This review was originally written 13 April, 2009
Interesting read which tells the story of Griet, a Dutch girl who is sent to live as a servant for the painter Vermeer to earn money for her family after her father is blinded and can no longer work. The Vermeer household features several children, Catharina-the cold mistress of the household, and another servant. Tensions arise when one of the girls takes a dislike to Griet and constantly tries to get her in trouble. She also creates tension when Vermeer recognizes her abilities and tasks her to assist him which creates jealousy among the household and also when she catches the eye of a wealthy customer and must resist his advances. Eventually the only way to appease him is for Griet to sit for a portrait (The Girl with the Pearl Earring).I like that the focus of the book stayed on Griet and that kept the story simple and enjoyable. There are so many different points of focus the book could have had but I think Chevalier was smart to keep the focus on the protagonist, Griet. In doing this I got a good impression of what it was like to live in Delft and the differences between the classes and how people were expected to act. Its not easy to picture in your mind how characters should be in a time you know nothing about but I felt liked the way the writing and descriptions allowed you to “see” it without it being too much. I also didn’t mind the background story of the butcher’s son vying for Griet’s attention throughout the book. Good description, likeable main character and it made me interested enough to look up some of Vermeer’s work on Wikipedia so I could see for myself the paintings that were discussed in the book.
If the FTC is wondering: This book is from my own personal library