The novel Girl with a Pearl Earring should definitely be included on the Novel Ideas book club reading list. Elyshia Hickey reveals why this fascinating, historical and romantic story will appeal to an adolescent audience, as it explores the theme of sensual awakening. Set in 17th century Delft, Chevalier’s novel explores the deep but forbidden love between a young maid and her master. The author’s clever combination of an intriguing story, remarkable characters and descriptive language allowed her to explore the themes of forbidden love, predators and sexual desires.
For hundreds of years people have wondered who is the girl in the portrait Girl with a Pearl Earring, painted by a Dutch artist …show more content…
He was portrayed as a sleazy predator of young women. Pieter was presented as a solid, hard-working young man. Young readers could easily relate to these main characters and recognise their traits in people around them.
Chevalier style of writing was descriptive rather than emotional. She used very detailed, literal descriptions: “…the brushes arranged on the top of the cupboard, one of the cupboard’s drawers left ajar, the palette knife balanced on the easels ledge, a chair moved a little from its place by the door”. This language painted images in the reader’s mind, just as Vermeer painted on his canvas. They say a picture paints a thousand words, but in this story a thousand words painted the picture. This made it easy for young readers to visualise the characters and scenes. The author’s use of figurative language prompted empathy in the reader, for example, “I was like a dog licking its wounds to clean them, but making it worse”. However, the emotions of the characters were mostly left for the reader to infer.
The theme of young love is timeless. Young adult readers will relate to Griet’s search for true love and her sadness at having to settle for second best. Understanding what is socially unacceptable is sometimes a tough lesson to learn, especially when it involves forbidden love. For thousands of years, young women have been victims of unwanted sexual advances. Even these days, young women are the