Synopsis: Griet, the young daughter of a tile-maker in seventeenth century Holland, obtains her first job, as a servant in Vermeer’s household. Tracy Chevalier shows us, through Griet’s eyes, the complicated family, the society of the small town of Delft, and life with an obsessive genius. Griet loves being drawn into his artistic life, and leaving her former drudgery, but the cost to her own survival may be high.
This month has been difficult to form a group review because although most of us enjoyed the book to some extent, we all had a varied response to the set questions which makes a strange summary!
We enjoyed this book for the first few chapters and overall, the story was ok. Despite this average response, we would recommend this book to anyonewho enjoys a good read and would read this author whenever we discover another title!!
Individual comments included:
“Chevalier lovingly recreates Vermeer’s 17th Century Delft, telling the story behind the painting…unfortunately I did not have the patience to read this highly-detailed, walking watercolour and read only a few pages!” – B
“No I did not like this book. It is not my cup of tea. Too “Me Too”. Also did not like the criticism of Roman Catholic Religion. I found it offensive” -G
Below is Botwell Green Library reading Group member Rekha’s review:
I had heard of the film a few years ago but hadn’t seen it so was able to approach the book fresh.
I enjoyed the book as it opened up a new city and the way the rich treat the poor. It was so sad to read of the (mis)fortunes of the tiler family. The strong family ties came through the book. Griet’s life turned upside down because of the fathers accident.
It’s not clear what would have happened to Griet if she hadn’t taken on the maid’s job – perhaps done a full circle and still married the butchers son.
Griet was certainly not a simple and naive girl (slaps Cornelia on her first day), how much of the move to the attic was manipulated and how much the master wanting her close by?
Vermeer used to paint women/young girls quite often as his other paintings show.
It was not surprising to see the way Griet was treated by the mistress, though it was confusing to understand the role of the girls/daughters as they seem to be learning the household chores at times.
As is often the case Vermeer dies a poor man necessitating the wife to sell their possessions.
It was an easy read. I saw the film after I read the book which was a pretty good translation but missed certain points of the book.
I enjoyed the book from cover-to-cover and overall the story was good. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good read and would read this author whenever I discover another title.