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Monday, April 30, 2012

Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Susan Vreeland

I was blown away by this book. And yet once again reading one book has paradoxically added to my TBR list. I'll be on the lookout for more books by Ms. Vreeland. Girl in Hyacinth Blue tells the story of a painting by Vermeer. It tells the story in reverse chronological order, from the viewpoint of its various owners, tracing the story from the present-day right back to the moment the painting was inspired. I was very impressed by the rich characterization Ms. Vreeland achieved. Her characters seemed alive and real and wholly believable, and each one was unique. We see from their thoughts how the painting impacted them, how they acquired it, why they parted with it. I found a common theme running through each character: longing. Longing that put me in mind of C.S. Lewis's 'northernness,' and my own youthful longing the object of which I was then too young to identify, and my yearning of today for Glory (no, not fame, but Heaven). This book nearly broke my heart, and yet satisfied me, too. I would recommend this book to anyone who reads fiction, and who is strong enough to read a heart-breaking book. I was not strong enough when I was young. As a side note, as I am typing this it shows paragraph breaks, but when I ask to 'preview' it, it displays without paragraph breaks. I am not quite sure how it will look when published. I apologize in advance if it does not have paragraph breaks. I don't know what to do to ensure it gets the breaks when published.


  1. I still can't deal with an unhappy ending, so I'll have to pass. Real life has enough unhappiness. I want that happy ending at least in the books I read. ;-)

  2. I found myself wondering what such a beautifully poignant book written by the equally skillful pen of a committed Christian (I should say that I know nothing about Ms. Vreeland's spiritual state) would look like. Heartbreak healed by grace. Yearning answered by love. There will always be something lacking in the love of one human for another human, but the love of God for his people is beautiful beyond words.

  3. I think it also depends how the author presents some of these foolish decisions people make. I remember reading a P D James book a while back and the person who was murdered had a wife....and a mistress. However, as the investigation in the death of the protagonist progressed, it became quite clear what a sad, wasted life the mistress had made in waiting for a married man who, of course, was misunderstood by his wife. I thought the 'mistress' situation was painted as it really is-- a foolish, destructive choice.