Finished Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier this morning. A quick, short read. A book so nice, I bought it twice. I did. Once at Bookman’s in paperback and once at Half-Price Books in hardback when I forgot that I had already bought it. The hardback was cheaper. Anyway…
Chevalier’s prose is simple and unadorned, and she says just enough to make things quite clear without beating an idea into the reader’s head. That’s pretty much what I liked about Falling Angels too. Girl with a Pearl Earring is simpler in theme and characters than Angels, and how they made the book into a movie is beyond me. Not a whole hell of a lot happens really. Despite the somewhat Gothic themes of a servant girl who is envied, coveted, locked away, and escapes, in the end the story is simply a small portion in a girl’s life. We all have these periods that shape us as we ease into life. “Take care to remain yourself” our protagonist is warned and in the end she wonders if she has. (Maybe this strikes a chord with me because I have a rather malleable personality. I take on the interests of others I am around. But is that no less me?)
The first person perspective was needed in the book, and I didn’t mind it much. The only problem I really have with Chevalier’s writing is that often sense of time is muddled. I think time has passed when it hasn’t, that it’s night when it is day. Granted, I was thrown off once by the use of ‘dinner’, meaning the big meal in the middle of the day. I’m from that group of people that uses dinner and supper, that large meal at the end of the day, interchangeably. I was aware of it when that happened early in the book, but I still had problems with my place in time later.
Edit: And Chevalier did a great job incorporating setting and Vermeer’s art into the book. Again, without beating it into the reader. Looking up Vermeer’s paintings was amusing.