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Publisher's Summary

After earning a graduate degree in creative writing from the University of East Anglia, Tracy Chevalier was immediately recognized for her literary talent. In Girl with a Pearl Earring, she recreates the 17th-century world of Johannes Vermeer. This haunting work of historical fiction received rave reviews in publications as diverse as The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and The Christian Science Monitor.

In 1664, 16-year-old Griet enters the Vermeer household as a servant. Daughter of a Delft tile maker, she has a natural eye for color and design. Daily, she cleans the studio, learning much about how Vermeer sees the people he paints. As his attention focuses on her, she slowly becomes one of his subjects. Tracy Chevalier fills this unusual love story with the shades, sounds, and textures of everyday life in Holland. Narrator Ruth Ann Phimister perfectly voices Griet's growing awareness of the intrigues surrounding her and the need to define the value of her life.

©1999 Tracy Chevalier; (P)2000 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"Outstanding." (USA Today)
"This is a completely absorbing story with enough historical authenticity and artistic intuition to mark Chevalier as a talented newcomer to the literary scene." (Publishers Weekly)
"Chevalier's exploration into the soul of this complex but nave young woman is moving, and her depiction of 17th-century Delft is marvelously evocative." (The New York Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

A Masterpiece

Loved the "voice" of the book. This is a great read and a great listen. A real pleasure to hear. Highly recommend this one. If you saw the movie, you will get even more out of the book.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Julie
  • Hopkinton, MA, USA
  • 10-15-04

Totally absorbing

This is a beautiful story created for a beautiful painting: wonderfully drawn characters, beautifully detailed descriptions, and a captivating story.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • tracy
  • thatcher, AZ, United States
  • 10-11-10

A well painted book

This one is hard to put my finger on why I enjoyed it so much. It drew me in much like the painting. The author's choice of symbolism was quiet and intriguing. The book to me was a coming of age story I liked what one editor said, "when Griet was forced by Vermeer to pierce her ears, there is a symbolic deflowering of the young girl. She is forced to sacrifice her position in the household for art. And Griet is well aware of her sacrifice, ``he used what he wanted for his paintings, without considering the result''. And, ``I should have begged him not to ruin me".
Griet connected with Vermeer at the place where his heart was and her heart was too. Vermeer's wife couldn't get there and neither could the butcher boy Peter. There was more sensual excitement in the painting of the earring than the backstreet encounter with the boyfriend.
I will be thinking of this book for a while and enjoying the "small strokes of light" that will come as I decipher the different angles to look at it

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Excellent !

A truely interesting historical fiction, well narrated. It piqued my interest in Vermeer. Definitely recommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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  • Pita
  • Miami
  • 08-04-14

Delightful tale based on a great piece of art

Would you listen to Girl with a Pearl Earring again? Why?

This was an excellent read (and listen); the movie was also great. It is a short book, full of color and passion (like a good painting). Even though the broad strokes are based on fact ( the painter's family and the world in which he painted and did business are probably accurate), this is a novel...but while reading it, it is easy to believe that things happened as recounted by the author

Which scene was your favorite?

This was a very "visual" book; everything is described in vibrant detail; I have more than one favorite scene.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This was a great listen

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • GK
  • 09-15-12

Ruth Ann Phimister is Greit

If you could sum up Girl with a Pearl Earring in three words, what would they be?

Quiet Captivating Story

What other book might you compare Girl with a Pearl Earring to and why?

The Garden Party and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield. The feminine pov and great descriptive writing of fine details that are not boring. Writing of simple, everyday activities come to life and draw you in.

Have you listened to any of Ruth Ann Phimister’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, but I look forward to listening to her again if it's a book that interests me. She was perfect for this character Griet, 17th century Holland and the story.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I found it to be a relaxing audio book, yet never boring. I listened to it over the course of one day.

Any additional comments?

The book is a bit different from the film and is a wonderful adaptation. If you enjoyed the film, I'm sure you won't regret investing your time or money on the paperback or this audiobook.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jo A Lapointe
  • Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
  • 08-02-10

Wonderful story

I liked this book much more than I was expecting. The story was very well developed and all the pieces were brought together in the end. The readers voice was wonderful as the voice of the young woman and I really felt like I got in her head through her thoughts.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Enchanting Read

I rarely read books that seem to be period pieces, but this one was fairly short, so I decided to give it a try. It was well worth it.

While the story does go into information about the period, most of the story is based on the view of the main character, who is truly in a precarious situation with her love interest being her boss.

Not too sappy, the main character is intriguing enough to keep the story moving. Surprisingly good read!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Barbara
  • Marietta, GA, United States
  • 12-26-05

Ms. Chevalier's weakest effort...

I had enjoyed "Fallen Angels" so very much and "Virgin Blue" slightly less (but it was still good). I have put off seeing the film of "Girl with a Pearl Earring" until I could finish the book, but now I may never bother. What a bore this book is! About 3/4 of the way through it I recognized it as a poor retelling of "Jane Eyre", but it never deserves to be fully compared to that masterpiece. This 1st person narrative is gentle and plodding, a poor girl brought down in circumstances who must take an honest job. She thinks WAY too highly of herself and her allure; she develops "relationships" in her head which are likely passing thoughts in the minds of the men involved. The narrator does an adequate job but also seems bored. I'm so glad I read the other books first!

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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It was ok. not my favorite Tracy Chevalier title, but it was ok. Overated in my opinion.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful