The girl in the painting, according to the book, is 16-year-old maid, Griet. She then starts from just serving the family, cleaning the house, doing laundry, and other household chores to becoming Vermeer’s assistant.
As for every book I have read, I try to write down both the positive and negative things about it. And for this review, I’ll start with the positives.
I do like the way the author writes, especially her descriptions and attention to detail; they were just right and not over the top. This is true most especially when she describes the landscapes, clothes, and settings. It is almost as if you yourself are actually in that era in Delft, living the life of Griet. This is also true every time she talks about the different uses of the paints and colors. I found them very interesting. Generally, this read is not boring because she writes very well and the concept of the book is mysterious and new.
As for the negatives, ::may contain spoilers:: I do have to say that the ending was too abrupt and sudden. There are many loose ends. I also did not like most of the characters except for Maria Thins and Vermeer. The rest of them are either intentionally annoying or unintentionally uninteresting. I did not even like Griet, the main protagonist, at times. Although she was incredibly interesting and alive in this book, her character was overall unconvincing. For me, it was not so believable that a maid that has been said could not speak, write, interpret that well, and has no educational background whatsoever, was able to assist a talented painter by giving such knowledgeable and effective input. Maybe if she just gave little but helpful advices and tips here and there, it would have been more believable. But she was actually giving very, very credible help. But then again, maybe it is just me.
THE CONSENSUS: It was a good read; I liked it. But it’s the type of book that I probably would not be so enthusiastic picking up and reading over again. It is a fresh take on a mysterious historical painting, mixed with Chevalier’s intricate writing. However, if you don’t like rushed endings with loose ends left, then this book is probably not for you.