In this richly imagined novel based on the life of seventeenth-century painter Johannes Vermeer, Barbara Shoup evokes the artist's world through the eyes of his favorite daughter. Willful, dreamy, not-beautiful Carelina Vermeer is a trial to her wealthy Grandmother Thins, whose efforts to make her into a proper young lady are a constant source of tension in a large, loving, but quarrelsome family. Then, early one summer morning, she follows her father to a house on the harbor where he is preparing to paint his masterpiece, View of Delft, and her real life begins.
Art lovers have been transfixed by blockbuster exhibits of Vermeer's luminous paintings, which resonate with insights into his time and ours. Now young readers can come to appreciate the power of his art through Vermeer's Daughter, the story of a gifted woman whose dreams to become a painter in her own right would not be denied.
Before me, the paintings my father made for Mijnheer van Ruijven: the world I once knew. "Extraordinarily, vigorously, and delightfully painted," according to the auction catalogue. There are twenty-one of them, and Father has been dead now twenty-one years. The paintings have fared better than we children at staying together without him. There were eleven of us when he died, and all of us have gone our separate ways. But that is another story. I have not come here to mourn the loss of my family. Nor have I come to mourn the loss of an earlier time, only to see it once more in the paintings my father made of it. And here they are, full of light. The auction house is full, the mood expectant. Who will leave with the most desirable of them when the day is through? Who will settle for the girl I once was?
Let me explain. I am not the beautiful daughter...
© Barbara Shoup 2012