Book Review: Girl With A Pearl Earring

Girl with a Pearl EarringGirl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Girl With a Pearl Earring is the fictionalized story behind the girl in Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting with the same title. Very little is known about Vermeer’s real life and no one knows who the real Girl With a Pearl Earring is so most all of the plot is from Tracy Chevalier’s imagination.

Sixteen year old Griet is from a poor Protestant family living in 1660s Holland. She goes to work as a housekeeper for the Vermeer family so she can help contribute to her family’s dire financial situation. The work is hard and the days are long. Because of her attention to detail, Griet is given the job of cleaning Vermeer’s studio and leaving everything in exactly the same place it was before she cleaned. This makes Vermeer’s wife jealous – she’s not even allowed in the studio because she is so clumsy.

I could not put this book down. Griet is a great character. She is strong but recognizes the limitations of being a woman in the 17th century. She’s smart enough to work with the social confines of her situation to survive and thrive. The relationship between Vermeer and Griet was complex, at times it seemed like a parent/child dynamic and other times it seemed to have more romantic tension. The author did a great job of putting the reader right in the middle of Delft, the town in Holland where the story takes place. I highly recommend this book.

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