Thank goodness a picture can be worth more than a thousand words. Tracey Chevalier has written a vibrant, sumptuous novel about the enigmatic subject of a painting. Ms. Chevalier doesn't put a foot wrong in this triumphant work, the latest of several recent novels based on Vermeer paintings. It is a beautifully written tale that mirrors the elegance of the painting that inspired it.
Katie Flatley - Wall Street Journal
Absorbing novel ... as Chevalier's writing skill and her knowledge of seventeenth-century Delft are such that she creates a world reminiscent of a Vermeer interior: suspended in a particular moment, it transcends its time and place.
The New Yorker
Girl With a Pearl Earring is an engaging fictionalization. Fittingly, Chevalier's writing style adopts a painterly approach: The elegant prose evokes contemplation, the pace is slow and cumulative the drama emotional rather than visceral. Looking at the painting after having read the novel. The reader thinks, Yes, Chevalier got it right - that was the story hidden behind those eyes, silent for centuries.
San Francisco Chronicle
It's great strength is its projection of a complex, emotional universe onto an intimate canvas. The details, like the world of colors that Vermeer found in a single fold of white cloth, add up to more than the sum of their parts.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Set in 17th-century Delft, this historical novel intertwines the art of Johannes Vermeer with his life and that of a maiden servant in his household. From the few facts known about the artist, Chevalier creates the reality of the Netherlands. The parallel themes of tradesman/artist, Protestant/Catholic, and master/servant are intricately woven into the fabric of the tale. The painters of the day spent long hours in the studio, devising and painting re-creations of everyday life. The thrust of the story is seen through the eyes of Griet, the daughter of a Delft tile maker who lost his sight and, with it, the ability to support his family. Griet's fate is to be hired out as a servant to the Vermeer household. She has a wonderful sense of color, composition, and orderliness that the painter Vermeer recognizes. And, slowly, Vermeer entrusts much of the labor of creating the colored paints to Griet. Throughout, narrator Ruth Ann Phimister gives a strong performance as the enchanting voice of Griet. Highly recommended. —Kristin M. Jacobi, Eastern Connecticut State Univ., Willimantic
After her father is hurt in an accident, sixteen-year-old Griet helps support her family by working as a maid for the Johannes Vermeer family. Griet's life there is difficult because she is Protestant and the Vermeer family is Catholic, and also because both Vermeer's wife, Catharina, and one of his daughters seem to resent the young maid. As Griet gradually learns more about Vermeer's methods of painting, the artist begins to take an interest in the girl. He even allows her to help grind the colors used in his paints and asks for her thoughts on his work. When Vermeer offers Griet the chance to pose as the model for one of his paintings, the girl makes a decision that changes her life forever as she becomes the girl with a pearl earring. Author Chevalier has woven a lyrical story of art and one girl's coming of age in seventeenth-century Holland. Chevalier's writing glows with the same luminosity that infuses Vermeer's paintings, and she skillfully evokes the book's historical setting and gives readers a fascinating protagonist. Teens, especially those who enjoy historical fiction, are certain to be drawn to Griet's story as she struggles with her responsibilities to her family, deals with the romantic attentions of a local merchant's son, and tries to find her own place in the world.
John Charles - VOYA
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