To say that Susan Vreeland is just inspired by art wouldn’t be right. It’s true, but she also inspires the reader through language, vividly creating the art and bringing new meaning to the old cliché that a picture paints a thousand words.
Girl in Hyacinth Blue is the story of a painting. Not so much the painting itself, but the story of the people who own and grow to love the painting. Vreeland traces the painting’s ownership from a present day owner back to its origin. It changes hands in the most remarkable ways, all interesting snippets of history and poetically drawn. Vreeland writes almost as though she herself is painting a picture — the imagery is striking.
Girl in Hyacinth Blue is a work of art, lovingly rendered, painstakingly researched, and a delight to read. If you appreciate art, I think you will really enjoy this book. Amazon recommends this book often with Tracy Chevalier. Both writers seem enamored of the backstories behind art. Chevalier tackled this theme in two books I’ve read: The Lady and the Unicorn and Girl with a Pearl Earring (the subject of which is also Vermeer, reviewed here). If you liked those books, I recommend that you read Girl in Hyacinth Blue. It will remind you all over again of the many amazing stories that art can tell.