Date: February 10 2005
Tracy Chevalier is a novelist as adept at revealing historical periods as she is at capturing the complexities of her characters. In her best-selling Girl with a Pearl Earring (2000), set in seventeenth-century Holland, she traces the coming of age of Griet, a young servant for Johannes Vermeer who becomes the subject of one of his famous paintings. The New Yorker wrote, “[Chevalier] creates a world reminiscent of a Vermeer interior: suspended in a particular moment, it transcends time and place,” and Time called the novel “an exquisitely controlled exercise that illustrates how temptation is restrained for the sake of art.” Her latest novel, The Lady and the Unicorn (2003), is inspired by six tapestries from the Middle Ages that hang in the Musée de Cluny in Paris. The stories within these tapestries provide counterpoints to the lives of the novel’s four main female characters? Claude, Alienor and Christine. Chevalier applies skills as a researcher to create richly detailed works exploring history and character, religion and secularism, class divisions and proscriptive sexual mores. The author of two other historical novels, Fallen Angels (2001) and The Virgin Blue (1997), she currently resides in London.