Chevalier imagines the Vermeer painting's young subject as 16-year-old Griet – the daughter of a painter whose family is thrown into poverty by his sudden blindness. In desperation, the family sends Griet to work as a housemaid in the home of Johannes Vermeer. Griet there encounters about 170 pages' worth of discomforts – from fearing the family's Catholic faith to finding virtually everyone in the household unpleasant. Vermeer's wife, Catherina, envies her; his mother-in-law, Maria Thins, intimidates her; and his tiresome daughters pester her. Longsuffering Griet tolerates these irritations in silence out of devotion to her master who, for no comprehensible reason, enlists Griet to help him with his art. She buys his supplies, mixes his paints, and begins advising him on ways to improve his work. All the while she is falling into a sort of canine awe of him. Eventually he is moved to paint her wearing his wife's earrings – presumably because he finds Griet more attractive and engaging than the shrew to whom he is married, though we know from the outset this move is destined to end very badly.
This report prepared by Jennifer Martin-Romme
Girl with a Pearl Earring tracks the coming of age of a teenage girl, Griet, given as a servant to the family of famous painter, Vermeer. The novel revolving around the painting Vermeer created of "The Girl with a Pearl Earring," the entire plot builds up to the modeling and painting of Griet, the maidservant become an artist's canvas subject. There is a tension between Griet's duty to support her family, as her father's work accident has permanently blinded him, and a desire to remain close to those who love her, and steadfast to her origins. This is Griet's first encounter with men, the prospects of marriage to a butcher's son, an unattainable artist, and a queasy physical harassment by the nobleman and benefactor to Vermeer. A jealous wife, obstinate and nosy Vermeer child, and the queasy benefactor, entrap Griet in a web of danger. The motivations for her final choice reveals the complications of even simple life, and the duties we have to our families and morals.
This report prepared by Melanie Burke
At age sixteen, Griet is sent to be a maid in Johannes Vermeer's household because her father is unable to work. She becomes more comfortable with her new home than her parents' house, where she finds that fame does not equal riches. Griet assists Vermeer in his paintings, eventually posing for him, but must hide her new work from her mistress and the sneaky children ready to sabotage her.
This report prepared by Jessica Marler