Girl with a Pearl Earring

It’s part coming-of-age, part feminine awakening.


  • Want a richly human read
  • Enjoy historical fiction
  • Want a compelling story

TitleGirl with a Pearl Earring | Author: Tracy Chevalier  | Rating: 3.5/5

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Girl with a Pearl Earring, but I enjoyed the author’s other book, Remarkable Creatures, so I had high expectations. Girl with a Pearl Earring certainly delivered.

Through the eyes of sixteen-year-old Griet, the world of 1660s Holland comes dazzlingly alive in this richly imagined portrait of the young woman who inspired one of Vermeer’s most celebrated paintings.

The book follows Griet, who becomes a maid to the Vermeer family. She’s from a poor family, her father blinded by a blast while he was working his tile-making trade. Griet has a younger sister and an older brother, who’s been apprenticed in a nearby town.

Griet goes to live with the Vermeers, and comes to know all family members wells. The book is part historical fiction, part character study of the Vermeer family. Griet comes to understand the family dynamics, from Vermeer’s introverted ways, to his wife’s complex jealousy and frustration.

But Griet soon comes to one problem after the next. First her family it touched intimately by the Black Plague. Then she’s targeted by a rich married man who’s been known to spawn bastards with young women he assaults. Griet has caught his eye, and it’s gotten her into trouble. Vermeer then wants to paint her, in a time when a woman’s modesty and virtue is all she has. Then, the butcher’s son proposes to her, when she’s not ready to be married just yet.

A wonderful book on all accounts, Girl with a Pearl Earring is a strong character study of a young girl who blossoms into a woman under the eye of a powerful and tense family. It’s part coming-of-age, part feminine awakening.

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