Monday, 19 September 2011

Review - Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Synopsis - When Griet becomes a maid in the household of the painter Johannes Vermeer, she thinks she knows her role: housework, laundry and the care of his six children.  But as she becomes part of his world and his work, their growing intimacy spreads tension and deception in the ordered household and, as the scandal seeps out, into the town beyond.

Review - I had already seen the film starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth and loved it.  Having already seen the film sometimes makes it easier to read the book as you can visualise the characters as you read along.  Fortunately the film script is pretty close to the book.

I loved the book.  Ms Chevalier's descriptive storytelling and wonderful characterisations gave the reader a real flavour of the difficulties the young Griet faced in that household.  Maria Thins although quite the matriarch had a softer side, even if misguidedly helping Griet and the master.  However, at the end she could not do what she should have done for fear of disgrace in being an accomplice.  Catherina, Cordelia and Van Ruijven were the enemy who made life difficult for Griet and inevitably brought about her disgrace.  Griet was a pawn in a game.  Vermeer's wife was literally a wife to bear his many children.  Griet obviously a very pretty young girl, caught not only Vermeer's eye but he was the one who pursued asking her to mix his paints, stand in for him when his models were not available and in the end pose for him wearing his wife's pearl earrings.  This book reminds us of the difficulties young maid's faced when working in the household's of the wealthy.  In reality, many must have fallen at the hands of their master in one way or another.  4*

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