Set in 17th century Holland, this novel tells the story of a young Protestant girl, Griet, who becomes a maid in the household of artist and Delft School member Johannes Vermeer. Griet, who struggles to understand her place in this strange new Catholic world, becomes Vermeer’s secret assistant. She graduates from cleaning his studio and grinding the lead for his paints to becoming the famous wide-eyed girl in his painting Girl With a Pearl Earring.
While Chevalier successfully recreates the hierarchical society in which the artist was revered and captures the simple beauty of Vermeer's portraits in stripped-down prose, I found the writing stodgy, the characters dull and the plot somewhat unbelievable. I found myself continually wondering why it was so damn important for this girl to hide the fact that she was Vermeer's assistant. Let's hope that the film is more enlightening and exciting.