April 7, 2012

Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Girl With A Pearl Earring
By:  Tracy Chevalier

Girl With A Pearl Earring is one of the most famous paintings in history.  Yet no one knows who the model is.  So Tracy Chevalier wrote this book, following in the footsteps of 16-year-old Griet, the newly appointed maid to the Vermeers.

At the beginning of this story, Griet starts her new position at the Vermeer household.  The master and mistress have 5 children, a cold yet loyal maid, and a lot of laundry, so Griet is kept very busy.  But as busy as she is, she can't help but be curious.

Her master is a painter.  The legendary Vermeer, although he wasn't famous yet.  Griet tries to focus on her duties, but the master is mysterious and intriguing from the very beginning.

Throughout her duties as a maid and her interactions with the inhabitants of the household, Griet slowly gains the respect of (a few of) the members of the family.  She is also noticed by Vermeer.

Vermeer realizes that although he and Griet are of different genders, religions, upbringings, education, and social class, they share a knack for colors and they look at objects in the same way.

Her master begins to have Griet grind bone and mix colors for him, and his studio becomes a sanctuary for Griet.  It becomes her refuge from the other, less understanding inhabitants of the house as well as her refuge from Van Ruijven, Vermeer's patron, who makes sexual advances on Griet whenever he sees her.

On top of all this, she must deal with the attractions of the Vermeers' butcher.  Sh also has to deal with her family. Griet's loving family had always been there for her, but traumatic incidents, death, and lies have torn them apart, and she hardly knows them when she visits.

Her only salvation is the studio.  Well, actually her master.  He is the only one who understands her, and she feels safe when she's with him.  She feels elation when she helps him, and great pride from his occasional praises.

But we know that all good things must come to an end.

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