Saturday, November 21, 2009

BOOK: Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland

Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland, 242 pages

4 Month Challenge: Art themed book

Originally, my biggest complaint about the book was that the picture that inspired it was not on the cover. As I looked around to find an image of the young girl looking out the window, I discovered that Vreeland follows the history of an imagined Vermeer painting. I knew what the painting looked like after reading the book, as many descriptions are contained. The image I found below was painted to be included in a Hallmark movie based on the book.

Starting in the present and working backwards in time, the eight short stories are connected only by the history and love of the painting. Everyone who owns the painting has a special connection to the painting and sees a different aspect to it. The painting was acquired in many different ways, including Nazi looting or slave owners looking to gain respectability. The book also shows how a non-authenticated painting could exist, as it passes from one owner to another.

things I liked - I liked how the painting touched something in each owner, whether a memory of a former love, the freedom of a young girl, the beauty of the painting, even just the idea that is was painted by Vermeer. By having different owners, it was possible to see the many different reactions to the beauty of the image.
- I liked seeing how the painting ended up in the homes that it did through so many different manners.

things I didn't like - It was hard to get involved with any character, as the story of each owner was so short. The obvious comparison is to Girl With Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, which also looked at how that particular Vermeer painting was done. The characters were much more developed in that book. The books have different goals so it isn't fair to compare them this way, it depends on what you want from a book.
- Since each story was so different, the mood of the book changed continuously to match the characters life.
- Nazi looting, but that isn't the fault of the book, I never like reading about Jews during the war.