The novel Girl with a Pearl Earring should definitely be included on the Novel Ideas book club reading list. Elyshia Hickey reveals why this fascinating, historical and romantic story will appeal to an adolescent audience, as it explores the theme of sensual awakening. Set in 17th century Delft, Chevalier’s novel explores the deep but forbidden love between a young maid and her master. The author’s clever combination of an intriguing story, remarkable characters and descriptive language allowed her to explore the themes of forbidden love, predators and sexual desires.
For hundreds of years people have wondered who is the girl in the portrait Girl with a Pearl Earring, painted by a Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer in the 17th century and what is the connection between them. This fictional love story by Chevalier explores the sensual relationship between the young lady and the painter. Griet, a seventeen year old girl, narrated the story of her life experiences in the 1600’s, as she transformed from a young girl into a married woman. The narrative structure will appeal to a young adult audience as they will be able to relate to many of Griet’s experiences, especially the encounters she had with men. She was hired as a maid by a rich and famous painter, to help her impoverished family. Vermeer allowed her the privilege of working as his assistant in the studio, which caused much turmoil with his wife. This tension between the characters reads like a modern day soap opera. Vermeer was a gentle and respectful master, and Griet became devoted to him. Her secret admiration of him became increasingly intimate and loving, but not sexual. Vermeer’s friend, Van Ruijven requested him to paint Griet. Van Ruijven had several unwanted sexual encounters with her. Griet had to deal with the nervous emotions of a young girl learning to cope with sexual predators. Meanwhile, Griet met the local butcher, Pieter, and a friendship developed between...
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