Book Review of Girl with a Pearl Earring

Girl with a Pearl Earring
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Tracy Chevaliers novel, The Girl With a Pearl Earring, was a captivating story, a blend of history and fiction, inspired by a famous painting. Set in the 1600s 16 year old Griet is sent to work for a successful painter of the time, Vermeer. During the course of her apprenticeship, her master takes a romantic interest in her as she does him. Chevalier creates an amazing plot for the picture and creates a story that captures the reader although she never fully develops her characters feelings which detracts from the romanticism of the story.
The story that the author creates using this beautiful picture is one that shows an incredible amount of creativity. Chevalier imagines a story behind the painting that is sometimes referred to as the Dutch Mona Lisa. Even though no one knows who the girl in the painting is Chevalier is able to envision a romance about her. She invents a love story that crosses class lines as well as religious lines in a rigid society. The author portrays beautiful imagery for the reader. She describes the paintings making the reader feel as if they are right before them. Griet describes a woman in one of the paintings: She wore a mantle of rich yellow satin trimmed with white ermine, and a fashionable five point ribbon in her hair. The reader can imagine this womans elegant clothing with ease and can easily become mesmerized by by the descriptiveness of the novel.
Although the characters in the novel are interesting and cleverly drawn they lack depth of feeling and their motivations remain hidden from the reader. While it is easy to understand a few of the characters the two main ones, Griet and Vermeer, are never fully exposed. The reader is never told in any depth what Griet feels and thinks and Vermeer remains a mystery. At the end of the novel immediately after Vermeer finishes the painting of Griet Chevalier decides to end the story. Griet runs out of the house when Vermeers wife Catharina, sees the painting. There is no explanation of how Griet changes from this experience or what she truly feels. That left this reader with many unanswered questions.
The Girl with a Pearl Earring was an interesting blend of history and fiction. Chevalier is successful with her imagery and with the plot of the story. However she could have improved the novel by adding the exquisite detail that she used in the plot and imagery, applying it to the characters. The novel, even with those negative points was quite successful for this reader. I simply wanted more.