinating. How Tracy Chevalier used the painting of Girl with a Pearl Earring to weave such a fantastic story. Griet is just an ordinary girl, needing to work after her father had an accident and how her life changed after she came to the Vermeer household. it's not an easy position, it's only Johannes Vermeer that she's not having a problem with. And, I love that it doesn't turn out to be a cheesy forbidden love story. It goes deeper than that. I just love this book.
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  • Fatima
    December 13, 2015
    یکی از زیبا ترین کتاب هایی بود که خوندم و کتاب رو زمین نگذاشتم تا تموم بشه , حس نوشته ها جوری بود که انگار در جریان داستان هستی و نظاره میکنی و هارمونی ها و توصیف های جالبی رو هم میخونی و از همه جذاب تر برای من گریت بود که درک هنریش کاری کرده بود دست های ورمر رو سر ذوق بیاره و تابلوی دختری با گوشواره های مروارید رو بکشه ...ساده و روون و دوستداشتنی از لغاتیه که برای این کتاب استفاده میکنم
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  • Lynxie
    September 24, 2011
    Are you suffering from insomnia?Yes?Well, try picking up this book. It should put you to sleep in 10minutes flat. The story about the most boring people in the world, told by a girl who has the most boring thoughts and ideas in history. Even while getting groped in the alley, she thinks of the clouds! I mean really!!!At times, I liked some of the description used, but at others it was so wrong I wanted to poke my eyes out and burn the book. Characterisation does not seem to be something Tracy is Are you suffering from insomnia?Yes?Well, try picking up this book. It should put you to sleep in 10minutes flat. The story about the most boring people in the world, told by a girl who has the most boring thoughts and ideas in history. Even while getting groped in the alley, she thinks of the clouds! I mean really!!!At times, I liked some of the description used, but at others it was so wrong I wanted to poke my eyes out and burn the book. Characterisation does not seem to be something Tracy is familiar with, all of the characters (including Griet, the protagonist) were flat and boring and stock standard.There is only one word I can use to describe this book: BORING!
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