Monday, May 25, 2009

Tracy Chevalier: Girl with a Pearl Earring

Published by W.F. Howes in 2003.
Audiobook, 8 hours, read by Ruth Ann Phimister.

A book I wanted to read because I've heard a lot about it - a lot of positive things - and because I saw the movie when it came out and enjoyed it a lot. Of course, Colin Firth ... but I also liked the story and the setting. I do like a good historical drama, so I decided to finally try this book.

Not sure any plot summary is necessary, but here it is: Our heroine, Griet, is from a respectable family that has fallen on hard times because her father has lost his eyesight and thus can no longer work. Griet is the oldest child - 14, as fas as I recall - and as such has to do her share for the family. A place is found for her in a household where the husband is a respected painter and the wife is a baby-making machine. They're low on cash - because he paints so slowly - and in need of an extra pair of hands. Griet doesn't quite fit in, and at first is unhappy in the Vermeers' home, but as the time passes she settles in more and more. During her daily shopping trips she gets to know a boy at the market ... and during her work in the house she gets to know her master and his quirks. She becomes more and more impressed with the great artist's work. In fact she can hardly tear herself away. But the society she lives in is very strict and its rules are not to be trifled with. What will her master ask of her, and what will she choose to do ... ?

A very low-key story with a fascinating and extremely well described setting. I totally believed in this recreation of 17th-century Delft. The characters were very well-rounded and convincing. Although not a lot happens - the plot is hardly action-packed - the story is both moving and fascinating. The reader does a fantastic job - I had never heard of her before coming across this audio edition but her voice is perfect as Griet's. She does an amazing job and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing her read this novel.

I will definitely be reading more by this author. :-)

No comments: