bookspacePhoto of readermy comments
 home > bookspace > my comments > comment: girl in hyacinth blue /
Subscribe via RSS 
Girl in hyacinth blue
Susan Vreeland
Adult Fiction VREELAN

Comments  Summary  Contents  Excerpt  Reviews  Author Notes

From Publishers' Weekly:

As Keats describes the scenes and lives frozen in a moment of time on his Grecian urn, so Vreeland layers moments in the lives of eight people profoundly moved and changed by a Vermeer painting a thing of beauty and a joy forever. Vreeland opens with a man who suffers through his adoration of the painting because he inherited it from his Nazi father, who stole it from a deported Jewish family. She traces the work's provenance through the centuries: the farmer's wife, the Bohemian student, the loving husband with a secret and, finally, the Girl herself Vermeer's eldest daughter, who felt her "self" obliterated by the self immortalized in paint, but accepted that this was the nature of art. Descriptions of the painting by people in different countries in various historical periods are particularly beautiful. Each section is read by a different narrator, some better than others. Several add dimension to the story and writing, while others are so intent on portraying the book's ethereal qualities they make the listener conscious of the reader instead of the language. Still, this is a delightful production. Based on the MacMurray & Beck hardcover (Forecasts, July 12, 1999). (Dec. 2001) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

"Pearls were a favorite item of Vermeer," observes Cornelius Engelbrecht, the secretive and obsessive professor whose conviction that he owns an authentic Vermeer launches Vreeland's lovely first novel. The painting, we soon discover, was taken from its proper (Jewish) owner by Engelbrecht's father, a German soldier during World War IIÄa fact that Engelbrecht struggles mightily to suppress. The one colleague to whom he shows the painting guesses the truth and derisively recommends that he burn itÄ"one good burning deserves another"Äbut we don't learn the fate of the painting. Instead, Vreeland constructs a series of vignettes, not necessarily chronological, that takes us from the rooftops of Amsterdam Jews forced to kill the pigeons they are no longer allowed to keep, to a Dutch merchant whose possession of the painting briefly complicates his marriage, to the boudoir of a French counsel's bored wife and the second story of a farmhouse in flooded Holland, and finally to the home of Vermeer himself, where art does battle with domestic necessity. Though the connections among the vignettes could be made clearer, and the ending feels abruptÄhow did that painting get from the artist to the weary professor, and what finally happens to it?Äeach vignette has the stillness, the polish, and the balanced perfection of a Vermeer. Not quite perfect, but definitely a pearl. Griet, the "girl with the pearl earring," may be a pearl herselfÄfair, soberminded, and gentleÄbut the novel in which we find her is not quite so polished. Chevalier (The Virgin Blue) writes a little plainly of her heroine, forced when her father is blinded in an accident to work as a maid in the home of Vermeer. Eventually, Vermeer asks her to pose for a paintingÄwearing his wife's earringsÄwhich causes a scandal and Griet's determined departure from the household. The artist's coaxing of the reluctant sitter is delicately rendered, but otherwise this text fails to ignite.ÄBarbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Question about returns, requests or other account details?
 Add a Comment
Submission Guidelines

Find this title in the Library Catalog
Find this title in the Library Catalog


more titles about

main characters Cornelius Engelbrecht
Male
Claims to have an unknown Vermeer painting; mathematics teacher.
Teacher



recent comments
hcl mobile app
hclib
mobile
app
Facebook Twitter Tumblr YouTube Vimeo Flickr Federal Depository Library Federal
Depository
Library
Hennepin County Government Hennepin
County
Government
© 2014  Hennepin County Library12601 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka, MN 55305 Comments and Feedback    |    RSS