Girl with a Pearl Earring was one of the books I’ve bought long before I’ve included art in my life with books, but I couldn’t read it till now. When I finally finished, I was sorry I didn’t read it before. It wasn’t a good idea to watch the film first and read the book later. I kept visualising Scarlett Johansson in the film instead of the girl in the picture. Still, it was fun to visit Delft in the 1600s and read about an artist’s genius.
Tracy Chevalier is one of the writers that I’ve heard ever since I started the Books about Art and Artists project. Whomever I told about my project asked me if I read this author. To be honest, the book is not bad at all, but I think it is not that great for everyone to suggest the author. Maybe I may have raised my expectation without realising it.
Girl with a Pearl Earring, the book
Girl with a Pearl Earring takes place in Delft in the 1660s. You’ll be reading about Vermeer’s life in this city and his house in great details, as well as the painting in question.
When Griet’s father lost his ability to see and became unemployed, Griet had to earn the livelihood of the house. Vermeer hires her as a maid to work in his home. Griet feels excited to work in this master’s house as he is a well-known painter in his time. After she enters the house though, she loses her excitement because of the intensity of household chores. But Vermeer takes advantage of Griet’s meticulousness and uses it for his own work. Although she has all the work she can do in a day, Griet doesn’t complain as long as she can help Vermeer. The relationship between these two will change and grow over time. This is not a love relationship, and thank God it is not otherwise the book could turn into a very cheap romance.
The book made me see Vermeer and especially this painting in a very different way. If I didn’t read this book, I would never examine the painter so much, and I wouldn’t be aware of his genius. Then I remember a documentary I’ve seen long ago, called Tim’s Vermeer. I would recommend you to read the book first, examine the painting in great detail and then watch this entertaining documentary. It will be a great weekend! Enjoy!
About the book: Girl with a Pearl Earring
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.
About the author: Tracy Chevalier
Tracy Rose Chevalier is an American-British historical novelist. She has written eight novels. She is best known for her second novel, Girl with a Pearl Earring, which was adapted as a 2003 film starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth.