Jul 8th, 2011 by Lisa
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
|Girl With a Pearl Earring is a historical fiction novel about the girl in Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting by the same name. Griet is a 16 year old Dutch girl who becomes a maid in Vermeer’s household after her father loses his sight while working as a tile painter. Though she begins to make enemies in the household, Vermeer takes a liking to her. His wife, due to her clumsy behavior, is not allowed to enter Vermeer’s studio. Griet is given the task of cleaning the studio and then begins to help Vermeer with his paintings from the grinding of paints to the arrangement of background objects. However, this all must be kept a secret so they must devise excuses for Griet to go to his studio in the attic. When Vermeer’s sleazy wealthy patron requests that Griet be the subject of his next painting, their secret is at risk of being exposed.|
Book Club Party Ideas for Girl with a Pearl Earring
Vermeer, a 17th century Dutch artist, specialized in domestic scenes of women. You can draw inspiration for decorations for your book club party for Girl with a Pearl Earring from Vermeer’s paintings: a milk jug, pen and paper, pearl necklace, glass of wine and, of course, pearl earrings. Amazon has posters of his paintings for less than $10 (including shipping).
Coffee table books of Vermeer’s paintings can be used for decoration as well as a starting point to discuss his other works.
Book Club Menu for Girl with a Pearl Earring
It appears the whole Vermeer family would have beer at dinnertime: “I had bread and cheese and beer with the children.” That is one way to get all those unruly kids to bed at night.
I created a Dutch cheese plate which included Gouda, Edam and Meadowkaas. Add some pears, nuts, crackers, rye bread and you have a meal! Wash it all down with a Dutch beer such as Amstel or Heineken. Drape a cloth over the table and set it near a window to recreate the setting in many of his paintings.
Here is a little more information about the cheeses:
- Gouda, which is named after a city in the Netherlands, is a semi-hard cheese made from cows milk. It has a toffee-like flavor that goes well with fruit, dark bread, beer and wine.
- Edam is a pressed, hard cheese made from cow’s milk. It is similar to gouda, but is has less fat and more flavor. It tastes great when eaten on crackers or bread with fruit such as pears, apples and cherries. It pairs well with a Pinot Noir.
- Meadowkaas is a gouda-like cheese made from cow’s milk. It is only made during the spring when the cows are grazing on meadow grass. It pairs well with sliced pears and walnuts.
Book Club Resources
Ratings at the time this post was published
|Goodreads: 3.66 stars (58,423 ratings)|
|Amazon: 4 stars (858 ratings)|
|Barnes & Noble: 4.5 stars (356 ratings)|
Discussion Questions for Girl with a Pearl Earring
- How plausible do you think it is that this story accurately portrays the origin of the painting Girl with a Pearl Earring?
- Some have said her expression is sad or curious, others think it is seductive. What does the expression of the Girl with a Pearl Earring say to you?
- Did you find Griet a likeable character? Did she appear to have any faults?
- Who was your favorite character in the book? What made you like them? Which characters did you not care for?
- Was Vermeer and Griet’s relationship purely professional? How believable was their relationship? Since it was a maid’s duty to do as her master says, why was it necessary to keep it a secret that she was grinding paints her him?
- How did the classes interact in Girl with a Pearl Earring?
- How do you feel about Griet’s actions at the very end of the novel? What do you think motivated her to do what she did?
Purchase Girl with a Pearl Earring at your favorite bookseller
From Tracy Chevalier’s website: “I was born in 1962 and grew up in Washington, DC. I have a BA in English from Oberlin College, Ohio, and an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England. I have lived in London for over 20 years, and am married, with one son. I was a reference book editor for several years before turning to writing full-time. My second novel, Girl with a Pearl Earring, won the Barnes and Noble Discover Award. It has sold almost 4 million copies worldwide and was made into a film starring Colin Firth and Scarlett Johansson.”
Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award
Orange Prize for Fiction: Nominee
NYPL Books to Remember
Personal Insights, Favorite Quotes, etc…
For more information about Vermeer click on the resources below:
- Essential Vermeer – for possibly everything that is known about Vermeer
- Complete catalogue of his paintings
My favorite quote of the book is “Only children and thieves run.” My how times have changed.
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