Tracy Chevalier

Three books that render the world from an arresting new perspective.

Inspired by the intriguing subject of a Vermeer portrait, Tracy Chevalier became a bestselling author with the publication of Girl with a Pearl Earring in 1999. Having studied under such literary figures as Malcolm Bradbury and Rose Tremain, the novelist has let her imagination wander into some of the most intriguing scenarios history has to offer, from the creation of elaborate tapestries in medieval France to the life of the enigmatic poet William Blake. Her latest story, Remarkable Creatures, follows a pair of women as they build an unlikely friendship hunting for fossils at the dawn of the 19th century. The writer shared with us three of her favorite books.

Books by Tracy Chevalier


By Colm Tóibín

“How do such plain, unadorned sentences manage to pack such an emotional punch? The story of an Irish girl who emigrates to New York in the 1950s, this seems like a simple story, yet Tóibín builds lots of little details into a moving, resonant novel about what it means to be a stranger in a strange land, and make a new life there.”

The White Bone

By Barbara Gowdy

“This is one of those novels that make you look at the world from a completely new angle. It’s about a herd of African elephants threatened by poachers, and it’s told from their point of view. Gowdy brilliantly imagines life from inside an elephant’s head, capturing their strange, mystical Otherness while finding common ground with us humans without anthropomorphising her subjects. While reading it I felt sometimes in a dream world, sometimes viscerally shocked and stirred. Amazing stuff.”

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher

By Kate Summerscale

“Anyone who has played Sleuth or read an Agatha Christie whodunit will love this story of a sensational English country house murder that rocked 19th-century England, providing a real-life template for generations of detective fiction to come. Though scrupulously researched, it reads like a fast-paced novel, and will have you playing detective alongside Mr. Whicher.”