An international bestseller with over two million copies sold, this is a story of an artist's desire for beauty and the ultimate corruption of innocence. 17th Century Holland. When Griet becomes a maid in the household of Johannes Vermeer in the town of Delft, she thinks she knows her role: housework, laundry and the care of his six children. But ...
An international bestseller with over two million copies sold, this is a story of an artist's desire for beauty and the ultimate corruption of innocence. 17th Century Holland. When Griet becomes a maid in the household of Johannes Vermeer in the town of Delft, she thinks she knows her role: housework, laundry and the care of his six children. But as she becomes part of his world and his work, their growing intimacy spreads tension and deception in the ordered household and, as the scandal seeps out, into the town beyond. Tracy Chevalier's extraordinary historical novel on the corruption of innocence and the price of genius is a contemporary classic perfect for fans of Sarah Dunant and Philippa Gregory.
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A great read, smooth flowing and holds the readers attention to the very end.
Jul 5, 2012
I really liked it.
This book kept my interest the whole time and I will be reading more from this author.
Nov 17, 2011
The story behind the painting?
The cover of this book features 'Girl with a Pearl Earring', a famous work by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (c 1665) and this book tells the story of the girl who is the subject of the painting.
Our story begins in 1664 when Griet, a teenager who lives with her parents and younger sister in Delft, is visited by a couple who wish to employ her as their maid. The husband is a famous painter who wishes Griet to clean his studio, along with other household duties. She is to start her new life the following day, so she must pack her few belongings and say her farewells to her family. Her father was a tile painter, but has lost his sight in an accident at work. Now he sees the world through the eyes of his elder daughter. Her brother had followed his father into the trade, and was studying away from home, which would leave only the younger sister at home once Griet moved out.
On arrival at her new place of work, Griet meets all the members of the family Vermeer, also the other domestic staff. Some are suspicious of her, and some are downright unpleasant to her, but she finds the occasional ally as she settles in. The painter requires meticulous cleaning of his studio, usually when he is absent on other business. Once in a while their paths cross, and after Griet overcomes her initial shyness, they slowly begin to talk. They gradually progress from discussing household matters to various aspects of his painting.
We discover the local people that Griet interacts with on a daily basis, also the people she befriends or who try to befriend her. Her work is hard and laborious and often gets her down, but she perseveres. Her life suddenly becomes more complicated when unwanted attention from a visitor sparks a chain of events which will rock the household to its foundations.
A well crafted historical tale, and a very enjoyable read.
Sep 29, 2011
Interesting book, easy to read, however, no great drama or emotions. Book seemed simple for it's subject matter.
Jun 14, 2009
Interesting peek into a different time and situation
Publishers Weekly, 1999-10-11 The scant confirmed facts about the life of Vermeer, and the relative paucity of his masterworks, continues to be provoke to the literary imagination, as witnessed by this third fine fictional work on the Dutch artist in the space of 13 months. Not as erotic or as deviously suspenseful as Katharine Weber's The Music Lesson, or as original in conception as Susan Vreeland's interlinked short stories, Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Chevalier's first novel succeeds on its own merits. Through the eyes of its protagonist, the modest daughter of a tile maker who in 1664 is forced to work as a maid in the Vermeer household because her father has gone blind, Chevalier presents a marvelously textured picture of 17th-century Delft. The physical appearance of the city is clearly delineated, as is its rigidly defined class system, the grinding poverty of the working people and the prejudice against Catholics among the Protestant majority. From the very first, 16-year-old narrator Griet establishes herself as a keen observer who sees the world in sensuous images, expressed in precise and luminous prose. Through her vision, the personalities of coolly distant Vermeer, his emotionally volatile wife, Catharina, his sharp-eyed and benevolently powerful mother-in-law, Maria Thins, and his increasing brood of children are traced with subtle shading, and the strains and jealousies within the household potently conveyed. With equal skill, Chevalier describes the components of a painting: how colors are mixed from apothecary materials, how the composition of a work is achieved with painstaking care. She also excels in conveying the inflexible class system, making it clear that to members of the wealthy elite, every member of the servant class is expendable. Griet is almost ruined when Vermeer, impressed by her instinctive grasp of color and composition, secretly makes her his assistant, and later demands that she pose for him wearing Catharina's pearl earrings. While Chevalier develops the tension of this situation with skill, several other devices threaten to rob the narrative of its credibility. Griet's ability to suggest to Vermeer how to improve a painting demands one stretch of the reader's imagination. And Vermeer's acknowledgment of his debt to her, revealed in the denouement, is a blatant nod to sentimentality. Still, this is a completely absorbing story with enough historical authenticity and artistic intuition to mark Chevalier as a talented newcomer to the literary scene. Agent, Deborah Schneider. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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