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Expand Your Sense of What Art Is and What Roles It Plays,
This review is from: Girl in Hyacinth Blue (Audio CD)
"For how great is its goodness And how great its beauty!" -- Zechariah 9:17 (NKJV)
Just to be clear, I'm reviewing the unabridged audio CD version of Girl in Hyacinth Blue. I highly recommend listening to, rather than reading, this intriguing book. The audio version will make the insights of Ms. Vreeland's stories more accessible to you.
The Girl in Hyacinth Blue has a simple premise: Start with the current owner of a beloved painting and move back in time to learn about its previous owners and its ultimate creative origin, expressed through what the painting means to them and how it affects their lives.
Adding these dimensions to fiction about a rare (imaginary) Vermeer painting certainly expanded my horizons. Although I certainly own art that others must have possessed and valued before me, I had never given them any thought (except for a name captured in a friendly inscription). Yet they were there before me, all the time! I must also admit that I tend to focus more on how others and I react to art today, rather than how people in the past did, or how the works were created. I am extremely grateful to Ms. Vreeland for adding this perspective to my life.
Let me make a few things clear about the book that may be more important to you than they were to me. Ms. Vreeland's mastery of writing about Vermeer's work isn't that of an art historian, but it's rather more like that of an art enthusiast. If you take your commentary on art seriously, your nerves will screech a bit in places. Ms. Vreeland is also not an historian. She writes more accurately about the human heart than about the times that the fictional events took place. The experience is a bit like reading a thriller of a mystery, where you want some vivid characters, some surprises, and a gradual unveiling of an interesting set of facts and truths. Since I like mystery thrillers and collect art, the book was perfect for me.
Thank you, Ms. Vreeland! You've expanded my awareness quite a bit!