Girl With A Pearl Earring

Girl With A Pearl Earring

Book - 2000
Average Rating:
Rate this:
In seventeenth-century Delft, there's a strict social order -rich and poor, Catholic and Protestant, master and servant -and all know their place. When Griet becomes a maid in the household of the painter Johannes Vermeer, she thinks she knows her role: housework, laundry, and the care of his six children. She even feels able to handle his shrewd mother-in-law; his restless, sensual wife; and their jealous servant. What no one expects is that Griet's quiet manner, quick perceptions, and fascination with her master's paintings will draw her inexorably into his world. Their growing intimacy sparks whispers; and when Vermeer paints her wearing his wife's pearl earrings, the gossip escalates into a full-blown scandal that irrevocably changes Griet's life.Written with the precision and focus of an Old Master painting, Girl With a Pearl Earring is a vivid portrait of colorful seventeenth-century Delft, as well as the hauntingly poignant story of one young girl's rite of passage.
Publisher: New York : Dutton, 2000
ISBN: 9780525945277
Branch Call Number: FIC CHEVALI 2000
Characteristics: 233 pages ; 22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Mar 01, 2020

When sixteen-year-old Griet joins Johannes Vermeer’s household as a maid, she has no idea that she will be the subject of one of the most celebrated portraits in history.⁣

Tracy Chevalier elegantly interweaves art, history and fiction in this novel. Our protagonist, Griet, is an Anne Eliot type of heroine, self-possessed and quietly determined. She understands her responsibilities and has a natural eye for art and human nature. Through her lens, the reader sees not only the blue and green and yellow in clouds, but also the red and pink and decay within the human heart. ⁣

And the themes! Idealism versus reality: how can she marry a butcher with blood in his nails when in love with the idealistic, even naive Vermeer? Power and desire: she is under the power of those who desire her and yet is struggling against her own feelings, which threaten to ruin her all. As the two trap her within their web, her tale seems to be both a coming-of-age-story and a despaired cry from the gutter of civilization. ⁣

Girl With A Pearl Earring is a visual and emotional feast, with both artworks and the human condition intimately delineated. Layers of meaning hide beneath seemingly banal descriptions, just as the girl in the painting has mystified viewers for generations.⁣

If you look at the painting as a whole, you will see our subject gazing out while her lips are half-parted as if in a small smile. Yet if you inspect the lips only, she might not be smiling after all. What is she thinking? What was Vermeer creating? Chevalier has offered her interpretation, and it is both heartbreaking and poignant. ⁣

For more book and movie reviews, visit me on Instagram @RandomStuffIRead

Oct 27, 2019

This was certainly a compelling read. Told through a simple subject , the daily life of a maid, the author brought incredible life and colour to the story, the characters and subject. The most amazing aspect was how she made us see what an artist sees and reconsider art and the work and thoughts of the artist. Although unlike others I could put the book down I always came back to it.


The historic fiction novel “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Tracy Chevalier is a motivating extension of the story behind Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting of a girl wearing a pearl earring. It expands upon the life of the girl in the painting, whom he names Griet, and her complex relationship with the painter and others around her. One of the most appealing things about this story is Griet’s simple and honorable character- how she pushes through hardships without letting it get to her and tries to think of others first, yet, like all people, has her flaws. Another thing about Griet that is compelling is the way that she understands Vermeer’s work and insightfully knows what he should change in a painting before he does so, as this develops her character into someone that a reader can trust. It’s a very real story, and its realness is accentuated by the plain, clear way it is written. From an outside perspective, the plot may not seem majorly complex, but because of the simple language used, small interpersonal conflicts between members of the house are amplified in severity. This is very realistic to the time period’s norms and carries a sense of antiquity. All in all, I give it 5/5 stars. Elena of the Yorba Linda Teen Book Bloggers

Jun 14, 2019

Loved this book about the era, the subject and the artist

multcolib_susannel Oct 15, 2018

Based on the life of 17th century Dutch painter Vermeer, this compelling story of the culture and times is told through his servant Greit.

Oct 03, 2018

Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier was an intriguing fictitious book based on the life of the famous painter Johannes Vermeer. 16-year-old Griet, is hired by Vermeer’s wife, Catharina, to work as a maid in their home. Catharina, her mother and her favoured child are unkind to her, and the maid who is many years her senior is bitter about having to work alongside a young girl who seems to be more determined than she. But after given the job to clean out Vermeer’s art studio, she finds delight in watching his paintings progress and change every time she steps foot in his room. Through Vermeer’s observation, he secretly recruits her as his art assistant and the story continues. What I liked about this book was not only the fact that Chevalier built her own story out of a painting, but because she didn’t depend on suspense to peak the curiosity of the readers. The entire book pulled me in, but in eagerness to find how Griet’s life evolved, but not to find the solution or ending of a suspenseful moment. I give this book 5/5 stars and recommend this book to ages 13 and up.
@ilovefood of the Hamilton Public Library Teen Review Board

Mar 10, 2018

I'm not much of a reader, it's not easy for me to get absorbed into a book easily. Yet this book took me away. I don't remember when was the last time I stayed up till late at night just because I couldn't let go of a book!

The first half of the book seems slow with the story; more descriptive. Yet, it is not boring, and the author depicts it in a way that makes you draw a picture in your head. And she is great with catching the subtle and sensitive feelings of women. The plot gains speed towards the end, and I couldn't put the book down. I became interested in Vermeer and looked up some of his works.

Beautifully written. Really enjoyed reading it.

Feb 27, 2018

Heightens interest in Vermeer's works by creating a backstory for several of his paintings.

ArapahoeSarahD Aug 06, 2016

Has a book ever made you look differently at the world? This one certainly made me see color, and even art itself, in a different light.
If you love art, romance, heartbreak and historical timeframes, you will like this book.
I cannot tell you how wonderfully Tracy Chevalier truly makes the reader SEE.

Aug 05, 2016

Aug 4 2016.....After the first few paragraphs I had high hopes for this novel. However, in the end I was left with a kind of empty waste of time feeling. I ordered the movie just out of curiosity, but it wasn't much better. Oh well, you win some, you lose some!.....maybe it's just me, as I seem to prefer non-fiction more these days?

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability
Jul 28, 2014

ckaldahl thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Jun 22, 2014

KatiaY thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Jun 21, 2014

blue_zebra_1060 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

Aug 19, 2013

Brisingr2000 thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

Jul 22, 2013

jurban1983 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


Add a Summary
Jun 20, 2014

Fictional story behind Vermeer's painting of the girl with pearl earring.

heatherlynn Mar 14, 2008




Add Notices
Aug 19, 2013

Sexual Content: Lots of it. Touching, and one scene with sex.


Add a Quote
Jun 22, 2014

"Why," she asked, "have you never painted me?"

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SPL

To Top