Review: Girl with a Pearl Earring

Girl with a Pearl Earring- Tracy Chevalier
Girl with a Pearl Earring- Tracy Chevalier

It’s a pity that whenever people hear this title they think of Scarlett Johansson. Having not seen the movie version of this novel by Tracy Chevalier, I cannot speak much about Ms. Johansson’s performance of Griet. But having read the book, I can speak for Griet, the protagonist in this historical novel about Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting by the same name.

Tracy Chevalier takes one of the masterworks of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer and weaves a tale of intrigue and passion around her characters. The novel tells the story of Griet, a young girl from a poor family who’s sent to work with the Vermeer family to support her family when her father loses his eyesight.

Chevalier has described young Griet’s struggles with her own feelings and incapability to face them, her own maturing body and mind with striking accuracy and poetic rhythm. She brings out the various feelings- of jealousy and anger from Catherine, of passion and restraint from Vermeer, of desire and stubbornness from Griet and of Maria Thins’ wisdom and exhaustion at old age, in a subtle form, letting the reader sink into the experiences she creates through their various interactions. There are many underlying currents of drama and anticipation which would have been overdone by any other writer, but Chevalier deftly steers the story from being an overcharged melodrama into something that is deep, strong and heaving with emotions, like the vast ocean that looks calm on the surface with only a few waves breaking at shore to let out the disturbances deep within.

The complete review can be found here.

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2 thoughts on “Review: Girl with a Pearl Earring

  1. I’ve been hearing a lot about this book and I’m waiting for my local library to stock it soon!

    I read another book by Chavalier last month – The Lady and the Unicorn, and the way she treats her characters is what struck me the most. Each chapter is a PoV from a different character. Very unusual and interesting.

    1. This is a very good book. Haven’t picked up anything else by her, want to retain this as the best one. 🙂 And as for the PoV from a different character as a narrative, try My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk. Review coming up soon.

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