By Tracy Chevalie
Chevalier, Tracy. Girl with a Pearl Earring. New York: Dutton, 1999. Print.
Girl with a Pearl Earring
“A portrait of radiance... Tracy Chevalier brings the real artist Vermeer and a fictional muse to life in a jewel of a novel.” -Time magazine Set from 1664- 1676 this slanting novel illustrates the life of Griet, a common maid living in Delft, as she works for the family of the city’s most renowned painter. At only the age of sixteen when she starts to work for the Vermeer family, Griet is expected to know her place and pick up her duties like second nature. The household dominated by mother and daughter alike Catharina Vermeer and Maria Thins; Griet must be quick on her feet with the help of the present maid, Tanneke. She was brought to the Vermeer household for an exceedingly specific reason, to clean her master’s studio. It doesn’t take very long after Griet’s arrival at the Vermeer home for her to turn the heads of the master painter, some of his prosperous clientele, and even the local butcher. One of Vermeer’s clients takes a specific interest in Griet; an internally disfigured man by the name of Van Ruijven takes a liking to the “wide eyed maid” and can’t help himself but to take a closer look. Over the course of Griet cleaning Master Vermeer’s studio she has found a hidden passion for the world of art with its exotic colors and dazzling lights, shifting shadows and indescribable beauty. Ultimately Griet becomes a central part of Vermeer’s work, allowing them to become closer, creating tension and ripples in the structure of the Vermeer household. Just as Griet begins to find comfort as her routine of cleaning, cooking, and looking after the children, she is requested as a model in a classic Vermeer painting for none other than the furtive Van Ruijven. Much to his dismay, Master Vermeer had no option but to take the work for his hastily growing family. She is posed looking over her left shoulder,...