My mother did not tell me they were coming. Afterwards she said she did not want me to appear nervous.
–Tracy Chevalier - Girl with a pearl earring - c.1999, 2006
In seventeenth century Holland Griet is about to become a maid. She is sixteen years of age. Her father was blinded in an accident so the family are suffering financially. She will not make much money, but what little she does will help feed her parents, she will also be living where she works, so that will be one less mouth to feed.
She has been hired by the Vermeer family. Her father was a tiler and Johannes Vermeer is a member of the same guild, that is possibly why she was recommended to them. But he is also a Catholic and so lives in an area of Delft that Griet, as a Protestant, is not too familiar with.
Ever since first meeting the Vermeer’s she realised that the lady of the house might not be so easy to get along with. A suspicion that is proven correct.Supposedly this is a classic. The blurb says so. I didn’t find it so. It is well told and well written. Easy to read. But nothing really happens apart from Griet working and getting in low level trouble. Okay at some points she could have been in serious trouble, but her manner of telling her story made it feel all a bit meh to me.
I didn’t dislike it. Don’t get me wrong. And I did feel for Griet at times. The constant sexual harassment every time Vermeer’s patron showed up was awful, and her persecution by Vermeeer’s daughter. But she was so very passive. Things happened to her, she very rarely tried to do or change anything.
It was fine. And I would be interested in reading more by Chevalier, simply because it was such an easy read despite me not loving anything about it.