Saturday, April 29, 2006
Girl in Hyanciah Blue - Susan Vreeland [May/06]
This is a reread for me, a very rare thing because I have so many books that I want to read I never feel like I can go back and read old ones. As the back of the book states:
A professor invites a colleague from the art department to his home to see a painting that he has kept secret for decades. The professor swears it is a Vermeer - why has he hidden this important work for so long? The reasons unfold in a series of stories that trace ownership of the painting back to World War II and Amsterdam, and still further back to the moment of the work's inspiration. As the painting moves through each owner's hands, what was long hidden quietly sufaces, illuminating poignant moments human lives. Vreeland's characters remind us, through their love of the mysterious painting, how beauty transforms and why we reach for it, what lasts, and what in our lives is singular and unforgettable.
The novel could be looked at as a collection of short stories with the painting being the central theme that combines them. The first chapter focuses on the painting, sets it up for us and tells us about the girl that Vermeer supposedly was meant to paint. It is also explains one man's obsession and how his father came to acquire the painting that would be their lives.
The second chapter relates to the painting, with a little girl named Hannah falling in love with it. The difference is that while there are impressions made by the girl and explanations as to how she acquired it, other things are central to the chapter. It is just simply the painting looking down on the events of a Jewish household during World War II. And one girls struggle to come to terms with the life her family finds themself in when all that they know has been changed and taken away from them.
In chapter three, the painting represents a lost love and a gift for young couple and their new future together.
Chapter four is about a scandal that comes to play when a woman falls in love with someone that is not her husband but a musician and what happens in front of the painting of the young, innocent girl in the painting.
Chapter five is about a woman and her family trapped after a massive flood. One night the painting comes to her with another special gift and the woman has to chose what is more important to her.
Chapter six is about a young woman that is very superstituous, a fact that costs her her life. Her only pleasure is the painting of the young girl over who she cries because the woman in the painting has what she wants: innocence.
Chapter seven is about the man that would paint the painting that was the basis to the entire novel.
Chapter eight reveals who the young woman in the painting is and also how the painting began its travels through the times.
All in all, as good a read the second time as the first time. You get brief glimpses into all of these lives, but they are worth it.