31 August 2012

Girl With a Pearl Earring; Tracy Chevalier

Girl With a Pearl EarringGirl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not sure why it took me so long to get around to reading this - it's been on Mt. Bookpile since the mid-90s!

This is a relatively quick read, less art history (I'd hoped for more about the Vermeer paintings) than historical fiction about Griet, the Vermeer maid painted in the Girl With... painting. The author supposes how she, a Protestant, feels working for a Catholic family, what her relationships with the other maid and the Vermeer family are, and how she feels about the painting. Griet is modest, uncomfortable by the way Vermeer, Pietr (the butcher's boy) and one of Vermeer's clients look at her. She's also wary of letting anyone see her hair, supposedly a wavy auburn that makes her look like a girl who hangs out in alleys (not that she and Pietr don't do some of that on their own). These traits lead to the unusual hairdressing; the pearl precipitates her leaving the Vermeer household for marriage and life on the butcher's stall.

More about the process of the painting would have made this a 5-star, but the backstory about life during that time was very interesting.

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