Customer Reviews for

Girl With a Pearl Earring: A Novel

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

Chevalier is a Painter of Words

I actually watched the film first and I liked it, so I decided to give the book a chance and loved it! This is Holland in the 17th century where a young girl named Griet is forced to work at the house of Vermeer. She tells the story in first person. I felt her pain h...
I actually watched the film first and I liked it, so I decided to give the book a chance and loved it! This is Holland in the 17th century where a young girl named Griet is forced to work at the house of Vermeer. She tells the story in first person. I felt her pain having to leave home at such a young age. Women did not have many options during that era, either give in to men or be cast out, which Griet battled with. So many times I thought her and Vermeer would make a love connection, and Chevalier definitely added that romantic stress to the plot. As for the painting, the pearl earring was Vermeer's wife's possession and she was quite the vindictive lady, which unfortunately, Griet had to deal with the wrath of her jealousy.

posted by Anonymous on April 24, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

I was very disappointed in this book. Considering how popular it

I was very disappointed in this book. Considering how popular it is, I figured there would be more of a story to it. It's a short read, but I felt like I had to force myself through it. Page after page I was waiting for something to happen, but nothing really did. The b...
I was very disappointed in this book. Considering how popular it is, I figured there would be more of a story to it. It's a short read, but I felt like I had to force myself through it. Page after page I was waiting for something to happen, but nothing really did. The best way I can describe this book is to think of a dime store romance novel, but take away the romance. You're left with practically nothing. No point. I'm not saying I am disappointed in this book's lack of romance, but I am saying that there could have at least been a point to it if romance was thrown in there. As it is, there's just nothing to it.

The main character (Greit) lacked any sort of personality. She is one of the most boring and plain characters I've ever read in a novel. She rarely had emotion, and when she did have emotion, it was hard to believe. Almost as if the author tried to randomly throw in character development for the sake of development, rather than allowing the character's personality to naturally appear throughout the story.

I don't mean to completely dismiss the book. The overall details were interesting, particularly where Greit started and how she got to where she ended. It would have been a great book had the author simply been better at writing and putting together a story. That was no the case though.

posted by StacieRosePittard on April 11, 2012

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  • Posted March 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent

    Excellent novel. It used great imagery and an interesting plot. But I still thought it was missing. There was something preventing it from being extraordinary. Maybe it was the last page, which dissatisfied me.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    amazing

    The book has such amazing imagery along with a great true story. It is not your typical love story, and this book brings something new to the table that I have not seen in a while.This is one of my favorite books I have read this year.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2011

    Well-written; enjoyed it.

    I enjoyed this book a lot. The plot is unique and Chevalier's words flow flawlessly. Truly a piece of work.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2011

    Wonderful Read.

    Tastefully done. A read that is difficult to put down. A classical masterpiece.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2010

    Wished it was a true story!

    I found myself imagining the characters doing exactly what was so well described in the story. I had to keep reminding myself that most of the characters being described were fictitious and wishing they weren't.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Enjoyable read for history buffs

    Good historical reading. I realize it is fiction, but seems that everyone throughout the ages has had a quirky family around them!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Girl With A Pearl Earring

    I had to read Girl With A Pearl Earring over the summer for school, and I thought it was well written and well planned out. Tracy Chevalier has come up with a beautiful story for a wonderfully mysterious peice of art, and fiction and nonfiction blend seamlessly. Griet's final decision surprised me, but it still left me satisfied. I suggest Girl With A Pearl Earring to anyone willing to read a historic novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    "Griet," he said softly. It was all he had to say. My eyes filled with tears I did not shed. I knew now. He was going to paint me.

    Ever wonder the story or history behind a work of art? In this case a painting, we are given that through the eyes of Griet. A young maid who goes to work at the house for the painter Johannes Vermeer and his family. Days go by as she starts to help him with mixing colors and later posing for a secret painting that is to this day both memorable and mysterious. The writing and detail of Delft, the paintings, the characters and the writing style is very good on the author's part. The ending is sad but true. Even it its only a fictional account of how a painting came to be, it makes you wonder none the less just who is the girl with a pearl earring.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2009

    Intersting read

    This book was very different in it's style. One kept expecting to have more action or movement but it seemed always just out of reach. There was a feeling of anticipation unfulfilled yet the book was compelling.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2007

    A reviewer

    Although the ending of the book was weak and disappointing, ovearll, it was great. The middle of the book was the most exciting. It is nice to read a fictional story about how one of Vermeer's painting probably got painted! The author had a great imagination filling in the empty pieces of true history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2013

    However

    This was not the kinda book that I would've read if I didn't have to. I expected it to be boring but instead, it was realistic, dramatic, and interesting. It's not my favorite book, but it was easy to read. Corelina is a little brat! And I can't believe Tanneke called Griet that name! Also im a freshman, and this was one of our summer reading requirments. Depending on your age, I would warn you about reading this. It has some pretty inapropiate things! I didnt't know they did such things back in the 1600's... little graphic there. Grossed me out. But good book. From, Mallory

    P.S Have a great school year! Good luck!(for those of you that are in school anyway)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    Lovely novel

    One of the best almost love stories, very excellently written!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2012

    Well paced and deeply descriptive

    This novel is marvelous even if you know nothing of the art or times in which it takes place.

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  • Posted April 15, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The book opens with our heroine, Griet, being hired as a servant

    The book opens with our heroine, Griet, being hired as a servant for the rich Vermeer family. Gradually her beauty attracts the attention of painter Johannes Vermeer and he becomes so enamoured with her that he permits her to help him in his studio, where not even his wife, Catharine, is allowed.

    The development of Griet’s and Johanne’s relationship is at once captivating and unnatural; captivating, as it holds the allure of forbidden love; and unnatural, because Johannes’ interest in Griet is obsession mistaken for love. An interesting observation is that whenever Griet was with Vermeer, the atmosphere has a stillness and bleakness to it, lacerated with dark color and tone. On the other hand while she’s with her other love interest her surroundings are open, jovial and welcoming, showing that a union with him is the natural and right one; or, as society would put it, the most conventional one.

    I also found it very curious that Johannes Vermeer’s first name is mentioned only once in the entire book. Instead, Griet refers to him only as her “master”. As well as adding to the mystery and potency that surrounds him, this device reinforces the idea that ultimately she is subservient to him, and in a time when young uneducated girls were little more than possessions, the place where the power to decide her future lay was with her master.

    Every detail in this book is meticulously researched. From the architexture of houses Dutch peasants lived in to the delicate process of preparing paints from grinding stone, it all rings true and draws the reader in to the wonderful worldbuilding.

    What struck me the most is that although this is fiction, I could almost believe Girl with a Pearl Earring was written in the era it’s based on. The writing style is unfurnished and simple, but it resonates with the culture and tradition of the Dutch.

    One limiting factor of writing in first person is that the reader in confined to the protagonist’s mind at all times, so when another character does something that seems unfair in their eyes, there is no certain way to see the reasons behind the action. For example, one particular character, eight-year-old Cornelia is as obnoxious as a poisoned-tipped dart throughout the entire book. I find it hard to believe that an eight-year-old can be as conniving and cruel as Cornelia was shown to be and would have preferred reading multiple POVs to understand the way she acted the way she did.

    Other than that criticism, I believe this book deserves the recognition it has received and more. If you have read it, I strongly reocmmend to watch the film adaptation because it gives a wonderful new angle to the masterpiece that Girl with a Pearl Earring is.

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  • Posted November 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Story Behind The Picture?

    The cover of this book features 'Girl with a Pearl Earring', a famous work by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (c 1665) and this book tells the story of the girl who is the subject of the painting.

    Our story begins in 1664 when Griet, a teenager who lives with her parents and younger sister in Delft, is visited by a couple who wish to employ her as their maid. The husband is a famous painter who wishes Griet to clean his studio, along with other household duties. She is to start her new life the following day, so she must pack her few belongings and say her farewells to her family. Her father was a tile painter, but has lost his sight in an accident at work. Now he sees the world through the eyes of his elder daughter. Her brother had followed his father into the trade, and was studying away from home, which would leave only the younger sister at home once Griet moved out.

    On arrival at her new place of work, Griet meets all the members of the family Vermeer, also the other domestic staff. Some are suspicious of her, and some are downright unpleasant to her, but she finds the occasional ally as she settles in. The painter requires meticulous cleaning of his studio, usually when he is absent on other business. Once in a while their paths cross, and after Griet overcomes her initial shyness, they slowly begin to talk. They gradually progress from discussing household matters to various aspects of his painting.

    We discover the local people that Griet interacts with on a daily basis, also the people she befriends or who try to befriend her. Her work is hard and laborious and often gets her down, but she perseveres. Her life suddenly becomes more complicated when unwanted attention from a visitor sparks a chain of events which will rock the household to its foundations.

    A well crafted historical tale, and a very enjoyable read.

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  • Posted October 15, 2011

    Simple but good

    Very good book, simple but emotional. I wished it were longer, hence the four stars. But, all in all, an enjoyable read and probably the best book by Chevalier.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2007

    Girl With a Pearl Earring

    I liked this book because it tells a story that most people wouldnt think about. It makes you look deaper into things like paintings and why the artist painted them. I also liked it because it tells about that time period and how different things were back then. It tells how hard life was for people who were middle or lower middle class, expecially women. It is about a sixteen year old girl named Griet who has to go work for Vermeer's family because her father went blind in a kiln accident and does not work anymore. When she moves in, nobody in the house likes her but she tries to get around that and do her work. She thinks she is just there to do chores and watch after the children, but when Vermeer asks her to start mixing and buying the colors for his paints and then be the model of his next painting, she is suprized. Once Vermeers wife finds out that she is doing this and wearing her pearl earrings, she gets very jealous and kicks her out. I would recomend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2006

    captivating

    Girl with a pearl earring is a great read. Once you start reading the book it's hard to put down. At first glace this would'nt be a book of my choice, but after my first session of reading i really got into it. I would recommend this book to anybody that has the time because once you start reading it, you won't stop.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2006

    It will pull you in for the duration

    This is a lovely book. The main character is very real and I loved being brought into her life for a little while.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2006

    Girl with Sore Eyes

    Surprisingly, I enjoyed this book. I thought it would be another book I was forced to read over the summer but I was astounded by the great detail and story the book had to offer. I decided to read this book first, out of three, so I could get over with it faster. Since it seemed so long, I settled on reading 20 pages a day. Boy, that didn't work out! I finished the book in less than two days. It was great. It was hard to put it down. I recommend it for other incoming freshman because although it has mature parts it is a book worthwhile to read!

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