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Tracy Chevalier is a writer of serious historical fiction, by which I don't mean that it's all doom, gloom and not a smile anywhere, but rather that she takes a theme, works it - without sexing it up or having her characters act in an incongrously modern manner and when it works the result is a slow burning, very well written, completely compulsive read. This book is about the Goodenough family, the warring parents James and Sadie who are trying to make a life homesteading in the Black Swamp in Ohio in the 1830s and their youngest son Robert, trying to survive during the time of the Californian Gold Rush. James is passionate about apples and the orchard he is trying to grow in unwelcoming ground (there is a lot about grafting trees and other tree lore but I didn't find it too much) and Robert is the only one of his children to have inherited his skill with trees. It's difficult to say why this book worked so well, Sadie was such and tiresome and unpleasant charecter that the earlier sections could sometimes be difficut to read and Robert drifts from one thing to the next but the mmentum keeps on building and it ends up by being hard to put down. I wouldn't say it's the best of her novels, for me that's Remarkable Creatures, but it's still very good.
Rescued Thread: Girl with a Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier - 1999 #1 12th December 2005, 04:31 PM Cathy Subscriber and Permanent Resident Join Date: Mar 2005 Location: Glasgow Posts: 1,451 Thumbs up - Girl with a Pearl Earring I can't find another thread about this book, though I can't believe no one else has read it! Firstly, I don't think you have to know anything about the artist Vermeer to enjoy the book, I saw the film first which helped with the background, but as a book in itself its a good read and really evokes the look and feel of the paintings and the city of Delft and the uncomfortable feel of the artist's house. Most of all, the book paints a picture of the cold, uncomfortable work of a maid and a charged atmosphere between her and Vermeer. I found myself looking back at the cover a lot to see if I could see what the book was describing, especially during the painting of the picture itself. I must also recommend the film, although it alters the plot a little (and I prefer the book i that respect) it perfectly captures the feel of the book and again of the style of Vermeer's paintings with the use of light and colour etc. After seeing the film I actually spotted a Vermeer just by how it looked, before looking at the art gallery spiel, so it must be pretty good. __________________ Currently Reading: The Road Ahead by Bill Gates, not sure if its a real read or a uni one. --------------------------------------------- #2 12th December 2005, 05:23 PM elfstar Subscriber and Permanent Resident Join Date: Feb 2005 Location: west midlands Posts: 903 I loved this book. And I enjoyed the film. I knew some Vermeers ,of course, but this made me re-evaluate and appreciate them SO much more. --------------------------------------------- #3 12th December 2005, 06:32 PM Claire Founder Member Join Date: Jan 2005 Location: West Yorkshire Posts: 1,069 I loved this book too. I didn't know much at all about Vemeer and his paintings before I started it. It was wonderful, really, really wonderful. I'd love to reread it, but I almost daren't - just in case it doesn't live up to my memory of it and I'm disappointed My impression was that the style of writing was beautifully simple as well. --------------------------------------------- #4 12th December 2005, 07:10 PM David Subscriber and Permanent Resident Join Date: Feb 2005 Location: South Coast of England Posts: 2,575 Excellent book. Keep meaning to read another Chevalier, but never get round to it. The simple style and careful detail about Griet's life in Delft was compelling, but what I ultimately enjoyed most was the atmosphere between Griet and Vermeer. This was constructed and developed by such slow and careful degrees that it felt utterly credible. The most fascinating part about it, though, was how the sense of attraction to Griet and obsession with getting the painting right intertwined alomst inextricably. You couldn't tell where one ended and the other began. The resolution therefore held my interest and felt entirely appropriate and a telling insight into the process of an artist's emotional investment in his work. The changing symbolic uses of the earring were also deftly handled. Interestingly, I believe that is the only one of Vermeer's paintings not to have any background details, focusing remorselessly on the subject, to the exclusion of all else. It seemed an inspired choice by Chevalier, therefore, as the painting whose genesis she would imagine. I also enjoyed the film, which was beautifully shot and performed a fair job of interpreting the book, but I don't think it adequately captured the intensity of that atmosphere between them. Without Griet's narrative I think that was probably impossible. --------------------------------------------- #5 13th December 2005, 09:07 PM Hilary Senior Member Join Date: Feb 2005 Location: Lancashire UK Posts: 123 I loved this book too, it was bought for me by my sister Claire who I see on this thread too. Funnily enough, I am gripped by the same fear of rereading it in case I am disappointed that it isn't as enchanting second time around. I knew a little of the artist before reading but not a lot, though I did read up a bit in art books as I went along. I also daren't see the film in case it is a disappointment ~ I'm not a film person so they almost always are. (latest P + P being a good example) __________________ Currently reading - Father Brown Stories, GK Chesterton Just finished - Rebecca ~ Daphne Du Maurier, Frenchman's Creek by the same. My website: http://www.christianmums.com --------------------------------------------- #6 14th December 2005, 09:11 AM Claire Founder Member Join Date: Jan 2005 Location: West Yorkshire Posts: 1,069 Hi Hilary - you weren't the only person I bought it for that Christmas! I was pretty restrained not buying it for every single person I knew! For those nervous of being disappointed by reading other novels by Tracy Chevalier, can I recommend Falling Angels . I expected to be disappointed, and started it with some trepidation, but it was equally enchanting, though in a different period and a slightly different style. Well worth the risk, I reckon.
Tracy Chevalier - The Virgin Blue - 1997 I was just reminded of this book when reading Labyrinth because both novels are situated in France (well, partly) and both novels occur over different centuries.I loved this book - as I liked Girl with a Pearl Earring. If you are interested in reading about people in former time, especially, how women used to live, this is the book for you. Has anyone else read it? (thread first started 03.08.06)
I hardly wanted to read this book. Girl with a Pearl Earring was so perfect, I thought this was bound to be a disappointment by comparison. But it was good. I loved the portrayal of the pressures and quirks and unrest in our society just after the death of Queen Victoria - and the fact that most of the novel took place in a cemetary! The exploration of the different views of death and sex and women worked well, but in some ways I was more aware of all that, than the actual story itself. I guess I was most moved by the character of Kitty Coleman and her frustrations and her strained relationships with her daughter, Maude. What did other people think of her? I didn't find her entirely likeable, but I did so want her to find the fulfillment she was looking for, somehow. Loved this book - do read it, everyone! I also have a sudden urge to go and wander around Bradford's large victorian cemetary, to look at the angels! Who else has read this? Do come and comment. Megustaleer, where are you