Review: Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Inspired by Johannes Vermeer's beautiful painting, author Tracy Chevalier creates a beautiful work of fiction centred around who the mysterious girl in the painting may have been. Through a combination of research and imagination, Chevalier creates Griet, a young lady who is forced to work as a maid in the Vermeer household after her father is injured in a workplace accident. Sensing that Griet has an aptitude for art, Vermeer develops a friendship with the young woman and she soon becomes his student and muse. But darker forces are at play, first through the less than honourable intentions of one of Vermeer's friends, and then through Vermeer's insistence that Griet pose for him, and wear his wife's beloved pearl earrings. Can she rise above the scandal, or will it ruin her future forever?

Well researched and beautifully told, this story is a pleasurable read. It comes as no surprise that this one has been in print for the last twenty years and has been made into a film--there is something appealing about the quiet beauty that is to be found within the pages. The author's portrayal of Griet, a young woman trapped in an impossible set of circumstances thanks to a man who does not understand the enormity of what he is asking, or what the implications are for Griet, or for his wife.

Highly recommended.


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