Back in 2006, I had seen Girl with a Pearl Earring, and loved it so much that I felt like reading the novel by Tracy Chevalier. I have such a pile of books awaiting, and don’t do much reading these days, I must admit. And that pile has been growing due to Christmas presents!
Anyway, I really loved Griet, the eponymous girl with a pearl earring, a maidservant at Vermeer’s. It’s written in the first person and gives you an insight into the Vermeer household. Griet’s first encounter with Vermeer who is looking for a maid, takes place while she is chopping vegetables for the soup:
I always laid vegetables out in a circle, each with its own section like a slice of pie. There were five slices: red cabbages, onions, leeks, carrots and turnips. I had used a knife edge to shape each slice, and placed a carrot disc in the center. The man tapped his finger on the table. ‘Are they laid out in the order in which they will go into the soup?’ he suggested, studying the circle. ‘No, sir.’ I hesitated. I could not say why I had laid out the vegetables as I did. I simply laid them as I felt they should be, but I was too frightened to say so to a gentleman. ‘I see you have separated the whites,’ he said, indicating the turnips and onions. ‘And then the orange and the purple, they do not sit together. Why is that?’ He picked up a shred of cabbage and a piece of carrot and shook them like dice in his hand. I looked at my mother who nodded slightly. ‘The colours fight when they are side by side, sir’.
Once I had read this (p. 5), I was caught, had to read on and found the rest of the book enthralling. Now I feel like watching the movie again. 😉 Tracy Chevalier clearly says that Girl with a Pearl Earring is a work of fiction, but her Griet sounds so true! I also felt that it taught me much about painting, mixing colours and life in Holland at the time of Vermeer. I liked it much better than Fallen Angels, another Chevalier novel I’ve read. A must read.