Girl with the Pearl Earring follows young Griet, a girl whose father has been disabled by his own work. Because of his inability to support Griet’s five person family, Griet is forced to move out of the only home that she has ever known. At only 17 years old, Griet begins working as a maid for an artist and his family, Johannes Vermeer. There, she undertakes the new responsibilities of coping without family, new love, dealing with difficult labour, and navigating through her master’s predatorial fellow artists.
The book is written in the 1600 time period. It is based off of the legitimate painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring”, painted by none other than Johannes Vermeer. It is historical fiction, because although many of the events that take place in the novel are fictional, the painting itself is real, and many of the facts incorporated into the book are true. Also, the dates in the book are true as well. Many events were exaggerated for effect. The years pass quickly in the novel, moving from 1664 to 1676 in less than 200 pages.
Since the novel is written as if it is set in the olden days, the style of writing and speech by the various characters reflected that as well. I found myself reaching for a dictionary at times, as many words were outdated. This was okay, however, as I was able to better understand how people talked to each other back then. The book was written in first person, but unlike other books that I have read, more actions of Griet’s were given, as opposed to her own feelings.
The book was written in first person, but unlike other books that I have read, more actions of Griet’s were given, as opposed to her own feelings. Personally, I did not enjoy this book as much as I would’ve liked. I found the writing style boring, and not a lot of voice was incorporated into the story. Tracy Chevalier emphasized how little freedom and voice women had back then, but sadly, it went into her writing, and none of the characters had a great sense of voice either. I am not an art fanatic, therefore I was not very interested in the history of the piece. I found myself finally intrigued when the book was almost over. Just because I did not enjoy this book does not mean that others won’t, however. If you are a fan of art and historical fiction, perhaps this book is for you. Overall, I would rate Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier a 2 out of 5 stars.
Book Reviewed by Anna Cumming
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