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Crescent Blues Book ViewsImage:four moon gifPenguin USA (Paperback), ISBN 014029628X
Susan Vreeland's novel Girl in Hyacinth Blue received a warm and award-winning welcome in 1999. It made many "best of" lists for that year. Hallmark Hall of Fame bought the television rights and expects to air their version in late 2001 or 2002.

Book: Susan Vreeland, Girl in Hyacinth Blue Vreeland's serene work of art continues to touch readers with its simplicity, depth and beauty -- similar to the Vermeer painting, which serves as the focal point of the novel. Vreeland connects readers to the world of art in a most unusual and personal way. Through her novel she humanizes one of the masters, 17th century Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer, and demonstrates the way things -- one painting -- touches lives through the centuries.

Girl in Hyacinth Blue traces the painting, a figment of the author's imagination, through a series of eight interconnected short stories. Readers time travel through these stories from today back to the moment Vermeer created the painting of a girl lost in contemplation, her hands idle in her lap, her sewing forgotten.

While demonstrating "six degrees of separation," Vreeland connects other topics. Her depiction of the women in each story emphasizes their limited freedom and lack of control over their lives and the lives of their children. Vreeland also incorporates the horrors of the Holocaust from several perspectives, most notably the victim and victimizer and swirls it around the main character of her book -- the painting. She demonstrates how one person's evil changes forever the dynamics of those he loves.

Writing with complete self-assurance, Vreeland depicts the poignant give and take of family relationships. She paints scenes with words rather than brush and never intrudes into the reader's journey. In addition, Vreeland maintains a serenity that reassures readers. Time, she seems to say, will keep moving forward, regardless of the troubles, horrors, mistakes and disasters that plague mankind. From the 1600s to today, we keep plodding along, living our little lives simply but in a context of a bigger world.

While awaiting Vreeland's next novel (another foray into the art world concerning Artemisia Gentileschi) and Hallmark's presentation, read or reread the novel and discover why the book elicited so much praise. You will never view art the same after a trip through Girl in Hyacinth Blue.

Vreeland recommends enhancing the read with a good text on Vermeer and his work. I enjoyed reading Vreeland's novel back to back with Tracy Chevalier's novel Girl With a Pearl Earring. Chevalier's novel also focuses on Vermeer and his art, but readers see the artist through the eyes of a domestic servant and subject of one of his last paintings.

Dawn Goldsmith

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