Girl With A Pearl Earring – Tracey Chevalier

This book was a second hand bookstore find for me. I bought it simply on the premise that generally when they make a movie based on a book, the book is pretty damn good. I haven’t seen the movie but the concept intrigued me. For anyone that doesn’t know this book is based on an actual painting of the same name. Tracey Chevalier wrote a fictional back story for the oil painting by Johannes Vermeer.

 

The novel is a fairly short read set in 17th century Delft and follows the story of Griet, who works as a maid for Vermeer’s family to help support her own after her father loses his sight. The story details how she navigates life in a complex family unit, trying not to disturb the delicate balance between all who live there. All the while Griet tries to maintain  normal relationship with her family who she can only visit on Sundays. She also attracts the eye of Pieter, the butcher’s son and more dangerously Pieter van Ruijven, Vermeer’s patron.

 

Overall I enjoyed the novel quite a lot. I especially savoured the intricacies in the relationships between Griet and each of the other characters and how they each affected each other. There were a lot of subtle messages within the plot and Chevalier creates quite a layered story. My issue with the plot was the ending. I found the ending quite abrupt and with not a lot resolved or explained. I understand why the author did this as the plot climax revolved around the completion of the painting and once this had occurred there was a natural resolution, which makes sense for the flow of the novel. This is more of a personal preference than a criticism of the novel. I also wish Griet was more clear about her feelings for Pieter. Did she love him too? Or was their relationship out of convenience or duty? I would have loved to understand more about her motivations and insight into her situation.

 

I give the Girl With A Pearl Earring three of Vermeer’s paint palettes.

 

P.S. You might notice the picture shows a pair of pearl earrings rather than a pearl earring. This is because I began taking the picture with a lone pearl earring, as I had lost one frustratingly in my own room and no amount of searching had recovered it. After taking the sad photo it reminded me how much I missed that earring so I decided to have another look…lo and behold I found it! Day. Made.

 

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