Skip to main content

Book Review: Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier


When 16-year-old Griet's father loses his eyesight and can no longer work, she becomes a servant to the artist Johannes Vermeer in order to help support her family. From the start, she doesn't feel she belongs in the Vermeer household. The artist's wife, Catharina, is jealous of the girl because Griet is given access to her husband's studio ~ a place she is not allowed. One of their many children tries to sabotage Griet from the start. And the servant who is already in the home offers her a lukewarm welcome, to say the least.

In Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier has written a historical novel that aims to reveal one possible story behind the Vermeer painting by the same name. She has taken the girl who appears in the painting, and brought her to life in the character of Griet. It's an interesting concept, and I really enjoyed her descriptions of the scenes where Vermeer actually creates the painting itself, as well as the explanation of why the painting was done in the first place.

But I've struggled to write this review, because while it was interesting to read about this time and place ~ 17th century Holland ~ I just never felt connected to the story or the characters. It felt a little flat to me. Reading the many reviews of this book, it seems the big thing is the romance between Griet and Johannes. But I never felt it. It seemed like she had a bit of a crush on him, but he never seemed to care for her. He was nice to encourage her artistic abilities, letting her help in the studio beyond just cleaning it. But that was all I got from their relationship. I kept thinking something more would happen. And I thought all the secrecy around her helping him in the studio was overdone.

I know this book has gotten great reviews, and I will be discussing it at book club later this month so I'm interested in hearing what others thought. But for me, while an easy read, it wasn't very interesting or engaging. I never felt an emotional connection to the story or the characters. I did enjoy the historical aspects of it, though, so that brings my rating up a bit.

My Rating: 3/5

Discussion questions for Girl with a Pearl Earring

This review was written based on copy of Girl with a Pearl Earring that I borrowed from the library.

Comments

  1. Sorry that this one didn't wow you. I usually find that Chevalier's novels add a little something different to historical fiction. The only book of hers I didn't really like was Burning Bright, although I have yet to read Remarkable Creatures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did enjoy the historical aspect, just had a hard time with the storyline itself.

      Delete
  2. Julie--I remember this novel as somewhat dry myself. With Vermeer's paintings, at least the landscapes, you have to lean right in to get the "gasp" factor of his technical brilliance, his deep love of his subjects. I kept leaning in to this novel and never quite gasped. I can imagine him pouring most of his intensity into his paintings and not his cohorts! Wife and kids included.

    Thanks for the review.

    Barbara Richardson
    www.barbarakrichardson.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. I just found this book on my shelf. Didn't even know I owned it. I recognized the cover from your blog and put it in my queue for reading. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Popular posts from this blog

Banned Books Week: Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park

This is the end of Banned Books Week and unfortunately, I haven't had a lot of time to write about banned books this year. But I did want to include at least one post about it, so today I wanted to share one of the book series that it seems most people are surprised to find on the list: Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park.

According to Wikipedia:
The Junie B. Jones series came in at #71 on the American Library Association's list of the Top 100 Banned or Challenged Books from 2000-2009. Reasons cited are poor social values taught by the books and Junie B. Jones not being considered a good role model due to her mouthiness and bad spelling/grammar. This is an interesting example of a banned book. Many times there are serious, controversial topics featured in books that are challenged. Things like homosexuality, drugs, vulgar language, etc. You can actually understand why people may not want their children to read those books, and why they may challenge their inclusion in school libra…

Book Review: No Story to Tell by KJ Steele

Victoria has been put down since the day she was born. First by her parents who were disappointed that she survived while her twin brother died. Then by her verbally abusive husband and his low-life friends. But soon an intriguing artist named Elliott arrives in town and starts encouraging Victoria to follow her dream of opening her own dance studio. She also begins to receive phone calls from a mysterious someone who gets her to open up about her past and face her true feelings.

In No Story to Tell, KJ Steele has captured the small-town atmosphere and brought these characters to life. From the victimized Victoria, to her drunk and obnoxious husband Bobby and his drunk and obnoxious friends, to all the side characters who you'd expect to encounter in a town like this ~ all are so realistic in both their actions and their voices. She has written a compelling story of an abused woman who thinks she is trapped in this loveless, miserable existence. But then she finds a spark of hope…

Book Review: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Title: I See You
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Genre: thriller
Published: February 21, 2017
Format: ebook (NetGalley)
Source: publisher
Buy on Amazon(affiliate link)


Have you ever felt like someone was watching you? You will after reading Clare Mackintosh's latest release I See You. Told from the perspectives of two women, one who appears to be targeted by a criminal and the other who is the police officer working the case, this psychological thriller will have you looking over your own shoulder by the end.

Zoe is a typical working mother who takes the Underground through London to her office every day. Like most commuters, she has a routine that she follows every day, leaving home at the same time, sitting in the same train car, taking the same route to work from the station. It's habit. But she starts to realize this may not be a good idea after seeing her own photo in an advertisement in the newspaper. Another woman who appears in the advertisement is murdered and Zoe starts to ge…