My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Enjoyable historical novel.
The main character is a servant in the house of the 17th-century Dutch master, Johannes Vermeer, and is used as the model for the painting ‘Girl with a pearl earing’. The author re-creates common life in the town of Delft with what seems to be fascinating authenticity. The smells of the marketplace, the drudgery of laundry, the subtle tensions between servants – it all comes across here viscerally. The young maid seems devoted only to her master and obeys his every wish. When he tells her to wear his wife’s pearl earrings for the painting, she agrees even though she knows it could lead to her downfall.
Who is this guy’s publicist? For a man who left no more than 35 paintings, he’s suddenly getting plenty of attention outside the museums. Perhaps it’s the paucity of information about Vermeer’s life or the small number of exquisite paintings that makes his work such an attractive subject for novelists.
This book was also made into an extremely successful 2003 movie starring Colin Firth as Vermeer and Scarlett Johansson as Griet. I might need to see if I can find it.