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Girl with a Pearl Earring [First State, Signed]: CHEVALIER, Tracy Girl with a Pearl Earring [First State, Signed]: CHEVALIER, Tracy

Girl with a Pearl Earring [First State, Signed]

CHEVALIER, Tracy

531,476 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0002258900 / ISBN 13: 9780002258906
Published by HarperCollins [Harper Collins], London, 1999
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Fine Editions Ltd (New York, NY, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

First Impression (no further printings noted), in the scarce first state dust jacket, with 'earing' misspelled on back panel. Small 8vo: [6],248,[2]pp. Publisher's French blue cloth, spine stamped in gilt (still brilliant); pictorial dust jacket, priced £9.99. Signed by Chevalier on title page. Laid in is a ticket from the literature festival in Derby where the book was autographed. Fine (small decorative book plate to front fly leaf) in about Fine jacket (tiny nick to base of spine). The author's second novel, which sold more than five million copies worldwide and was translated into 36 languages. Supposedly, a poster of Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring," hanging on Chevalier's bedroom wall for some 15 years, inspired this novel set in 17th century Delft. Chevalier was lying in bed gazing absent-mindedly at the poster when she fixed on the mysterious girl's expression (her half open mouth and expectant gaze) and decided to write the novel as a way of filling gaps in the interrupted narrative. The girl became a servant named Griet, who sits for the painting by her master wearing his wealthy wife's jewels in her ear. In the 2003 film the novel inspired, Scarlett Johansson appears as Griet, with Colin Firth as the painter of quiet domestic scenes. N. B. With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition, with dust jackets carefully preserved in archival, removable polypropylene sleeves. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed. Bookseller Inventory # BB1510

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Girl with a Pearl Earring [First State, ...

Publisher: HarperCollins [Harper Collins], London

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine-

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

Griet, a tilemaker's daughter in 17th-century Holland, starts her first job as a servant in the Vermeer household. Through Griet's eyes, the story is told of the family, the small town of Delft, and life with an obsessive genius. Griet is drawn into Vermeer's life, but there is a price to pay.

Review:

With precisely 35 canvases to his credit, the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer represents one of the great enigmas of 17th-century art. The meager facts of his biography have been gleaned from a handful of legal documents. Yet Vermeer's extraordinary paintings of domestic life, with their subtle play of light and texture, have come to define the Dutch golden age. His portrait of the anonymous Girl with a Pearl Earring has exerted a particular fascination for centuries--and it is this magnetic painting that lies at the heart of Tracy Chevalier's second novel of the same title.

Girl with a Pearl Earring centers on Vermeer's prosperous Delft household during the 1660s. When Griet, the novel's quietly perceptive heroine, is hired as a servant, turmoil follows. First, the 16-year-old narrator becomes increasingly intimate with her master. Then Vermeer employs her as his assistant--and ultimately has Griet sit for him as a model. Chevalier vividly evokes the complex domestic tensions of the household, ruled over by the painter's jealous, eternally pregnant wife and his taciturn mother-in-law. At times the relationship between servant and master seems a little anachronistic. Still, Girl with a Pearl Earring does contain a final delicious twist.

Throughout, Chevalier cultivates a limpid, painstakingly observed style, whose exactitude is an effective homage to the painter himself. Even Griet's most humdrum duties take on a high if unobtrusive gloss:

I came to love grinding the things he brought from the apothecary--bones, white lead, madder, massicot--to see how bright and pure I could get the colors. I learned that the finer the materials were ground, the deeper the color. From rough, dull grains madder became a fine bright red powder and, mixed with linseed oil, a sparkling paint. Making it and the other colors was magical.
In assembling such quotidian particulars, the author acknowledges her debt to Simon Schama's classic study The Embarrassment of Riches. Her novel also joins a crop of recent, painterly fictions, including Deborah Moggach's Tulip Fever and Susan Vreeland's Girl in Hyacinth Blue. Can novelists extract much more from the Dutch golden age? The question is an open one--but in the meantime, Girl with a Pearl Earring remains a fascinating piece of speculative historical fiction, and an appealingly new take on an old master. --Jerry Brotton

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