Yup, we’ve got that one

And more than one million more. Become a member today and read free for two weeks.

Read free for two weeks

A Dutch painting of a young girl survives three and a half centuries through loss, flood, anonymity, theft, secrecy, even the Holocaust. This is the story of its owners whose lives are influenced by its beauty and mystery. Despite their unsatisfied longings, their own and others' flaws, the girl in hyacinth blue has the power to engender love in all its human variety.

This luminous story begins in the present day, when a professor invites a colleague to his home to see a painting that he has kept secret for decades. The professor swears it is a Vermeer--but why has he hidden this important work for so long? The reasons unfold in a series of events that trace the 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 surfaces, illuminating poignant moments in multiple lives. Susan Vreeland's characters remind us, through their love of this mysterious painting, how beauty transforms and why we reach for it, what lasts and what in our lives is singular and unforgettable.

Topics: The Holocaust, Art & Artists, World War II, Family, Love, War, Inspirational, Adventurous, Multiple Perspectives, 1940s, 1990s, Holland, Amsterdam, United States of America, and Short stories

Published: RosettaBooks on
ISBN: 9780795323546
List price: $8.99
Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
Availability for Girl in Hyacinth Blue
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.
I bought this book at least four years ago--before I was on Goodreads. This means all I had to go on was the back cover copy, a quick read of the first page, and an excellent visual presentation. I should have read the reviews before beginning the book--it was not a good morning to start off with a story about the holocaust, even if it was well written and short.

As it turns out, the book is a series of short stories tracing the provenance of a mysterious Vermeer. Questions raised in each story are answered further down the line as the history is traced back to when the painting was done. Some of the stories are better than others, but it was ultimately a quick and enjoyable read.more
Intriguing collection of short stories tied together by a work of art by the talented Dutch painter, Vermeer.more
One of the single most boring books I have ever read. "Girl With A Pearl Earring" this is NOT!!!!more
A very interesting and unique treatment of the story. I thought the story started a bit slow, but then I was presently surprised after getting past first chapter. The story caught my attention and still left small pieces of the history up to my imagination.more
I loved this beautiful story following a vemeer painting through time.more
This isn't the story of Vermeer or of any particular character. Rather, it's the story of a painting. Each chapter is a short story about the people in possession of the painting and what they do with it. The book opens in the present, and each chapter then goes back another generation until you reach the end and finally meet Vermeer and his family. The only thing I wanted was a reproduction of the painting, but there aren't any notes in the book to tell you whether it actually exists or not. The cover has only a slice, not the whole thing.more
This collection of short stories begins with the reclusive owner of a beautiful painting, which he believes to be a Vermeer. The seven that follow trace the ownership of the painting back through decades. Some touch on the Holocaust, other delve into Dutch history, all the stories are connected by the common thread of the painting and the effect it has on each of its owners. There are love stories, tales of poor farmers and rich aristocrats, and even one featuring Vermeer himself. I was expecting this to be a boring read (I have no idea why), but I found myself really enjoying each account of the paintings journey through the years. Vreeland gives us a glimpse into eight very different worlds, obviously some of the tales work better than others, but all of them are interesting. She also manages to capture the reader’s attention with the first story and give the collection a sense of resolution with the final one.  more
This novel is a series of 8 short stories, some first person and others third person, surrounding a Vermeer painting and its owners from present day working back to when the work was created. The painting has a different meaning for each story's protagonist.The stories range through centuries of Dutch historyYou could see the stories as paired. "Love Enough" and "A Night Different From All Other Nights" deal with the Holocaust. "Adagia" and "Hyacinth Blue" are the least connected--both are set in the 19th century and deal with the memories of disappointed love. "Morningshine" and "From the Personal Papers of Adriaan Kuypers" are linked by a foundling. "Still Life" is Vermeer's own story and "Magdalena Looking" features his daughter, the model for the painting. I think the two opening and closing stories are the strongest.The writing style is natural and flows well, but none of the individual stories feels like a standout to me, that contains a twist or evoked sharp emotion, nor do they feel as if they together made up a whole stronger than their parts. I can't help but compare this novel to a film with a very similar theme, The Red Violin, which was much stronger both in its parts and its whole. It's not that this is a bad book--but I don't think it's striking or memorable. It was a short, quick pleasant read though that held me to the end.more
A fine book. Each chapter a story in itself. Some incredibly sad and I found the Chapter, Hyacinth Blues, hilarious!more
This was a good book, although I wasn't engaged enough in the book to read it all the way through for a long time. It sat on my night stand with other books I was reading, often passed over for something else. I finally finished it last week. The progression in time backwards over the centuries of the various owners of the painting to the point of it being painted was a good plot concept.more
You feel like you are cast back in time, living in the character's situation. Wonderful writing and atmosphere.more
Good book! I enjoyed the way the story started with the current owner of the painting, then traced it's ownership back through time. The characters at each point in time had little in common with those before and after, but all were tied together by the painting. Interesting, circular story.more
liked the book alot, very clever story. So interesting because we will travel to Amsterdam, Delft and Bruge in 2010more
I FINALLY got around to this book...ohh after a few years of sitting on my shelf. A very nice, easy read. This book is slim and takes an afternoon to read if you have one to kill!more
In Girl In Hyacinth Blue Susan Vreeland presents the reader with fragments that capture poignant moments in the lives of the various owners of an imagined Vermeer painting. The story is told in reverse chronological order tracing the painting from contemporary times back to its creation. Each chapter reveals a new character whose only connection to the proceeding character is the intense love of the painting. The characters are from very different social strata and their reasons for possession of the painting vary greatly, as do their particular personal affiliation with it. In this way, Vreeland gently invites her readers to consider the potentially universal capacity for art appreciation within the human spirit.This book explores the nature of individual responses to art by describing how each character finds personal meaning in the painting. For one man it reminds him of his first love, for a young girl it provides solace from her difficult circumstances as a persecuted Jew, for a poor woman it is the one thing of beauty in her home. Not only does Vreeland capture important moments in the characters lives, she also reveals the details of the painting to the reader gradually through the eyes of each viewer. The book culminates in a scene where Vermeer is inspired to create the painting and sets up the composition by positioning all the objects and the model.I really enjoyed this book and the way it sparked many thoughts about the role of art in individual lives. It was beautifully written and it was easy for me to engage with each of the characters even though they made short appearances in the narrative. Vreeland made the art work come to life by showing the impact that the painting had on so many different people. In fact the painting seemed more 'real' than the characters. The paintings longevity also got me thinking about the value of inanimate art objects in society. It is obvious that not only has Vreeland done a lot of research, but she has also thought deeply about the nature of art and its potential to influence human life. This little book has such a lot to say about so many topics that it makes an excellent starting point for discussion in book clubs or classrooms.more
Is it a Vermeer or isn't it? That is the thread that holds these eight short stories together. Susan Vreeland takes us on a journey back in time that starts with the current owner of a beautiful painting thought to be one of the lost paintings of the Dutch artist Vermeer. As we approach each sub-story we travel back a little further in time to each previous owner of the painting and how owning it has affected their lives. Set mostly in Holland and The Netherlands the Dutch names for places can be a bit difficult to pronounce but do not detract from the overall power of this small book. Each individual story line is easy to follow. My only question would be what ultimately happens to the current owner of the painting (who is afraid to show it to the world since his father obtained it through his position with the German police during WW II). I highly recommend this book.more
Not nearly as good as historical fiction such as Girl with a Pearl Earring. Writing is not very elegant and characters are not very well developed.more
An excellent read! This book paints portraits in the mind - masterfully capturing a series of reverse chronological relationships with a fascinating work of art. Each owner's life is beautifully detailed and brilliantly captured. As with a masterpiece painting, the momentary scene in each person's life is captured in full before moving on to the next subject. If art enriches your human experience, and If you love how a work of art can reverberate within your soul, read this book.more
This book was a powerful influence. The way Vreeland uses the connected story technique to trace a painting from its origins to its modern day owner was so unique, I had to read the book again. Recommended for all.more
Great book that follows the life of a painting from creator to owners. Reveals a colorful history & great stories interwined with historical events.more
This is *so much better* than Girl with Pearl Earring which appeared around the same time and also involves Vermeer. The Forest Lover by her is also excellentmore
What a wonderful book! As I was reading this, I couldn't help but make little comparisons between it and Girl with a Pearl Earring, a book which was quite a disappointment to me. Both books tell a (fictionalized) story of a Vermeer painting; Girl in Hyacinth Blue, with its backwards timeline, managed to grab my attention with the first story, and once I started, I ended up finishing the entire book in almost one sitting!more
Interesting story of a painting and the lives it touched. It was a little hard to follow at points as it worked its way backward from present time to its creation.more
It's difficult for me to give this book a review because I typically base my reviews on whatever expectations I had of books or movies or whatever before I read/saw them....but I don't know that I had any expectations of this book. The research was done and the book was written very well, but it didn't really suck me in as have many books in the last year. Overall, I'd say if you liked 'Girl with a Pearl Earring', this book may interest you as it deals with the same artist, but I don't think I'd recommend it to anyone.more
A collection of interconnected short stories about people who come into possession of a priceless painting, the Girl in Hyacinth Blue raises intriguing questions about how beauty affects the soul. The answers Vreeland comes up with are surprising and insightful, but the stories themselves are uneven. One or two made me close the book so I could ponder their meaning, but I found many more of them a bit dull.more
I enjoyed this history of a painting novel and the various roles the painting plays in the lives of the people who are inspired by it. I was a little upset when I realized I was only going to get a snippet of each life.more
Not the best in the whole backstory of art genre, but still very good. I especially like that the focus is on the painting's meaning to the people it belongs to through time like The Red Violin.more
A collection of short stories with a recurring theme. Look for how Vreeland works in the color blue. She evokes Dutch history so much you feel you've visited there.more
Read all 37 reviews

Reviews

I bought this book at least four years ago--before I was on Goodreads. This means all I had to go on was the back cover copy, a quick read of the first page, and an excellent visual presentation. I should have read the reviews before beginning the book--it was not a good morning to start off with a story about the holocaust, even if it was well written and short.

As it turns out, the book is a series of short stories tracing the provenance of a mysterious Vermeer. Questions raised in each story are answered further down the line as the history is traced back to when the painting was done. Some of the stories are better than others, but it was ultimately a quick and enjoyable read.more
Intriguing collection of short stories tied together by a work of art by the talented Dutch painter, Vermeer.more
One of the single most boring books I have ever read. "Girl With A Pearl Earring" this is NOT!!!!more
A very interesting and unique treatment of the story. I thought the story started a bit slow, but then I was presently surprised after getting past first chapter. The story caught my attention and still left small pieces of the history up to my imagination.more
I loved this beautiful story following a vemeer painting through time.more
This isn't the story of Vermeer or of any particular character. Rather, it's the story of a painting. Each chapter is a short story about the people in possession of the painting and what they do with it. The book opens in the present, and each chapter then goes back another generation until you reach the end and finally meet Vermeer and his family. The only thing I wanted was a reproduction of the painting, but there aren't any notes in the book to tell you whether it actually exists or not. The cover has only a slice, not the whole thing.more
This collection of short stories begins with the reclusive owner of a beautiful painting, which he believes to be a Vermeer. The seven that follow trace the ownership of the painting back through decades. Some touch on the Holocaust, other delve into Dutch history, all the stories are connected by the common thread of the painting and the effect it has on each of its owners. There are love stories, tales of poor farmers and rich aristocrats, and even one featuring Vermeer himself. I was expecting this to be a boring read (I have no idea why), but I found myself really enjoying each account of the paintings journey through the years. Vreeland gives us a glimpse into eight very different worlds, obviously some of the tales work better than others, but all of them are interesting. She also manages to capture the reader’s attention with the first story and give the collection a sense of resolution with the final one.  more
This novel is a series of 8 short stories, some first person and others third person, surrounding a Vermeer painting and its owners from present day working back to when the work was created. The painting has a different meaning for each story's protagonist.The stories range through centuries of Dutch historyYou could see the stories as paired. "Love Enough" and "A Night Different From All Other Nights" deal with the Holocaust. "Adagia" and "Hyacinth Blue" are the least connected--both are set in the 19th century and deal with the memories of disappointed love. "Morningshine" and "From the Personal Papers of Adriaan Kuypers" are linked by a foundling. "Still Life" is Vermeer's own story and "Magdalena Looking" features his daughter, the model for the painting. I think the two opening and closing stories are the strongest.The writing style is natural and flows well, but none of the individual stories feels like a standout to me, that contains a twist or evoked sharp emotion, nor do they feel as if they together made up a whole stronger than their parts. I can't help but compare this novel to a film with a very similar theme, The Red Violin, which was much stronger both in its parts and its whole. It's not that this is a bad book--but I don't think it's striking or memorable. It was a short, quick pleasant read though that held me to the end.more
A fine book. Each chapter a story in itself. Some incredibly sad and I found the Chapter, Hyacinth Blues, hilarious!more
This was a good book, although I wasn't engaged enough in the book to read it all the way through for a long time. It sat on my night stand with other books I was reading, often passed over for something else. I finally finished it last week. The progression in time backwards over the centuries of the various owners of the painting to the point of it being painted was a good plot concept.more
You feel like you are cast back in time, living in the character's situation. Wonderful writing and atmosphere.more
Good book! I enjoyed the way the story started with the current owner of the painting, then traced it's ownership back through time. The characters at each point in time had little in common with those before and after, but all were tied together by the painting. Interesting, circular story.more
liked the book alot, very clever story. So interesting because we will travel to Amsterdam, Delft and Bruge in 2010more
I FINALLY got around to this book...ohh after a few years of sitting on my shelf. A very nice, easy read. This book is slim and takes an afternoon to read if you have one to kill!more
In Girl In Hyacinth Blue Susan Vreeland presents the reader with fragments that capture poignant moments in the lives of the various owners of an imagined Vermeer painting. The story is told in reverse chronological order tracing the painting from contemporary times back to its creation. Each chapter reveals a new character whose only connection to the proceeding character is the intense love of the painting. The characters are from very different social strata and their reasons for possession of the painting vary greatly, as do their particular personal affiliation with it. In this way, Vreeland gently invites her readers to consider the potentially universal capacity for art appreciation within the human spirit.This book explores the nature of individual responses to art by describing how each character finds personal meaning in the painting. For one man it reminds him of his first love, for a young girl it provides solace from her difficult circumstances as a persecuted Jew, for a poor woman it is the one thing of beauty in her home. Not only does Vreeland capture important moments in the characters lives, she also reveals the details of the painting to the reader gradually through the eyes of each viewer. The book culminates in a scene where Vermeer is inspired to create the painting and sets up the composition by positioning all the objects and the model.I really enjoyed this book and the way it sparked many thoughts about the role of art in individual lives. It was beautifully written and it was easy for me to engage with each of the characters even though they made short appearances in the narrative. Vreeland made the art work come to life by showing the impact that the painting had on so many different people. In fact the painting seemed more 'real' than the characters. The paintings longevity also got me thinking about the value of inanimate art objects in society. It is obvious that not only has Vreeland done a lot of research, but she has also thought deeply about the nature of art and its potential to influence human life. This little book has such a lot to say about so many topics that it makes an excellent starting point for discussion in book clubs or classrooms.more
Is it a Vermeer or isn't it? That is the thread that holds these eight short stories together. Susan Vreeland takes us on a journey back in time that starts with the current owner of a beautiful painting thought to be one of the lost paintings of the Dutch artist Vermeer. As we approach each sub-story we travel back a little further in time to each previous owner of the painting and how owning it has affected their lives. Set mostly in Holland and The Netherlands the Dutch names for places can be a bit difficult to pronounce but do not detract from the overall power of this small book. Each individual story line is easy to follow. My only question would be what ultimately happens to the current owner of the painting (who is afraid to show it to the world since his father obtained it through his position with the German police during WW II). I highly recommend this book.more
Not nearly as good as historical fiction such as Girl with a Pearl Earring. Writing is not very elegant and characters are not very well developed.more
An excellent read! This book paints portraits in the mind - masterfully capturing a series of reverse chronological relationships with a fascinating work of art. Each owner's life is beautifully detailed and brilliantly captured. As with a masterpiece painting, the momentary scene in each person's life is captured in full before moving on to the next subject. If art enriches your human experience, and If you love how a work of art can reverberate within your soul, read this book.more
This book was a powerful influence. The way Vreeland uses the connected story technique to trace a painting from its origins to its modern day owner was so unique, I had to read the book again. Recommended for all.more
Great book that follows the life of a painting from creator to owners. Reveals a colorful history & great stories interwined with historical events.more
This is *so much better* than Girl with Pearl Earring which appeared around the same time and also involves Vermeer. The Forest Lover by her is also excellentmore
What a wonderful book! As I was reading this, I couldn't help but make little comparisons between it and Girl with a Pearl Earring, a book which was quite a disappointment to me. Both books tell a (fictionalized) story of a Vermeer painting; Girl in Hyacinth Blue, with its backwards timeline, managed to grab my attention with the first story, and once I started, I ended up finishing the entire book in almost one sitting!more
Interesting story of a painting and the lives it touched. It was a little hard to follow at points as it worked its way backward from present time to its creation.more
It's difficult for me to give this book a review because I typically base my reviews on whatever expectations I had of books or movies or whatever before I read/saw them....but I don't know that I had any expectations of this book. The research was done and the book was written very well, but it didn't really suck me in as have many books in the last year. Overall, I'd say if you liked 'Girl with a Pearl Earring', this book may interest you as it deals with the same artist, but I don't think I'd recommend it to anyone.more
A collection of interconnected short stories about people who come into possession of a priceless painting, the Girl in Hyacinth Blue raises intriguing questions about how beauty affects the soul. The answers Vreeland comes up with are surprising and insightful, but the stories themselves are uneven. One or two made me close the book so I could ponder their meaning, but I found many more of them a bit dull.more
I enjoyed this history of a painting novel and the various roles the painting plays in the lives of the people who are inspired by it. I was a little upset when I realized I was only going to get a snippet of each life.more
Not the best in the whole backstory of art genre, but still very good. I especially like that the focus is on the painting's meaning to the people it belongs to through time like The Red Violin.more
A collection of short stories with a recurring theme. Look for how Vreeland works in the color blue. She evokes Dutch history so much you feel you've visited there.more
Load more
scribd