Tracy Chevalier

Easton Press Tracy Chevalier books

Girl With the Pearl Earring - signed modern classic - 2011


Author Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier, born on October 19, 1962, in Washington, D.C., is an accomplished American-British historical novelist best known for her compelling stories that delve into the lives of individuals against the backdrop of specific historical periods or events. Chevalier's literary journey began with a degree in English from Oberlin College, followed by studies in creative writing at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. Her passion for literature and history converged, laying the foundation for her future career as a writer.

Her breakthrough came with the publication of her second novel, Girl with a Pearl Earring (1999), which was inspired by Johannes Vermeer's famous painting of the same name. The novel, set in 17th-century Delft, Netherlands, explores the life of Griet, a young girl who becomes a maid in Vermeer's household. Girl with a Pearl Earring garnered widespread acclaim for its vivid portrayal of the art world, the dynamics of power, and the complexities of relationships. Following the success of her debut, Chevalier continued to produce historical novels that resonated with readers. The Virgin Blue (2002) delves into the French religious wars of the 16th century, while The Lady and the Unicorn (2003) transports readers to medieval Paris against the backdrop of a famous set of tapestries. Chevalier's ability to weave engaging narratives around historical artifacts, artworks, and periods earned her a reputation as a skilled storyteller. Her works often feature strong, relatable female protagonists navigating the challenges of their times.

The Lady and the Unicorn

The Lady and the Unicorn is a historical novel written by Tracy Chevalier, published in 2003. The novel takes its inspiration from a set of six medieval tapestries known as "The Lady and the Unicorn," which are displayed at the Musée de Cluny in Paris. These tapestries are considered masterpieces of medieval European art. The novel is set in late 15th-century Paris and revolves around the creation of the tapestries. Chevalier weaves a fictional narrative around the actual historical mystery of the tapestries' origins, as very little is known about their commission and the identity of the lady depicted in them. The story is narrated by several characters involved in the creation of the tapestries. Nicolas des Innocents is a talented and ambitious artist who is commissioned to design the tapestries by a wealthy nobleman, Jean Le Viste. As Nicolas begins his work, he becomes entangled with the Le Viste family, including Jean's wife, Geneviève, and their daughters, Claude and Alienor. The novel explores the relationships between the characters and delves into the artistic and social dynamics of the time. As Nicolas works on the tapestries, each panel tells a different part of the story, adding layers of symbolism and meaning. The lady in the tapestries becomes a central figure, and her identity is gradually revealed. Themes of art, love, ambition, and the constraints of societal expectations are interwoven throughout the narrative. The novel provides a rich and immersive depiction of life in medieval Paris, capturing the challenges and opportunities faced by artists and the intricacies of courtly life. Tracy Chevalier's The Lady and the Unicorn is praised for its evocative storytelling, meticulous historical research, and its ability to bring to life the world behind these remarkable medieval tapestries. The novel provides readers with a glimpse into the artistic process and the personal and social dynamics that shaped the creation of these enduring works of art.

Falling Angels

Falling Angels" is a historical novel written by Tracy Chevalier, published in 2001. The novel is set in Edwardian England, specifically in the years leading up to and following the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. Chevalier's narrative explores the shifting social dynamics of the time, particularly through the experiences of two neighboring families. The story revolves around two families, the Waterhouses and the Colemans, who live in adjoining houses in a London suburb. As the novel opens, Queen Victoria has just died, and the characters are grappling with the changing societal norms of the Edwardian era. The Waterhouse family consists of Kitty, a young and curious girl, and her parents, Gertrude and Walter. Gertrude is a suffragette who becomes increasingly involved in the women's suffrage movement, challenging traditional gender roles. The Coleman family is led by Maude, a pragmatic and no-nonsense woman, and her husband, Arthur. The Colemans run a prosperous gravestone-carving business, and their son, Simon, befriends Kitty Waterhouse. The novel's title, Falling Angels, alludes to the graveyard setting and the changing societal order. The characters navigate the challenges of the suffragette movement, the impact of war, and the shifting roles of women in society. The narrative is presented through multiple perspectives, offering insights into the lives and thoughts of various characters. As the families interact and face the evolving social landscape, the novel explores themes of feminism, class, and the consequences of societal change. Tracy Chevalier's Falling Angels is known for its exploration of the Edwardian era and its attention to historical detail. The novel provides a nuanced look at the complexities of the time, using the microcosm of two families to reflect the broader shifts in English society during the early 20th century.

In addition to historical fiction, Chevalier has explored other genres and themes. The Remarkable Creatures (2009) explores the world of fossil hunting in 19th-century England, while The Last Runaway (2013) is set against the backdrop of the Underground Railroad in 1850s Ohio. Tracy Chevalier's literary contributions have been well-received by critics and readers alike. Her novels are characterized by meticulous research, a keen understanding of historical contexts, and an ability to breathe life into the past. Chevalier's works continue to captivate audiences with their immersive storytelling and exploration of the human experience against the tapestry of history.


Girl With the Pearl Earring

With precisely 35 canvases to his credit, the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer represents one of the great enigmas of 17th-century art. The meager facts of his biography have been gleaned from a handful of legal documents. Yet Vermeer's extraordinary paintings of domestic life, with their subtle play of light and texture, have come to define the Dutch golden age. His portrait of the anonymous Girl with a Pearl Earring has exerted a particular fascination for centuries and it is this magnetic painting that lies at the heart of Tracy Chevalier's second novel of the same title.

Girl with a Pearl Earring centers on Vermeer's prosperous Delft household during the 1660s. When Griet, the novel's quietly perceptive heroine, is hired as a servant, turmoil follows. First, the 16-year-old narrator becomes increasingly intimate with her master. Then Vermeer employs her as his assistant and ultimately has Griet sit for him as a model.


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