Girl in Hyacinth Blue ~ Susan Vreeland ~ 5/03 ~ Fiction
March 17, 2003 - 02:54 pm

The Girl in Hyacinth Blue

From the publisher:

There are only 35 known Vermeers extant in the world today. In Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Susan Vreeland posits the existence of a 36th. 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. 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.

The author, Susan Vreeland, has graciously agreed to join this group, in a limited way, when we begin on May 1. We ask everyone to please read all the information on Ms. Vreeland's website to avoid repetition.
Girl in Hyacinth Blue

"Intelligent, searching, and unusual... . Like the painting it describes so well, [the novel] has a way of lingering in the reader's mind." ——The New York Times Book Review

"Stunning ... Haunting" ——San Francisco Chronicle

Interesting Links

N.Y. Times Review

About Vermeer's paintings

Excellent thumbnail pictures of Vermeer's paintings

Interview of the author with Linda M. Castellita, from



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Readers' Guide for Girl in Hyacinth Blue

March 17, 2003 - 04:00 pm
Hello, everyone! This is a fabulous book, a collection of stories with an interrelated plot, one that I think you readers will simply rave about! Come and join us in a discussion of this book, and if we get enough posters interested to make a quorum, we can start in May! Please post here and tell us your intentions.


March 18, 2003 - 01:07 pm
OK I'm in but I'm confused. We had Moby Dick, now we've moved that one. Girl In HyaCinth.. will be WHEN?

March 18, 2003 - 04:46 pm
It will be may, Andy. It will be running in tandem with one of the Great Books, the ongoing Dante's Inferno. I'm told that one will be running from April through early June, perhaps.

March 19, 2003 - 12:39 am

I would like to join the discussion. I have the book but have never read it. I love art and would like to learn more.

March 19, 2003 - 08:58 am
HATS!! This is wonderful! I am so glad to see your name here, and I know you will love this book. I was just about to send you an email about the following:



March 19, 2003 - 09:05 am

That is so exciting!!! Can't wait!!

Traude S
March 19, 2003 - 10:30 am
LORRIE, I will be on board for sure. It will be super to count among us - with much gratitude - dedicated, inveterate "core" participants like HATS.

March 19, 2003 - 10:35 am
Traude, thank you. I will enjoy being with you again.

March 19, 2003 - 02:19 pm
Wunderbar! We have our quorum, Hats, Traude, and Alf, so now we can get going with the preparation for this great book! Any more of you good people out there anxious to come in and share a few thoughts with the author of these lovely stories? One of our Hosts has kindly agreed to mention this discussion in her Arts folder, and that will help attract people, especially art-lovers!


Incidentally, if anyone is interested, Half/price has this book for sale, the paperback version, aat a very reasonable rate. It will definitely be May 1, so you can arrange with your library, also.

March 21, 2003 - 12:48 pm
I would like to be a part of this discussion. I saw the Hallmark Production and was fascinated with the story. I'm subscribing to this Discussion now - and will see you in May, by which time I will try to have read the book.


March 21, 2003 - 04:46 pm

March 21, 2003 - 07:27 pm
Callie, and Nettie!! This is great, I am looking forward to seeing your names here. We will be working soon on a new heading with lots and lots of interesting links. Please stay tuned to this station for updates!


March 21, 2003 - 09:51 pm
I wish I had seen the tv movie based on this book.

March 22, 2003 - 09:05 am
EmmaBarb, I missed it too. I heard it was a welcome relief from the current TV fare of violence and sex, and most of the people I talked to liked the Hallmark presentation very much. You know, Emma, these broadcast channels often do a rerun of their plays, usually in the slow summer months, so let's keep our eyes peeled, okay?

At any rate, we will be happy to see you join in.


March 22, 2003 - 06:16 pm
Lorrie, if they rebroadcast the show I hope someone will mention it here. I think the title of the Hallmark presentation is different that the book?
I'm about half way through the book I'm reading now but plan to look for the "Girl in Hyacinth Blue" as it sounds like something I would enjoy.
One of the art museum catalogs I received always has the Vermeer pearl earrings for sale.

Gail T.
March 25, 2003 - 04:57 pm
I'd like to be counted in. I haven't read this book but read her "The Passion of Artemisia," which was really a fascinating book that I couldn't put down. And I learned so much. I think it will be wonderful to have the author on board with us.

March 25, 2003 - 10:42 pm
Emma Barb and Gail:

This is great, we are starting to get a good group together here. Keep watching this page for uptodate bulletins and other points of importance. Incidentally, Emma, the name of that Hallmark TV presentation was "Brush With Fate," and I understand it got good reviews. I have been trying to find that tape at a reasonable price, and if I do I will pass it around to our posters who are interested.


March 26, 2003 - 08:49 am
Lorrie - put in an order at the Library yesterday!

March 26, 2003 - 09:54 am

Good on you, as our friends "down under" would say!


March 26, 2003 - 10:01 am
Yesterday I learned there are several copies of Vreeland's book in regional libraries, but not this one, so I put in a request for it.

March 26, 2003 - 01:34 pm
That's great, rubicon! Perhaps this is one of the advantages of having a later date scheduled for a book discussion. Especially when it comes to getting books from libraries.


March 26, 2003 - 09:38 pm
I do believe this is the same Steven Levin who did the painting on the cover of the book. Aren't they lovely. He cites Vermeer, Rembrandt and Hopper among those of the Masters whose work left a mark on his own development.

April 1, 2003 - 10:04 pm
When I was in contact with Ms. Vreeland, and we talked about her joining us, she made a sensible request, I thought. She asks that we all read her information on her website, book reviews, biography, and anything else relating to this particular book. Ms. Vreeland thinks that will keep some of the questions she will be asked from becoming redundant. Here is the link:

(Susan Vreeland's website)


April 2, 2003 - 11:49 am
Hello, the book Girl in Hyacinth Blue sounds interesting and hopefully well writtin. I am interested in joining in the discussion group. Where do I find the book: is it online? Do I need to purchase a copy to read? First time at this so need a few pointers.

April 2, 2003 - 01:17 pm

Unfortunately, the book "Girl in Hyacinth Blue" is not available online, so most of our posters reserve a copy from their library or ouchase it outright. Yes, it's almost essential to have the book and have it available for reference as we discuss it.

We generally make a schedule for the discussion, sometimes three of four chapters at a time, to be talked about as we go along, and everyone is invited to post whatever thoughts they would like to in regard to the book and its characters.

Personally I usually like to read along with the other posters, mainly because I'm afraid I might give something away, but in this case I am reading the book in its entirety., to get a feel of the various characters.

Please join us, Jill, I promis we do not bite, and if you have any questions at all don't hesitate to ask. We all would love to help.


Here's a link for some reasonable prices for the book, used:

Amazon's Used Books

April 4, 2003 - 04:03 pm
SO! How do you like our new heading? I had such wonderful help from another one of our "technical assistants" in our group, and I think he did a marvelous job, don't you? Thank you, Theron!


I wanted to ask how many of you had seen the Hallmark presentation on TV of this story, only it was called "Brush With Fate." Unlike some authors, Ms. Vreeland apparently found no fault with the screen rendition of her novel.


April 4, 2003 - 05:23 pm
Lorrie ~ the heading is lovely ! That's the exact cover on my book. I've not seen the TV story of this but am in the process of searching for a DVD or video of it to view. The book is on my coffee table and I'm tempted to start reading it but am in the middle of The Mitford Sisters Sage and read the first chapter of Madame Bovary. What I need is more time as well as better eyesight

April 4, 2003 - 07:09 pm
Hi, EmmaBarb Like you, I need more reading time. One of my biggest problems is whenever I settle down to read three or four chapters of a book at bedtime, I invariably fall asleep after only a page or two.

I noticed on the Hallmark website, I think it was, they were selling the video of this movie for about $14.95, but I am too stingy to pay that and will wait and try to find one second-hand. (snicker)


April 4, 2003 - 07:14 pm
LORRIE: I saw "Brush With Fate" and enjoyed it very much. I have checked the book out and am about ready to start reading it.

April 4, 2003 - 07:32 pm
Callie, that's wonderful! I will be posting a schedule up above soon. I am just starting to read the book. I have the paperback edition, and there is a picture on the cover just like the one above, that I find very intriguing. It is so simple, yet somehow touching, in a way. I can't wait to read more about this girl.

I strongly recommend that all of you read the interview of Susan Vreeland, with Linda Castellito. (The link is in the heading) This article is much more revealing about the author than that somewhat skimpy biography I read earlier. Ms. Vreeland suggests that, also, so that when she is asked any questions they won't be repetetive.

I don't know exactly when she will be joining us, but whenever it is, we will all be delighted to see her post.


kiwi lady
April 8, 2003 - 04:07 pm
I hope I will be joining you in this discussion. I am determined to do only one book discussion per month I have been a bit optimistic in thinking I can manage two with other interests beckoning as well at the moment. This book looks very interesting.


April 8, 2003 - 04:15 pm
Our library called me today - and I will go pick up the book tomorrow, so please include me in on this discussion (my first). Have read so many good books wishing there was someone to share it with - and now, finally! Thanks for this great site - Carola

April 8, 2003 - 05:18 pm
Greetings, Carola!

I am so glad you have the book, we are looking forward to this discussion, and time is slowly creeping up to our deadline!


April 12, 2003 - 01:41 pm
Just got the book yesterday and will be reading it in anticipation of the May discussion!

kiwi lady
April 12, 2003 - 06:22 pm
I read Susan's bio and what an inspirational story. I emailed her and said I hoped one day she would do her autobiography and I received a lovely email back. What a nice lady! She certainly does not have an over inflated ego. I was really touched that she personally emailed me back. I am really looking forward to the book. I dabble with writing myself and she has given me the inspiration to write a story I hope will be my best. It is a true story from our family history and is very touching. However as the main character is not alive today I need to go to the library and do some intensive historical research. This is not a novel I am writing but a lengthy short story I will submit it to Sonata when I finish it.


April 17, 2003 - 10:18 pm
Carolyn, doesn't she sound nice! I am so looking forward to talking to Ms. Vreeland when we begin our discussion, although I have no idea when she will be joinging it---what day, I mean!

Sarah, I'm so glad you will be joining us. It's so good to see your name.

Perhaps you noticed our tentative schedule up in the heading? I thought we could try doing two stories a week, there are eight altogether in the book, and that should take us through the month nicely.

In my paperback version, in the back of the book there is a personal interview with the author, and I suggest you all read it, it's really interesting.

Time's nearing!


Barbara St. Aubrey
April 18, 2003 - 03:10 am
Bought my book tonight - hehehe- thank goodness it wasn't me - the salesgirl helping me pulled the book off the shelf - the cover with the cut out caught in another cover and ripped - and so she took 20% off - a little scotch tape on the inside and the outside looks almost as good as new -

I am anxious to get started reading but I am in the middle of Bovary - this looks to be a quick read though -

Lorrie is Ms. Vreeland any relation to - oh I do not remember her first name - a Vreeland in fashion and literary circles in New York City back during the Jacky Kennedy days and before - the Ms. Vreeland I am thinking of had pulled her very dark hair back and wore a lot of red - a very elegant and dramatic looking women -

April 18, 2003 - 08:51 am
Barbara, I wish I could tell you the answer to that. Personally, I can't remember the person you are describing, but that doesn't mean anything these days. Why not ask Ms. Vreeland herself? I don't think we could find that in her bio>


April 18, 2003 - 08:54 am
The name "Diana Vreeland" popped into my mind when I read Barbara's post, but I don't remember just who she was.

April 18, 2003 - 09:45 am
I got the same "Diana Vreeland" vibes, but couldn't remember anything. Here's the first link from Google...

April 18, 2003 - 10:17 am
I just started this wonderful book yesterday and am hoping to be finished before the discussion starts. I rarely find a book anymore that I have trouble putting down but I believe this is one of them. I have read halfway through and am looking forward to more free time for reading.

April 18, 2003 - 11:22 am
I too have the book and am looking forward to reading it. I still have several nights of reading Madame Bovary before I will take up this new book. I do hope Ms. Vreeland's feeling well these days?

Barbara St. Aubrey
April 18, 2003 - 05:08 pm
Oh yes - what a wonderful link - I had to bookmark it - Yes, Diana Vreeland - bless you - you nailed my description - wasn't she the most elegant women - oh even Jackie Kennedy could not match her elegance and sense of theater. Where I never imagined living as she lived it was wonderful to know some people lived in the same world as I lived choosing to surround themselves in such drama as well as be the person that could live in these surroundings. Now I wonder if Susan Vreeland is related to Diana Vreeland.

Susan Vreeland
April 19, 2003 - 09:55 pm
Whew! I did it. I got through the unfamiliar pages and here I am. I hope I can duplicate this process. Lorrie, I like your idea of focusing on two stories per week in May. Then discussion won't be all over the board. And to you dear readers, thank you for joining us. I hope the reading experience will be enjoyable, thought provoking, and worthy of sharing with others. I think if you thoroughly explore my website, before you post, and as you read, it will mean more to you. Just click on the Girl in Hyacinth Blue cover to gain access to reviews, genesis of the book, background on Vermeer, etc. Even if you're not a teacher, you might check out the teacher's guide because it has many discussion topics that you might toss around amongst yourselves. Also, pay particular attention to the Author's Bio section. It's a long one, written in narrative style, because it was written for a library reference series called Contemporary Authors. If you do this website experience first, before you post questions, it will prevent me having to write out answers that are on the website. Thanks. I'll try to time my reading of the entries and my answers to the end of each week's discussion of two stories so that you can react and comment among yourselves before I come on the scene. All good wishes for an enjoyable experience, Susan

Susan Vreeland
April 19, 2003 - 10:02 pm
Alas, I am not related to Diana Vreeland, that I know of. I have an email friend, Gayle Vreeland, (who may be joining the discussion), who thinks that it's likely that all Vreeland's are distant relations. I like to think that way too, in relation to Diana and Gayle. As to the other question, I am fine, and healthy now. I've been in remission nearly six years so all that is in the past. Thank you for asking. Susan

April 19, 2003 - 10:27 pm
Welcome Susan to Senior Net Books and Literature.

I intend to get Girl in Hyacinth Blue and enjoy. Thanks for being here.

Susan Vreeland Web Site


April 19, 2003 - 11:06 pm

We are delighted that you will join us, and I think I can speak for the others in saying we appreciate your very reasonable post above. I must confess that I am still reading the last two segments of the book, and I am hoping that there will still be time before May 1 for me to go back and reread a lot, something I do often. It's a wonderful read.

Also, I don't think I have to remind you all that, if possible, we try not to jump ahead of the scheduled segments, because many of our posters like to read the book as we go along.

I am so pleased to have you with us, Susan!


April 19, 2003 - 11:34 pm
Susan Vreeland ~ Hello and welcome to SeniorNet and the discussion of your book ! So glad you are fine and feeling well now. I am looking forward to reading the "Girl in Hyacinth Blue".

April 20, 2003 - 09:42 am
Hello from Oklahoma, SUSAN. I enjoyed reading "Girl In Hyacinth Blue" after I had seen the Hallmark presentation on television. I'm looking forward to the discussion in May.

April 22, 2003 - 08:30 pm
I finished our book this afternoon, and I'm getting excited about starting the discussion. I'm a painter, and Vermeer has long been one of my favorites. The book is excellent - I'll reread it as the discussion goes along. Great choice, and thanks to whoever recommended it.

April 22, 2003 - 08:34 pm
Susan Vreeland ~ I'm curious about the artist "Steven Levin" who did the painting on the cover of your book. Did you select him or what? I've looked at some of his paintings on line and they are beautiful. He certainly captured the style of Vermeer.

April 22, 2003 - 09:42 pm

I think it's of interest to note that you are a painter, and I would be willing to wager that many of our posters coming in here are either actual painters, also, or have a deep love of painted canvases, among other things.


You are another art lover, judging by your tag line up above? Well, good. That is a very good question. I am curious about that artist, also, his name is Steven levin?

If we do not hear from Ms. Vreeland immediately as we post a question, please do not lose patience. Susan told me when she agreed to come in here that she is very, very busy, and that her time is limited. We will appreciate any bit she can spare.


April 23, 2003 - 04:22 am
The copy of the book you so kindly sent has arrived!

April 23, 2003 - 06:47 am
Because I love Vermeer, the premise that an unknown painting of his existed was more than I could resist. And Ms Vreeland's book certainly lived up to my hopes and expectations.

Susan Vreeland
April 27, 2003 - 02:40 pm
To Emma Barb and others interested in the cover: No I had nothing to do with it. Rarely do authors have an opportunity even to give input to a publisher's design team. I was pleased with this cover and with Steven Levin's work. My take on it is that this is the moment just before Vermeer says to his daughter, "If you sit here, I will paint you, Magdalena. But only if you stop that shouting. (P. 220-222 or thereabouts) In front of her, framed is a mirror, but our viewpoint is behind her, and what she sees in the mirror is behind both of us, presumably Vermeer's easel. She will sit in that chair by the window to pose for him. Notice that the lelements in that painting are in his others works. Susan

April 27, 2003 - 02:54 pm
Thank you, Susan. What struck me about the painting in the cover for the book was the vivid shade of blue. Hyacinth blue, indeed, a very apt description!

Thursday is fast approaching, and I am looking forward to seeing you all in here when we begin our discussion. I will be sending out a brief reminder to some of the posters, but judging from the statements so far I think most of you will not need any prodding.


April 27, 2003 - 03:32 pm
Sarah T, are you there? Do I have an incorrect email address for you? Your letter from me came back, but it could be I had a typo. Please email your correct address and i will change it. We can't lose our Sarah!!


April 27, 2003 - 04:31 pm
Thanks for the email reminder - I didn't realize you were up and running. Have never enjoyed the opportunity for a book discussion and am thrilled that there is one for this most tantalizing story. Should be great with Ms Vreeland's visits - see you Thursday. Sue

April 27, 2003 - 06:20 pm
Thanks for the note, Lorrie. I will have out-of-town company until Saturday, but plan to join in after next weekend.

April 27, 2003 - 07:37 pm
This sounds like both a book and a discussion I would enjoy..I know I will peek in and eventually read the book but I leave May 4th and will be away for two weeks. I have spent two weeks trying to get ready and while I will have my laptop with me I wont have time to read or keep up but will check in when I can just to see how it goes. You all have a great time and I only wish I could truly join in..anna

April 27, 2003 - 10:06 pm
OKAY, Sue and Callie! I'll be looking for you when we begin.

Annafair, never mind, perhaps you can peek in when you return, and say a few words. In the meantime, have a great time!


April 27, 2003 - 10:49 pm
Hi Lorrie,

Thank you for the invitation. I am very excited to be here with Susan Vreeland. The book is wonderful. Each chapter is very thought provoking. Lorrie, I am anxious to hear the comments from Susan Vreeland and the group. Also, I have enjoyed Susan Vreeland's website. I make return visits there while reading the book.

April 28, 2003 - 07:04 am
That's great, Hats! I, too, have found that website to be full of good information. Right now I've been reading up on the artist Vermeer, and not only was he a gifted painter but he had an interesting home life, also. I must admit I am abysmally ignorant when it comes to Art, but I do enjoy reading about these painters. Some of them were flamboyant, indeed.

I especially like the thumbnail pictures by Vermeer that are shown in the link above in the heading.


April 28, 2003 - 02:59 pm
I stopped after reading the first 2 this what was suggested??

I am not much of an art expert, either, Lorrie...but sure enjoy learning.

The thumbnail link isn't working for me, I'll try it again later.

April 28, 2003 - 04:49 pm
Nettie, you don't have to stop entirely after each assigned schedule! Read as much or as far as you like; some of our posters have read the whole book. What we are saying is, just don't discuss anything beyond the first two stories in the first week, and then the next two stories in the second week, and so on. We do this so that those who have not read that far are not confused by comments pertaining to things that happen later on in the book. Does this make sense to you?

Before I forget, we are also asking our posters to withold any comments about the Hallmark Presentation of this book until the end of the discussion. This story was presented in February, I believe, under the title "Brush With Fate" and we are trying to avoid the pitfall of getting hung up on a review of the TV play instead of the book. As we draw to a close, however, we will welcome any comments about the similarities between the TV play and the book itself.


April 29, 2003 - 08:32 pm
It's been a while since I have been able to join you. I'm about to graduate from college in two weeks and want to renew our friendships and contribute a few thoughts to this book discussion now that my time will be more open. I have read this book already and loved it. When I saw that you all would be discussing it I picked it up again and began a slower, more thoughtful reading so that I can add something to the discussion when it begins in a couple of days. I haven't been to the author's website yet but I'm looking forward to visiting it. I found the book to be an interesting read with a unique presentation. The format of the stories being told from the present backwards in time added to the mystery of the premise. I was drawn into the lives that were touched by the painting. I know next to nothing about art and even less about Vermeer but can always appreciate a well told story. I'm excited to hear what others think about it and what new insights I can gain from everyone's contributions.

April 29, 2003 - 09:59 pm
Prissy! I like your attitude and the thoughtful way you are going about preparing for this discussion. I can tell right now that you will be a valuable asset to our group. See you Thursday!


April 30, 2003 - 03:21 pm
Dear Readers:

It has been brought to my attention that one of the links above in the heading (the one referring to Vermeer's thumbnail prints) is not working for everyone, and we are attempting to remedy that. Have patience, dear posters, we will fix!


April 30, 2003 - 05:34 pm
The Vermeer thumbnail site works for me. There's one painting in particular missing that has always been my favorite.

April 30, 2003 - 07:07 pm
Finished this great book today and am anxious to listen in on the discussion.

April 30, 2003 - 09:54 pm
Okay, everything should be working now, and we are ready to begin.

I realize it's a few hours early, but I did want to ask one question that is not listed above, concerning the first and second segments:

In "Love Enough" and "A Night Different From All Other Nights" there is a common question that could be asked of both these stories. Can you tell us what that question could be?


May 1, 2003 - 07:12 am

Hope your discussion is a great success.

As Emmabarb pointed out, there is one painting missing from the thumbnails: there are 36 authenticated Vermeers known to exist today and only 35 in the Thumbnails. Vermeer is my favorite Painter and his "Milkmaid" my favorite painting. If I could have only one painting by a master that would be it, although I would ove to have all of the Vermeer's.

Tiger Tom

May 1, 2003 - 07:44 am
Thank you, Tom. Here is another very good link to the "missing" paintings by Vermeer.

The "Missing" Vermeer’s: A Brief Account of Vermeer’s Oeuvre by Jon Boone

We all have our preferences, but I lean towards "Girl Reading a Letter". Beautiful.

Another link to some more extensive thumbnail prints of Vermeer paintings. More thumbnail prints


May 1, 2003 - 09:58 am

Isn't it interesting that the one link says that there are only 34 authenticated Vermeers and yet there are 35 Thumbnails and I have heard that there are 36 Vermeers. I have also heard that Vermeer, like many artists kept a cataloge of all his paintings.

Tiger Tom

May 1, 2003 - 10:54 am
Lorrie, is this a possible question?

In each story, two characters are able to relate their hidden emotions to a work of art. How is this possible?

May 1, 2003 - 11:28 am
I have to think more on the common question that the first two stories may share, Lorrie, but some themes and other questions do occur to me. In the first story, "Love Enough" I see a lot of betrayal.

Cornelius chose Richard, the art teacher as the confidante with whom he wished to share his beloved painting. Yet Richard, our narrator of the story, makes a point several times of indicating that he doesn't consider Cornelius a friend at all. He has little regard for him. Through Richard's eyes we see an obsessed, preoccupied Cornelius with few redeeming or attractive qualities. He has no pity for the central tragedy that motivates Cornelius's life and makes him hide the painting--the discovery that his father was a monster. Richard damns the son right along with the father.

I'm not so sure that I agree with this picture of Cornelius. Anyway, Cornelius certainly made a very faulty judgement about confiding in Richard. The two talked, but they didn't communicate at all. Does Cornelius, the son, really share the sins of his father?

What would have been the proper thing to do with the painting once Cornelius discovered his father had looted it? I really don't know. How could one trace the original owners or their family, probably long dead in a concentration camp? I'd have been mighty sorry to see that painting originally turned over to that first horrendous, murderous looter, the Nazi government.

Also..odd decisions to make here...if I reject the idea of the Nazi government getting the painting, was it then better off in the hands of the art-loving German soldier who unfeelingly started Dutch Jews on their deadly journey to extermination? Was Cornelius right to so despise his father even though he was tender to his son? Such complex characters here, woven so beautifully by our author. So much of the paradox of human nature...

What is the meaning of the title, "Love Enough?" I'm bursting with questions and I need opinions and imput from others.

Gosh, I'm enjoying those miniatures of Vermeer paintings!

It's a joy to examine a painting through the eyes of Susan Vreeland. Her descriptions of the Vermeer(?) are so achingly beautiful.


Edit: Just saw your question, Hats. That's a good area for me to think about. Thanks.

May 1, 2003 - 12:06 pm
Hi Harriet, your answer gave me a lot to think about too. In the first and second story, I became totally involved with Cornelius and Hannah. Their lifestyle glued me to my chair. Both of these characters live a life of loneliness. No one thoroughly understands Cornelius because he has chose to lead a "secret" life in order to cover the tracks of his father's prior sins. He lives a life of invisibility.

While Hannah lives a lonely life because her family does not seem to realize the turmoil that is going on around them. Her family seems sequestered in their home without realizing that people are being taken away and dying for no reason. They totally misjudge Hannah. They think she is lazy and careless and lacking feelings. Really, Hannah is totally in tune to the fact that her world, their world, is falling apart.

So, in both stories, I see a portrayal of loneliness.

May 1, 2003 - 12:09 pm
I think Hannah's family knows all too well what is happening around them. I think they are hoping that, if they stay quiet and make themselves sort of invisible, it won't happen to them.

May 1, 2003 - 12:57 pm
Mary, I see what you are saying. However, it does seem, to me, that Hannah is more aware, more in touch with reality. I think her father deeply understands her. I feel deeply sorry for Hannah. Grandma Hilde says, "She has no interests. No friends. Last night I asked what she'd been doing this winter and she said 'nothing.' Does she even think?"

Of course, Hannah thinks. Hannah is thinking and seeing all the time. Her friend, Marie, is taken. Of herself, Hannah thinks, "It wasn't true. She did want things. That is, she wanted to want things, even to love things, as much as Toby loved every living thing. Only she couldn't say what. It was too impossible now. Wanting anything seemed crazy."

Mary, I feel you are right. Hannah's family wanted to keep a low profile for all of the right reasons. I also think that they did not realize the intelligence of Hannah. She was very, very observant.

Perhaps, Hannah had a chance to see the changes that were taking place because she ran the errands and went to school.

May 1, 2003 - 01:08 pm
I think, too, Hats, that the parents are hoping to keep the knowledge from the children - to keep them from being frightened. But, of course, as you noted, Hannah is much too perceptive to be kept ignorant of the situation. Even the younger brother is picking up on the "bad vibes".

May 1, 2003 - 02:19 pm
Love Enough...what is love? who is the judge? how or can we judge?

We have the love of the Art, the loving towards a Child...and is there that kind of love that a Nazi feels?

Brings to mind Bible sacrifices.

May 1, 2003 - 03:36 pm
Oh, this is splendid! People are talking to each other here, rather than at one another!

Hats, I think you've got it----In my estimation the one common emotion shared by characters in both segments is the really deep loneliness felt by first, Cornelius, and then poor misunderstood Hannah.

MaryZ has a great understanding of the family significance in the second segment, and Harriet is apparently well-engrossed with the character of Cornelius, as was I. At least you are seeing beyond just a cardboard cutout of these vivid characters.

Another question: Do you ever wonder how it is possible for an evil man like Cornelius' father to have such a love of art?

Nettie: I like your comparison with Biblical sacrifices.

I may be alone here, but I can't feel the same repugnance about Cornelius as I do his fathter. In a way, he seems to be suffering his own self-imposed prison, and at least he has a sense of shame about his paternal roots.



May 1, 2003 - 03:43 pm
It seemed to me that Cornelius' father had a certain greed in knowing he had a Vermeer, not sure he felt love. Quite an evil man being able to enjoy the painting so fully when he knew how it was acquired.

May 1, 2003 - 04:09 pm
For the sake of argument and at the risk of being called a Nazi apologist - which I certainly am not - I'd suggest the following.

Just because Cornelius's father was a German soldier, it doesn't mean he was, by definition, a monster. He was a soldier in the service of his country - misguided and insanely led though it was. Surely he was a loving husband and father. And I hate to use the term "he was only following orders", but for some of the underlings, that was surely the case. The soldiers had been ordered to take all art pieces to a central location - the "Department for the Appropriation of Household Effects". He was not the first, nor the last soldier, to keep something for himself. So he kept a painting that caught his eye.

May 1, 2003 - 04:16 pm
Mary Z, have you forgotten what he did to the boy child to get the painting, or am I remembering wrong as I no longer have the book.

May 1, 2003 - 05:41 pm
Annie3, on page 17 of my Penguin edition, Cornelius concedes he was never sure if his father's brutality toward that boy child was actually a fact or "the product of his own swollen imagination."

Cornelius had suffered so much gullt and horror as he ruminated on the role of the Nazi's. Eventually the atrocitities he had read about in war books and seen in documentaries, and his father's wartime actions became merged and entwined? What was really truth and what was imagination? Does Cornelius even know?

Yet he and his father are certainly two separate people. Why is Richard repelled by Cornelius as if HE had been a Nazi?

Such a strange relationship between Cornelius and his father. They share emotional intimacy with the love of the painting, but Cornellius' secretly rejects his father as a man despite the care he gives the dying man.

Oh yes, Hats. I really agree with your analysis of loneliness as a common thread through the two stories. That's a perceptive analysis. Thank you.

Mary, I agree with you that Cornelius's father "was not the first, nor the last soldier, to keep something for himself" like a painting. I think part of the excellence of this book is the contradictory and complex picture it presents of people. It makes me think. Even so, I don't feel like embracing the father as a sympathetic character.


May 1, 2003 - 08:42 pm
Harriet, I didn't feel that the father was a sympathetic character - just that he probably was not a "monster". In a perfect world, he wouldn't have been in the situation where he found himself.

May 1, 2003 - 09:33 pm
Someone else here wondered about the titles of these two stories. "A Night Different From All Other Nights" I can understand, with its reference to Passover, but the meaning of the title "Love Enough" eludes me.

Do any of you have any thouhts on this?

Oh, I do hope Ms. Vreeland can join us again soon. This is something I would like to ask her.


Susan Vreeland
May 1, 2003 - 09:41 pm
Hello from Susan Vreeland Thanks to all of you for entering this dialogue. I find it fascinating to see you work through the issues you've discovered. One comment I must respond to is the opinion that Hannah's family does not realize the turmoil. That's certainly not what I intended to portray. Sol, the father, was involved in the benefit art auction to raise money for Jewish refugees to The Netherlands. He was in the inner circle at the Rotterdam Cafe where the Dutch were inviting German Jews to their homes for seder. These things would suggest he knows what's going on. The mother, Edith, says to Grandmother Hilde (p. 48), "You think I don't worry, every single night, that she doesn't want anything enough? You think I don't know what that means now?" Her concern is that Hannah will be too passive to fight for her own life when the time comes. I think, though, that other readers participating cleared this up. Another question raised is the number of Vermeers being reported differently in different sources. That's because there are some questioned attributions, and some art historians count them and others don't. Two that I recall that are questioned are Girl in the Red Hat and Girl Playing a Flute. So, 35 or 36 is generally given as the number. At any rate, it's a precious few. Susan

kiwi lady
May 2, 2003 - 04:12 am
Hello everyone

Susan I think maybe the others may have meant that Hannah's parents maybe did not realise the extent to which she understood the situation they were all placed in. They never knew how she had lost her best friend and that is terribly traumatic to a child.

I found this story very moving even more so than the first one. The family celebrating Passover with their very simple meal. Hanging on to their traditions as the one security they had in a very uncertain world. This is quite a unique book really. Its like short books within a book if you know what I mean.

The first story - The sad thing about this story is it is about the isolation of a man because of the guilt he has taken on in place of his father. His self imposed isolation is also partly because of the love of this painting that he knew to be ill gotten gains. I did feel some pity for Cornelius but none for his father.

I will have some more comments to make later but these are my first thoughts.


May 2, 2003 - 06:06 am
Carolyn, I felt the same way. I felt very sorry for Cornelius. I had difficulty feeling sympathy for the father. I did not get the impression that Cornelius' father was ordered to take a stand with the Nazis. I came away with the impression that he did it to move up in the ranks or to better his standing in that society.

To me, Cornelius seemed like a sympathetic character simply because he struggled with the sins his father had committed. His career was chosen out of guilt. He was afraid to make friends. It seemed like Cornelius lived in the grey area of life.

Carolyn, in the beginning of your post, you wrote so clearly what I wanted to write. "Hannah's parents maybe did not realize the extent to which she understood the situation they were all placed in. They never knew how she had lost her best friend and that is terribly traumatic to a child."

I think Hannah's loneliness and the feeling of not being understood is what led her to identify with the girl in the painting.

May 2, 2003 - 06:13 am
Lorrie, also expressed my feelings. "...I can't feel the same repugnance about Cornelius as I do his father. In a way, he seems to be suffering his own self-imposed prison, and at least he has a sense of shame about his paternal roots."

May 2, 2003 - 10:33 am
Susan Vreeland, hello ! Did I read in one of your interviews you are also an artist and an art teacher ? Art is (and has been) a huge part of my life ever since I was a able to hold a pencil in my hand. Have you in your research travels visited The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg? This reminds me of a Vermeer click here though I'm sure it's not (I've no idea who the artist was).

May 2, 2003 - 11:32 am
Yes, Emma, that is a lovely painting. We have some people in our building who are from St. Petersburg, and I will ask them if they recognize the painting. Does it seem at all familiar to you, Susan?

In reading about Vermeer, it seems such a pity that there are so few of his paintings that we know about. I read somewhere that he was not always consistent in signing his works of art, is it possible that someone somewhere has some more of his work, in a private collection, perhaps? Unsigned, but recognizable.

I must say, Susan, you show a remarkable knowledge of this particular artist's style. The questions that Cornelius kept putting to Richard (and then answering himself) shows how deeply he had studied the characteristics, down to the placement of milk glasses and ignored mending, which means, of course, that you did a tremendous amount of research. I'm in awe.


kiwi lady
May 2, 2003 - 04:41 pm
Art - To some people art is an investment. To me art has to be a thing of beauty. I am not into ugly paintings no matter what the message. This is why many of the abstract modern paintings don't do anything for me. I have to see a painting which has form and color and it must be something I can relate to. I think I like landscapes and portraits the best. Surprisingly enough I love most of Van Goghs paintings I think because of the way he uses color. I will never forget seeing a Van Gogh exhibition in Auckland when I was only 17. It was truly amazing. I also love most of Monets work. I like folk art too like Grandma Moses because of the detail in the work. We have a NZ artist who does amazing work. I have seen some of his work but cannot recall his name. I am like that I will remember a work but not the artist.


Traude S
May 2, 2003 - 06:04 pm

I am coming late to this discussion; it was for lack of time (the familiar refrain), among other things. The French and English discussions of MADAME BOVARY have just ended, and I am catching my breath, quite literally.

At last I managed to read all the posts here and admire the thoughtful comments all of you have contributed so far. Ms. Vreeland's consent to join us every so often to answer questions on line is most generous indeed and greatly appreciated.

kiwi lady
May 2, 2003 - 07:35 pm
The Vermeer Paintings

What immediately strikes me about these paintings is the detail.They are so sharp they almost look like photographs. They all seem serene no matter what the subject. Does anyone else get this feeling of serenity when they view the paintings. Or maybe thats the wrong word. Is it stoicism?


May 2, 2003 - 08:27 pm
There have been some reports of Vermeer using the camera obsucra while painting.

May 2, 2003 - 09:02 pm
I have the book and have read the very first chapter and know that for me I am going to love Girl in Hyacinth Blue as I do apprieciate a Good painting and the detail expressed in the first chapter is a Work of Art in it's self and done so well.

Monetary gain is of No importance to the true lover of a painting or art of any kind as has been express in the first chapter as a work of art is a personal thing to all true lovers of art of any kind.

I do have a few painting that I apprieciate but the Best work that I Love is a work of art on some dishes that I bought at my neibors garage sale as I had looked over what they had and was about to leave when the wife said have you seen these dishes, I looked and was hooked took a piece of it with her permission and ask her to hold the rest for a short time, which she did and I took the piece into work where there were many dealers who knew about such things but I did not get to to to any as I went to work at 7am and had not talked to the dealers yet but had the one dish on my desk and it kept drawing me so I called on our 9am break and told her I wanted them. Well when I got to talk to those who were experts on such things they had never seen or heard of the piece that was on my desk but because it drew me to love it, the whole set was mine and I love looking at them in my Hutch and still do and they are not for Sale at any Price even a Million dollars so I can relate to the painting on a very personal basis. I did do a search in my spare time out of curiousity and it took a long time to find out about the plates but they were first made in England in 1912 by the J & G Meakin co.of England and then reproduced state side as Indian Prince. To me they are priceless as I so enjoy just looking at them from time to time with much love and enjoyment. Love Enough I understand how Cornelius feels. I do have some pieces of Indian Prince but of course No cups and can Not find them any where and do Not care as I trully loved them from the first day I laid eyes on these dishes I knew that they were to be mine.

Have I told you that I do have English ancestors and that I have a bit of history on the dishes but have miss laid the History as the art on the dishes means more to me just to look and apprieciate.

If any lukers are watching I do have a couple of brothers whose name is Smith and Wesson that do protect me and very good neibors that also do. Truth, Smile, Ginger

Edit: This maybe the longest post that I have Ever posted but my heart is in this book and so far and do understand Cornelis a bit.

May 2, 2003 - 09:05 pm
Carolyn, there was a great deal said, in various reviews of Vermeer paintings, about the "quiet" feeling that so many people felt while viewing some of the paintings. I do believe that is the word. All of the subjects seem to be, as you said, so serene.

EmmaBarb, I was so intrigued by that phrase, camera obsucra, that I had to look it up. I found a fascinating site that explains it very well, and yes, it does mention that Vermeer, among others, made use of this too. Thank you for that link.



May 2, 2003 - 09:14 pm
Ginger, you spoke very eloquently about how you felt about your "garage sale dishes" that turned out to be a real value; your affection for them is obvious. I do believe your two brothers, Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson, should be shown a great deal of respect. LOL


kiwi lady
May 2, 2003 - 09:25 pm
The Dutch are stoics. Has Vermeer painted this attitude into the paintings. Isn't it amazing so many people get the same feeling I got from viewing the thumbnails? I have never read any reviews about Vermeers work. It proves you don't have to be an art critic for a painting to speak to you. I have never really taken an interest in Vermeer before except through my daughter when she did Art History many years ago for University Entrance Examinations.


Susan Vreeland
May 2, 2003 - 09:27 pm
I'll try to give quick answers to the questions so far. The title of the first story is elusive to me too. Did Cornelius love enough to do certain actions--that was my thread of thought. Did he love his father enough through his life to keep the painting a secret? Did he love the painting enough to value it regardless of his father's love for it? Did he love people enough to give the painting to the world (by taking it to a museum)? Of course if his father was still alive this might sacrifice his father to a war crimes tribunal. Did he love the artist enough to bring his painting back into the world for others to enjoy?

The painting of the woman by the leaded glass window is not a Vermeer, but it's a lovely painting. I don't believe there are any Vermeers in the Hermitage.

No, I'm not an artist, though I taught ceramics for eight years as an afternoon relief from teaching English literature in the mornings. Nor am I an art historian. There was a compliment about my research. Thank you. I consulted 80 books in the writing of this one. Besides Vermeer and Dutch art, they had to do with Dutch history and culture....Oh, I was about to name other topics, but that might spoil later stories for some of you. Well, you'll see what I had to research. I enjoyed all that library time,by the way.

That's it for tonight. You're doing great.


May 2, 2003 - 09:33 pm
I have two observations: I felt that Cornelius was a man living in fear. He was filled with fear that the painting WAS a Vermeer, which would make the horror that his father had perpetrated real to him. But he was also in fear that it WASN'T a true Vermeer, in which case his and his father's whole life would have been spent in worship of an untruth. The guilt was so great that he thought destroying the painting was all that could alleviate the pain. Yet he was unable to destroy it alone. In the second story, I understood Marie, Hannah's friend, to possibly be non-Jewish. Someone said in an earier post that Marie and her family were taken away, but I interpreted the passage about Marie to be a case of Marie no longer associating with Hannah, probably due to the fact that Hannah was Jewish. "Now they were in different schools, and once when she saw Marie on a street outside the River Quarter, Marie pretended she didn't recognize her" (paperback 49).

May 2, 2003 - 09:37 pm
YES MY brothers Mr. Smith and Mr. wesson do very well along with a few others. I do have a permit to carry my brothers with me also but will Not comment on that as it does Not pertain to the book. OK. Smile.

May 2, 2003 - 09:46 pm
My search tells me there is one Vermeer on exhibit at the Hermitage Museum ... Woman in Blue Reading a Letter. (not a very good print of it)

kiwi lady
May 2, 2003 - 09:55 pm
Thank you Susan for coming in so often! I really did not expect it!

Prissy- the thoughts about Cornelius are very perceptive in your post. I would agree with them. You are right Marie would have been a gentile - many close friendships ended with the rise of the Nazi regime- between Jews and Non Jews in Germany. The non Jews would simply have been too terrified to associate with their friends and parents would have been fearful for their children so broke up friendships.

We do learn a lot in these discussions- now we are learning a lot about Dutch Painters! Its so interesting!


May 2, 2003 - 10:02 pm
On the other side of my fathers family are German, Dutch so that does perk my intest aso.

May 2, 2003 - 10:40 pm
While checking back to see if I had a correct email address, out of curiosity I clicked on EmmaBarb's name and was brought to her website, and believe me, Readers, that is a place not to miss! What this lady has done with computer-generated art and simple pen and ink drawings is fabulous! You really all should take a look! Just click on EmmaBarb's name in one of these posts and it will take you there.

Emma, I couldn't quite make out the title of that very first artwork. It's right above the first pen and ink drawing. Those are beautiful pictures, hurrah for you!


Prissy, yes you seem to have grasped the essence of the Cornelius character perfectly. Good post.

May 2, 2003 - 10:46 pm
Susan, I am interested in the very original way you presented these stories. This reverse chronology is very unique, what an original way of presenting eight different tales with a common theme!


May 3, 2003 - 12:45 am
I have watched EmmaBarb and her works for some time now and Agree she does Fine work.

May 3, 2003 - 01:51 am
Carolyn and Lorrie, I do not know about art either. Susan, I certainly appreciate all of your in depth research for this book. Your research helps me to really appreciate the beauty of Vermeer's art. I see the quietness and serenity that Carolyn and Lorrie wrote about in their posts. I also see the beginning of a story being told. Vermeer seems to allow you to take the story as far as you want. His paintings, I think, allow for my imagination to be used. I also see an appreciation for meditation. In some of the paintings, I see the beauty of a woman's work or just the grace of a woman.

Ginger, thank you for describing your beautiful dishes.

EmmaBarb, your art is beautiful.

May 3, 2003 - 11:47 am
Hi everyone, This is the first time I've been a part of a book discussion online. I just got the book from the library and read the first two chapters. I've read all the comments and have two of my own, if I may.

Did the pigeons have a special significance in the second story, or were they another hint of the oncoming holocaust? Also, it surprised me that Hannah killed the family's pigeons. I thought her father was going to do it. Does anyone else feel the same way?


kiwi lady
May 3, 2003 - 12:23 pm
I believe Hannah killed the pigeons for two reasons.

One to spare her father and her brother the pain. They absolutely adored the pigeons. Secondly the pigeons had to go because it was forbidden to have them. The family would have drawn attention to themselves if they had been discovered and would have been severely punished by the Germans probably sent to the camps.

You note that after this Hannahs Mother said she was giving her a special set of candlesticks. This signified that Hannah was now regarded as an adult in her mothers eyes. (I think!)


May 3, 2003 - 02:14 pm
Last night I read "Morningshine" and so far this is my very favorite chapter. Susan Vreeland, this story really touched me and I only wish she could have managed otherwise (saying this not to give anything away). Was wondering if you now have the painting done for the movie or the book?

Lorrie, my goodness (I'm blushing but with a big smile on my face).
Thanks so much to all who commented about my computer art.

Jan Vermeer, dead at the age of 43, has been called the "Sphinx of Delft" (I have to do a search of that to see if there is anything more). It was 200 years before his art was recognized with fewer than 40 works known and no one knows how many paintings, if any, he sold during his lifetime. Almost all of Vermeer's paintings show the same rooms in his house, same furniture and decorations in various arrangements and often portrayed the same people, mostly women. He seemed to paint for himself only, not for the market place - in fact it's said he shunned it. I read where the painting "The Concert" (still missing) is valued at around 200 - 300 million dollars.

May 3, 2003 - 10:50 pm
Hi, Aberlaine: (Nancy?)

I'm glad you mentioned something about the pigeons in the second segment. I have always felt there was something particularly significant about those birds, and you seem to have grasped it.

Welcome to our group! We are always so glad to see new names!


May 3, 2003 - 11:16 pm
Susan, in THE COPPERFIELD REVIEW, there was an article published of an interview with you done by Meredith Allard. I was mesmerized by your answer to the question of what actually inspired you to write this book.
In part you say, "Wanting to fill my eyes and thoughts with beauty as I began chemotherapy, I pored over art books and absorbed the placidness of Monet's garden, the sparkling color of the Impressionists, the strength and solidity of Michelangelo's figures showing the titanic power of humans at one with God, and the serene Dutch women in Johannes Vermeer's interiors. These women took on added significance because I had a Dutch name. It was comforting, in case I had to leave this world, to find, through them, my heritage and place of origin, and perhaps something of the strength of Dutch character. I began to recognize that art can emerge from extremity. In my case, long, uninterrupted days free from teaching high school became a gift which resulted in Girl in Hyacinth Blue"

I found your answer to be particlarly poignant, and really somewhat revealing, of you as a person, not just a writer. I know you have done dozens of these interviews, are there any others that you particularly liked or disliked, the way they quoted your words?


May 4, 2003 - 09:33 am
Carolyn, I very much agree with that perceptive opinion you expressed about why Hannah destroyed the pigeons. I had also totally missed the meaning of the gift of candlesticks that Hannah received. Thanks for the clarification.

Hannah identified with the girl in the painting. She believed that girl yearned for unspoken things, as she did, and was capable of "doing some great, wild loving thing."

Hannah fulfilled a great loving act herself when she took on the painful, necessary job of killing the pigeons. The young girl that some in her own family felt to be unequipped for reality was actually a very strong person.


kiwi lady
May 4, 2003 - 01:49 pm
Actually Harriet - Mad animal lover that I am - it really broke me up when that young girl had to kill the pigeons to protect the family. I really felt for the character!


Susan Vreeland
May 4, 2003 - 05:44 pm
Oh, you're all doing so well in your discovery of subtleties in the book. Here again are brief answers and remarks.

Prissy--You're right in understanding that Marie was not Jewish. They were separated when Jews weren't allowed in the same schools as gentiles. I tried to suggest a Catholic in the choice of her name, though Protestants far outnumbered Catholics in The Netherlands.

Emma--Thanks for doing the research to find that Woman in Blue Reading a Letter (one of my favorites, and the one that suggested to me a hyacinth blue smock) is at the Hermitage.

Lorrie--The reverse chronology came to mind because I wanted to preserve the mystery of whether or not this was a Vermeer. If I had the stories in the correct chronology, that wouldn't be a mystery. Also, I had in mind that readers might consider which characters felt it being a Vermeer was important and which didn't have this concern. Furthermore, what does this show about their values. Just something for you to chew on as you read further.

Hats--I liked your comment about the grace and beauty of women's work. This will come up again in a later story.

Lorrie--I've done so many interviews I can't keep them straight in my mind, nor have I a purpose to, so your question is unanswerable. As for the experience of writing Girl while in a serious, life threatening situation, that is recorded in two sections of my bio on the website.

Harriet--Your comments about Hannah and the pigeons were very perceptive.


May 4, 2003 - 09:38 pm
Thank you, Susan. It is such a pleasure to hear from you!

It's inevitable that comparisons will be made between the second story and "the Diary of Ann Frank," particularly when each has a very young girl as the central character.

In what way are Hannah and Anne Frank similar? Can you distinguish their differences?


kiwi lady
May 5, 2003 - 12:04 pm
Crikey Lorrie - its an awful long time since I read Anne Franks diary!


May 5, 2003 - 12:07 pm
I sincerely loved this book by Susan Vreeland. The painting played an important role in each of the lives of the people who came into contact with it, and I felt the women loved it more for it's beauty and the men more of an object of worth. I loved the way the story traveled back in time. I'd forgotten where the pigment ultramarine came from. I've collected several pieces of jewelry with Lapis that I enjoy wearing. I wonder how many artists, if any, still grind their own pigments for their paintings ? I know I would loose interest in the painting if I had to do that. As you know, it's also dangerous because those lead pigments such as lead white and lead-tin yellow are poisonous if inhaled as a dust or ingested. Lead white is still available today but you really have to be careful not to get it in your mouth (I have a bad habit of putting the tip of the brush in my mouth and sometimes use my fingers for blending). Color Reference Library ...if anyone is interested.
Now I want to read "The Passion of Artemisia" and hope it's available at my local book store.

kiwi lady
May 5, 2003 - 01:01 pm
My daughter who was visiting yesterday picked up this book which I have by the computer and vowed she will read it. She is an art lover and said she knows she will really enjoy the book. She belongs to a book club too, they are meeting tonight at her house and she is going to tell the members about it.


kiwi lady
May 5, 2003 - 06:17 pm

Where is everyone? You must have more to say! I am at a loss what to say next!


May 5, 2003 - 06:41 pm
Several of the people I work with have read this book and we discuss it together over lunch. I have some problems with extreme sadness with the first two chapters so was waiting until we move on. My preference would be to discuss this book as a whole instead of chapter by chapter. Was it really burned at the beginning. I don't agree with that response to life's situations. Not unlike a pet owner having their pets euthanized at the owners death. So selfish.

May 5, 2003 - 07:24 pm
I am reading Girl in Hyacinth Blue by chapter's in stead of reading the whole book and then Not knowing where we are in the discussions so I can post on the chapters where we are, a first for me but I think it will work. I think the next chapters start on May 7th, am I correct?

I did not like the killing of the pigeons but understood the pigeons would be traced to them and the family would die so I do think that the killing of the pigeons was a courages and kindly thing for Hanna to do loving her family. I also think she could relate to the girl in Hyacinth Blue being much like herself and her father buying it for her. I am enjoying this book.

May 5, 2003 - 08:09 pm
The giving of the heirloom candlesticks was Very emotional for me as the candlesticks are so special and the lighting of the candles is Very special at the Seder supper.

kiwi lady
May 5, 2003 - 08:31 pm
Ginger- it was a significant thing showing Hannahs mothers respect for Hannah and her acknowledgement that Hannah was a young woman and not just a girl. Perhaps Hannahs mother also thought that Hannah was so strong that she might be the only one to survive the woes to come?


May 5, 2003 - 08:53 pm
I agree that Hannahs mother was showing she had learned to respect Hannah for her strength that she showed protecting the family and Vermeers painting of the Girl in Hyacinth Blue, We must not forget how much she loved the painting also.

May 5, 2003 - 09:00 pm
Annie3: We have tried various ways of having these discussions, sometimes we even do the complete book, whichever works best. But we have found that if we discuss a book in total for a discussion that is scheduled for a month, then a few people who have read the book come in and say how much they liked it, blah blah blah, and then go away, whereas if we talk about it chapter by chapter, then we all seem to absorb so much more from each segment. Most of us have read the book, but choose not to give away anything for the benefit of the readers who are reading it as we go along. I am always very impressed with the courteous way our posters refrain from jumping ahead.

And yes, Ginger, we will be talking about "Adagia" and "Hyacinth Blue" on May 7 for the following week.


May 5, 2003 - 09:03 pm
Lorrie, I understand. In this book each chapter has its own story. It is a very interesting book. I enjoyed reading it. I also enjoy others ideas and comments.

May 5, 2003 - 09:27 pm
Carolyn, do you feel that part of the fun of reading this novel is deciding whether the painting in the story is an actual Vermeer, a forgery, or perhaps simply a work by an unknown other artist of Vermeer's time? It's almost like having an artistic mystery, with a Dutch background, isn't it?


May 5, 2003 - 09:57 pm
Yes Ms. Vreeland has done a Great job on the book Girl In Hyacinth Blue and I am enjoying each chapter being a different owner of the the Vermeers painting and I do believe that it is a true Vermeers painting. The love shown for this piece of art and what the owners are willing to do to protect it is so special like my dishes so I can relate. My dishes are painted the old fashioned way I think so won't eat off them but some have and it shows on some of the dishes but not all. The colors are so diffent and special to me. Think I will check on my paintings and see how far the artist has progressed as they were bought some time ago. OH I am learning so much by reading this book.

OK Allie, Allie in Free to All observers.


May 5, 2003 - 10:29 pm
Ginger, I looked up your dishes on the Internet because I was so curious. I can understand why you fell in love with them, they are so beautiful.

May 5, 2003 - 10:44 pm
I didn't like having the pigeons killed but understood why they had to be.

I do believe the painting in the book is as real as any Vermeer could be......I know I will always be looking for it. Wouldn't you just love to go to a museum one day and see it hanging on the wall.

I have one hand-painted dish (of roses) that was my great-grandmother' is so beautiful it takes my breath away. Not having any daughters or granddaughters in my family I don't know what will happen to it when I'm gone. Maybe I'll live long enough to have a great-granddaughter

May 6, 2003 - 05:24 am
I too hated to see the pigeons die. I definitely understood why Hannah had to kill them. I fell in love with Hannah as a character. I find it very interesting and exciting to see how each character relates to the painting. In each chapter, the character totally relates to something new and different in the painting. Then, they make the painting a part of their lives.

In some way, the painting brings them comfort. I am almost tempted to say it does not matter whether the painting is a Vermeer. I think it matters more that a person can become almost at one with a work of art. To me, it proves that a work of art is like a "living" creation. a painting can speak to us and help us handle life during a crisis or during some other unexpectant event in our lives.

Like EmmaBarb, I really want to read The Passion of Artemesia. I think Susan Vreeland is a wonderful writer.

May 6, 2003 - 07:41 am
Please tell me the url for my dishes as I could not find it.I hope to find the history on them for some reason, don't know why.

EmmaBarb, The Rose is my favorite flower I sure would like to see your dish.

Hats, I agree it does not matter if it is a Vermeers as it is what the Painting means to the owner. I could not find the artist that did my paintings yet. One is signed by Antonio the other is signed by Claude Terray.They are pictures of shores.

I will read the next chapter today as tommorw is the 7th so we can didcussion them then. I am looking forward to it.


May 6, 2003 - 07:52 am
Hi Ginger, my favorite flower is a rose too.

May 6, 2003 - 07:57 am
For me, the most powerful message of the first few chapters dealt with the looting by the Nazis of the Jews' property, including their fine art. This was a travesty, and there are indeed ways of tracing ownership so that works may be returned to their rightful owners. Indeed, there have been several high profile lawsuits against museums by Jews descended from Holocaust victims. The story of museums' and auction houses' acquistion of works with questionable provenance - and clearly, with any investigation, products of Nazi looting - is a scandal that continues to this day. I wanted to read more about this in the book.

I did understand why Cornelius would be fearful of exposing his father, but did not understand why he felt guilty for his father's terrible sins.

As for excusing the father, this is simply impossible in my view.

May 6, 2003 - 08:04 am
Sorry, this is off topic but didn't know where else to post it, it's a URL for Ginger

May 6, 2003 - 08:08 am
I can understand why Cornelius would feel guilty for his father's sins. His father's dastardly act was before him everyday. This painting was a representation of the evil his father had committed. For me,the fact that Cornelius was haunted everyday by his father's actions made him more humane. If he could just shrug off "his father's sins," he would have been as evil as his father.

I think this is why it is important to live with character for our children's sakes. Whether our deeds are good or bad, our acts follow them and become a part of their history.

Like you Sarah, I think it is terrible that these art treasures were stolen by the Nazis.

May 6, 2003 - 08:13 am
When I was a young child we had a neighbor that had passenger pigeons. The pigeons lived in a special room on the roof of their house. They each had names, and special things about each one that the owner knew. My sorrow at the death of the pigeons wasn't so much the deaths themselves but that the family had to live in such a world where they had to kill them to stay alive themselves. Because of the excellence in the description, I could feel the sorrow and the fear. The passenger pigeons are all gone now, there were so many of them.

May 6, 2003 - 08:13 am
What a lovely definition of art, Hats.

"To me, it proves that a work of art is like a "living" creation. a painting can speak to us and help us handle life during a crisis or during some other unexpected event in our lives."

I've also felt that art speaks for those aspects of beauty that seem too profound to be expressed in words. If it produces emotions, personal memories, yearnings within us, then art certainly justifies its existence. Writing can also evoke those emotions and is definitely a form of art as well.

As I read GIRL IN HYACINTH BLUE, I often feel a burst of emotion...a recognition and identification at a situation or a character. Thanks, Annie3 for your memories evoked by the emotions in this book. That's pretty neat...we're all reading a book about art that IS a work of art in itself.

Hannah and Cornelius loved the painting for different reasons. Cornelius was entranced by the technical beauty of the painting and excited by the idea of owning a Vermeer, but his love was mixed with anxiety and agitation.

Hannah loved the peace and introspection of the painting and felt inspired toward love of others when she looked at it. I wonder, is one form of artistic appreciation more intrinsically valuable than another?


kiwi lady
May 6, 2003 - 09:38 am
I have been thinking about the painting as being a Vermeer. I think all forms of art are intrinsically valuable. I look at writing as an art form too. Each person finds something different in the same work. Two people can look at a painting and have different feelings about it- the same with a sculpture. I think art appreciation is very personal in a way.

Cornelius and his feelings of guilt- Many children have carried guilt from their parents actions. It is a natural part of being human. I have met Germans and Japanese who have felt real guilt about the second world war and atrocities which occurred. I feel guilt that my ancestors treated our indigenous people so disgracefully when they colonised this country.


May 6, 2003 - 09:59 am
I agree with you, Carolyn. The way a person appreciates art is as personal and individual as the means by which a painter or writer expresses the creative urge.

I also feel guilt for the general ills of the society I'm a part of. I do believe it's harder to bear a specific guilt in one's personal life. Cornelius's guilt is not generalized. He specifically fears bringing military tribunals down upon his father during the former Nazi's lifetime, and he fears having the painting confiscated if he has it evaluated after the old man dies.

The characters in this book are fascinating for the different ways in which the Vermeer(?) painting impacts them. I'm using my will-power not to finish the book...I do love it. It's hard not to read ahead to find out all about the painting.


May 6, 2003 - 10:21 am
I cannot Thank you enough for the url. If we ever meet Dinner will be on me The phone no. of the replacement center is the same one I called in 1985 and they had none of my dishes. I shall get some cups and saucers, Oh how I love S/N and all the posters.

Hats, I have noticed that We have so much in comman.


May 6, 2003 - 11:05 am
I had to finish reading the book....once started I couldn't put it down....sorry about that

It does matter that the painting was a Vermeer -- it made me go back and take another look at his lovely works of art and appreciate them all over again.
Now I have to say the last two chapters were my favorite.

May 6, 2003 - 05:31 pm
My, what a wonderful wealth of comments on these first two stories in this book!

Sarah, like you I have always been appalled at the lack of ethics shown about the disposal of those wonderful paintings that were seized by the Nazis, and yet still fought over even after the War. The art galleries and auction houses were like carrion scavengers in some respects, picking over the remains of some of these priceless works of art.

Ginger, we are all so happy that you have found a site relating to your beloved dishes, aren't we? Is there any possible way you could show us a picture of your favorite, by any chance?

Annie3: When you wrote: "My sorrow at the death of the pigeons wasn't so much the deaths themselves but that the family had to live in such a world where they had to kill them to stay alive themselves."
How perceptive of you!


EmmaBarb, and Harriet:

It is perfectly all right to have read the book in full. You are being very good about not giving away anything, Emma, and we appreciate that.

May 6, 2003 - 06:22 pm
I've been reading everyone's posts and have been so impressed by the comments on this truly emotionally packed book. Ms Vreeland, you are to be complimented on your insight to the various characters. OK - now here goes with my very first comment on how I understood - Cornelius - loved his father - feared his father - however he also feared for his father. The painting was the symbol of shared love. But the painting was also the one thing that could prove/disprove his father's actions during WWll and therefore the reason to keep it a secret. His need to truly understand his father drove him to sharing the secret and the eventual finding of the truth.

May 6, 2003 - 06:46 pm
It is so good to see you posting in the Start of the discussion of Girl in Hyacinth Blue as I feel that you can add so much here, Thanks for comming back and checking us out. Will be watching for your posts.

May 6, 2003 - 07:21 pm
I Have a whole lot of these dishes, some from England and some from the state side. This is my favorite:

have six of these in the top half of my hutch.

I do not want to take away from the Beautifull Vermeers works as I am just stating that Beauty is in the heart of the beholder and what we will do to protect them. My dishes are painted as I can tell by those that have lost there shine so to speak and feel the paint from England from 1912 which is a thrill for me.

We have came to the discussion of "Girl in Hyacinth Blue" Book to discus this particular work of Art and I shall do so and hope all others will also. I was just so excited to find the cups and saucers I could Not help myself, Please forgive me All of you.

Your S/N Extended family member, Ginger

May 6, 2003 - 08:25 pm
Is this book about the painting and about art, or about the people whom it touched? I was reminded in reading this book of Annie Proulx's book Accordian Crimes, which traced the life of an accordian but really was a way of learning about the lives of the people who owned it.

Ms. Vreeland?

May 6, 2003 - 09:44 pm
For me the book Girl in Hyacinth Blue is the History of The Girl in Hyacinth blue Painting from the ending to the begining. It is the story pertainng to the Painting and Well done is my opion, How Ever a work of Art is a Work of Art and I will Never Regret my posting of my dishes as I am over Joyed to learn that I can get the cups and sacsers

May 6, 2003 - 09:54 pm
I like your question, Sarah, and will wait to see what our author has to say in that respect.

Speaking of dishes, I noticed that (without giving anything away) there is often a mention of the Delftware that was such a money-maker in Vermeer's time, and in his place. I have always had an admiration for this pottery, but never realized how big an industry that was, and in the place where Vermeer lived and painted, also. An industry that is still big, I believe.


May 6, 2003 - 10:16 pm
I had Delftware that was my fathers and sold them for $15.00 to what I thought was a friend, not so as they were a set for flour, Sugar etc. containers. OH well we learn as we age. So be it as we learn from our mistakes.

I cannot wait for the Next two chapter to talk about them but I will while chomping at the bit. Smile.

May 6, 2003 - 10:56 pm
The more I read of these stories, the more I can admire the dexterity with which Susan Vreeland moves in and out of these scenes, and it makes me think that she is a painter, also. She paints a vivid picture each time, using words instead of brushes.

In the third segment, “Adagio”, there are all kinds of interesting references. In one, while on their quayside walk with their daughter and her fiancee, Laurens teases his wife Digna about her fascination with embroidering various samplers with adages by Erasmus. This intrigued me and when I researched some of this, in this link below about Erasmus, there are two coincidences:

1. In the keeping of the art focus there is a picture of an engraving by Durer of “Erasmus of Rotterdam”, and

2. Erasmus’ epochal translation of the passage about the two sisters, Martha and Mary is vividly depicted, if you scroll down to the bottom, in a painting by Vandemeer.



May 7, 2003 - 05:06 am
Thank you for the clickable, Lorrie. Ginger, I am glad you showed a picture of your dishes. It is a beautiful pattern.

May 7, 2003 - 07:43 am
On one of her samplers, Digna embroiders the words, "Remember no Wrongs." The quotation belongs to Erasmus. If we lived by this saying, lived by forgiveness, our lives would be simpler. Grudges can only complicate our lives.

This quotations makes me think of Vermeer's paintings. His paintings seem to steer us toward simpler lives. Do the thoughts of Erasmus and the paintings of Vermeer complement one another?

Ms. Susan Vreeland, I am wondering when you added the thoughts of Erasmus to one of your stories, were you also thinking of Vermeer's painting? Although both men used a different medium, are there any similarities in their ideas or philosophies towards life?

May 7, 2003 - 01:41 pm
I saw the story ADAGIA as a portrayal of different stages of love in a relationship. The young engaged couple, Johanna and Fritz, were in the first stages of romantic love.

The parents, Digna and Laurens, are a loving marital couple with many years of successful marriage to their credit. Susan Vreeland draws such a charming picture of the contradictory and complex personality of the husband, Laurens. The painting of the girl in hyacinth blue reminds him of the first love of his very young manhood. Yet Laurens, a contented man, doesn't seem to be consciously aware of how much he truly loves his own wife. He lives a happy current marriage at the same time that he idealizes a long-ago girl.

What does "adagia" mean? I think it might be a musical term? Anyway the story makes me think of a psychological dance of love as Laurens tries to figure out his relationship with his own wife and the past.

The wife, Digna, just might be a candidate for marital sainthood?


May 7, 2003 - 02:17 pm
Hats, I do believe the adages and the painting do complement each other. For some reason, the stillness of the subjects in Vermeer's studies seem to me to be indicating a listening pose, perhaps to someone unseen who is quoting Erasmus.

Harriet, I like the various stages of romantic love depicted in this story, don't you? There is something rather bittersweet about the way Laurens thinks of his first love, but I must say that Digna is much more likeable than her husband, in my estimation.

There is a lot of "stuff" about Erasmus. Interesting.

"Erasmus' Adagia has been called 'one of the world's biggest bedside books,' and certainly the more than 4000 proverbs and maxims gathered and commented on by Erasmus, sometimes in a few lines and sometimes in full-scale essays, have great appeal for both scholar and educated layman. The aim of the Adages was to recapture, in this handy portmanteau form, the outlook and way of life of the classical world through its customs, legends, and social institutions, and to put within reach of a modern public the accumulated wisdom of the past. Each adage is traced in the works of as many authors as Erasmus had to hand; always an authority is given (usually several) and often a close reference providing chapter and verse."...............University of Toronto Press

Erasmus' Adagia


May 7, 2003 - 03:32 pm
I've just finished the third chapter. First, I found it interesting that Susan placed the story of the van Luykens in a town called "Vreeland", the same as Susan's last name. Coincidence, Susan? Second, I was afraid that Digna would not forgive Laurens for giving her a painting that reminded him of another woman. What a tragedy that such a beautiful painting could come between them. You can tell that they really love each other: the kind of love that grows with time. And to find the answer to this impasse in the painting (which started the problem in the first place) and in the adage that Johanna just happened to be sewing at the time was perfect.

I loved this story. It was filled with such gentle lessons. Take time. Forgive. Respect.

Also, I found it interesting that the owners of the painting in the second and third chapters were Hannah and Johanna. Hannah means gracious while Johanna, a form of Joan, means God is gracious.


May 7, 2003 - 05:02 pm
The painting reminded Laurens of an earlier love. Looking at the girl in the painting reminded him of Tanneke. This earlier love for Tanneke did not make him love Digna less. It is interesting how Susan Vreeland describes two types of love in one story. Neither love contaminates the other love. Digna and Laurens love remains strong under the pressure of a memory.

I like it when Laurens looks at his daughter and her soon to be husband. He thinks.

"To them, life seemed exquisitely simple, clear as polished crystal. Oh, for them to know. Some day they'd know. It's only after years that one even notices the excruciating complexities."

I think the painting reminds Laurens of love's simplicity, but it also reminds him of a relationship's complexity. With Tanneke, he made a wrong decision. I think he wanted to proved his manhood. In the process, Tanneke was hurt, and he lost her.

May 7, 2003 - 09:02 pm
I probably shouldn't be answerng for Susan, but we have been email friends for several years; and we share a commonality, we are both Vreelands. Actually, the village Vreeland (province Utrecht, 30 minutes SW of Amsterdam) is a beautiful place. "A doll's village". The village is bisected by the river Vecht; the west/original side was settled in 1253 and the east side several hundred years later. Susan and I have both been to the village (although not at the same time). The filming of the movie was done in the house next to my penfriend's son. I have written a book (65 pages) about the village (for English-speaking tourists). An interesting note: the last Vreeland lived in the village in the 17th century, so when I was there it was MY town.


Susan Vreeland
May 7, 2003 - 10:01 pm
Harriet, I'm glad you saw that what Cornelius and Hannah saw in the painting, their reasons for valuing it, were entirely different. Yes, it does lead us to question which is the more valuable form of art appreciation. On the one hand is the academic approach, and on the other is the emotional and personal approach. I don't want to say which is most valuable, though.

Sara T, Does the book have to be about one or the other--the painting or the people? I loved intertwining them. I have not read Accordian Crimes though other readers have mentioned a similar motif of tracing an object.

Hats, Erasmus was the major leader in a late Renaissance movement called Humanism which valued this life over the afterlife (an oversimplification) which was entirely different from the Middle Ages which valued the afterlife over this life. The Humanists, therefore, sought to understand this world on a scientific level and not just a theological one. Part of the Renaissance thought was to go back to the Greeks and Romans to learn what values they had. Only when Christianity was secure could there be this interest in pre-Christian times. Erasmus was a scholar in Greek and Latin, and his Adagia (Adages) were a translation so that they could be accessible in other languages. As for Vermeer, nothing remains of what he might have written so it's impossible to determine his "philosophy of life" as you put it. Certainly though, he is picturing people who are enjoying this life (playing music, drinking wine, admiring a string of pearls--look at his paintings) rather than focusing on the afterlife at the expense of the joys of this plane of existence.

And finally, for tonight, the village of Vreeland is absolutely the most beautiful Dutch village I've ever seen. I had been there about 25 years ago and then not again until the movie was filmed there. Each time was for only an hour, but my reaction to it remains very vivid. Gayle Vreeland has given you a much more accurate picture of it than I could. I wish she would share a bit more if it with you.

That's it for tonight. Susan

May 8, 2003 - 08:32 am
Hi, Gayle! Welcome to our group! This is my second message to you and Susan, for some reason I seem to keep losing my posts.

Anyway, I wanted to thank you for the very vivid description of the village Vreeland, which both you and Susan visited. Why do they call it a doll's village, by the way?

Did you both find the Dutch people proud of their village's famous painter? How far exactly is Vreeland from Delft, which Vermeer painted in such wonderful colors?


May 8, 2003 - 01:00 pm
Sorry if I confused you. I call it a "doll's village"; everything (on the west side) is so compact, you can walk from one end of town to the other in -10 minutes. The main street is 2 blocks long; one for commercial and one for residential. The Dutch Reform Church is in the northern half of the village and its spire can be seen for miles, especially if you are on the river. The streets are all paved in brick and are about 1-1/2 car width's wide. (You almost have to be a stunt driver, I have seen tandem semis on these streets.)

The east side (newer) is basically all residential, except for the cemetary and the grain mill, De Ruiter.

In miles Delft is not too far away, but w/the traffic a.s.o., it would probably take several hours to get there. There is no longer any public transportation to or from Vreeland.

Vermeer is not from Vreeland; Susan set a chapter there because of our name. Just as Vermeer is not from any of the other towns where the people lived who owned this painting. Hope this explains things.


May 8, 2003 - 06:22 pm
In past discussions i have seen mentioned the book "Girl With a Pearl Earring" by Tracy Chevalier, and some readers even suggested reading these two novels back to back. I know that Chevalier's novel was also about Vermeer, but for those of you who have read it, how is the story different?

One thing I have noticed so far---Susan's depicts the give and take of family relationships with affection and understanding. The feeling between Laurens and his wife are calm and serene, yet deeply affectionate. We can't help but feel that as we read along.


May 8, 2003 - 09:50 pm
I purchased the "Passion of Artemisia" and hope to start reading it soon. Am wondering if anyone is interested in a discussion following this one ?

May 9, 2003 - 06:36 am
As soon as Laurens senses his wife's hurt and emotional retreat, he begins to remember tender past moments that he had with her...reminiscing in his imagination much as he did with his lost first love.Only now there are so very many more sweet moments to think back on with his wife.

I like Laurens, but he is definitely something of a clod. He loves his wife, he loves his daughter, he loves his life with them. He had always taken the loving pattern of his marriage for granted ,,,yet he never questioned the sanctity of his memories of the long lost Tanneke.

He's not a malevolent man, but Laurens doesn't think much before he talks. After all, he's always been accustomed to the loving acceptance of his wife.

I thought the most hurtful thing Lauren said to his wife, Digna, was that he had felt aboout the lost Tanneke as the newly betrothed Fritz feels about their daughter Johanna. Surely any wife who watched the infatuation between her daughter and her betrothed would be struck to the heart hearing her husband describe how he once had similar feelings for another woman in the past.

Here's another medal of clodhood for the slow thinking Laurens. He has admitted that the painting was NOT solely a gift to his wife, but a gift of memory for himself because the girl in the painting extends her delicate hand in a manner "that invites a kiss on the palm." This is one of Laurens cherished memories of the lost Tanneke.

There is a gentle and loving feeling to the whole story despite the pain Laurens gives to his wife. Luckily, Digna understands better than her husband the meaning of the years they have spent together and is finally able to interpret her husband's deep feelings for herself.

We don't learn if the older couple finally gave the painting as a wedding gift to Johanna and Fritz. I'm betting that they do, and Laurens will probably be a willing donor after a little thought. What do you all think?


May 9, 2003 - 09:18 am
Ah, Harriet, a clod, you say! Yes, that part about Laurens telling his wife about wanting to kiss the palm of the girl in the painting was hurtful to Digna, but as you said, fortunately she was able to accept his "clodishness" and remember the truly loving moments they had shared through the years.

It seems almost inevitable that they would give the painting to the newly engaged couple, doesn't it? The whole story seems to keep its continuity with that thought.

I am really beginning to like the way the author depicts the various relationships in these stories. Like this one, there's a thread of quiet devotion running through the man/woman relationships.



That is an interesting suggestion about running a discussion behind this one for "Passion for Artemisia" and I will put it to the powers that be here, but we do have a fairly rigid schedule and I can't guarantee anything. Will try, though.

May 9, 2003 - 12:27 pm
Lorrie and Harriet, Laurens feelings about the painting made me feel upset too. At times, he remembered such personal moments between he and Tanneke.

"Like so many times at the pumping house, and much later when he looked at the painting, he indulged in imagining Tanneke and her braid of honey-colored hair, heavy in his hand when he unbraided it, and his life with her, what it might have been."

I tried to take in what Susan Vreeland said about Erasmus. The fact that their is an appreciation for the life we live now instead of the hereafter. I think this is a case in point.

Laurens reasons for enjoying the painting are wrong. He is thinking of Tanneke and not kind Digna. Yet, the painting reminds him of a tiny moment in time, a man unbraiding a woman's hair. The painting had the power to touch off a small memory or a small moment yet, a sensual one. It is a beautiful act and a beautiful moment that can be appreciated in this life and not in the hereafter. I hope Laurens learned to appreciate these moments with Digna. He does love her.

May 9, 2003 - 01:08 pm
Digna seems wiser than Laurens. At the end, Digna says, "Look long enough," she said softly, "out or in, and you'll be glad you are who you are."

I think Digna hopes the painting will teach Laurens to appreciate his present time in life. I think Lauren's whole problem is that he longs for young love or the past. Digna, wisely, knows Lauren's inner thoughts. She has a way of teaching him gently or "softly."

I see the power of art again. In each story, the painting, almost has the power of speech. It touches each person in a different way.

May 9, 2003 - 01:31 pm
Does this story remind you of anything? Once, in a miraculous tender moment, while still a teen, our class hero and football jock decided to make me his skating partner for one night, and I will never forget the magic of those moonlit nights on the ice-covered lagoon. For years I dreamed of those romantic hours, and I carried this "what-if" wonderment all that time, until we had a Class Reunion where I saw my hero for the first time since graduation.

Need I say more?


Traude S
May 9, 2003 - 04:27 pm
LORRIE, of course I remember such "magical moments", don't we all?

In response to your question in # 168 let me say that I have not yet finished reading our book, "Girl in Hyacinth Blue", but I did read "Girl in a Pearl Earring". Our live afternoon AAUW book group chose it two years ago, and a memorable discussion it was: We reached depths we had not anticipated, even though we should have, what with an artist in our midst who came fully prepared, believe me!

Please let me mention the commonalities first:

Both books enlightened the public in this country about Vermeer, both were based on admirable research. Both are fictional constructions, both were a deserved literary success.

Here is the difference I see, and - mind you - this is just my personal subjective view:

Girl in Hyacinth Blue focuses on one painting which may or may not be a Vermeer and how the lives of successive owners (even in reverse order) were affected.

Are the owners' lives then the ultimate focus ?

Girl in a Pearl Earring (fictionally) reconstructs the artist, the era, the town of Delft, the social and (importantly) the religious developments (Protestants gaining the upper hand over Catholics), and is based on one acknowledged, indeed famous Vermeer painting, which graced the cover of Smithonian Magazine at the time of the Vermeer exhibit in this country, AND it puts forward the audacious assumption of who the model of the girl in the earring might have been.

It is my humble opinion that the two novels complement each other, and I sincerely believe that a follow-up reading of Chevalier's book as a voluntary individual effort would be logical and enriching our present reading experience.

May 9, 2003 - 05:18 pm
Traude, thank you for your very enlightening summary of the difference between these two books. It seems to me that Pearl Earring is more about the artist, and Hyacinth Blue more about the painting itself, as you pointed out. "Girl in the Pearl Earring" seems to have more of a painters' background, and the tenors of the times, etc, whereas Hyacinth focuses sharply on the effect of this particular painting on the lives of the various owners.

In any case, the suggestion that a follow-up individual reading of Chevalier's book is a good one, as is EmmaBarb's suggestion about the Passion of Artemisia. I know I have not read either of them but I intend to rectify that soon.


May 10, 2003 - 07:30 am
I think I forgot to mention that in my post #174 when I finally did see my high school hero at a reunion after many years had passed, I barely recognized the fortyish, fat, balding lump of a man. It's sort of like another old adage, "Be careful what you wish for," isn't it? I'll never know what I must have looked like to him.


May 10, 2003 - 03:27 pm
Lorrie, long ago memories certainly have a special luster for all of us, don't they? I guess that's because those memories don't have to stand the test of everyday realities.

Traude, thanks for the comparisons. Interesting. I plan to look for both books also.

I was looking at our fourth story, HYACINTH BLUES. Is there anyone else besides me who gets the impression that Ms. Vreeland is presenting the musicians of the small classical concert groups of the period as if they are the rock star idols of their day? Our narrator, Claudine, has all of the characteristics of a groupie.

She's the most complex and unlikable character to date and I can't think how to sum her up in a few words. It does seem though that Claudine is responsible for disenfranchising the painting from its creating artist. When she gets it as a gift from her husband, Gerard, she is told that it was painted by a "minor" artist called Johannes van der Meer and it even has substantiating papers accompanying it. This is the closest we've all gotten so far to determining if the painting is really a Vermeer.

Claudine succeeds in being comical, pathetic and despicable all at the same time. That's quite a word portrait for Ms. Vreeland to paint, but I think she does it splendidly.


May 10, 2003 - 03:29 pm
Happy Mother's Day to all!!


Traude S
May 10, 2003 - 04:35 pm
Harriet, I could not agree more on your evaluation of Claudine. That is a magnificent portrayal - and all in the character's own words. Note also how isolated Claudine felt in the "provinces" as it were -- though Holland was not a province by any means but an independent country -- and how Paris was her only gauge ...

Nor is this an unusual phenomenon, really. Just think of the English presence in the former colonies, and other more recent examples.

The hanky-panky reminded me of our just completed Madame Bovary discussion. I didn't mention it there, but I once overheard my French aunt (with whom my mother was bitterly at odds) saying :

Faute de mieux, on couche avec sa femme , loosely translated "If there isn't anything better around, one sleeps with one's wife."

Of course I never breathed a word to my mother, and I didn't "get" the cynicism of that remark until much later.

kiwi lady
May 10, 2003 - 06:25 pm
Classical music has its "stars" When we were teens there was a handsome young classical Pianist with the Auckland Symphonia. We used to cheer him and clap him and really go overboard mostly because he was so handsome! I don't know if we loved his talent or swooned over him because he really was a dish!


May 10, 2003 - 10:08 pm
Well for me Love is from the Heart, be it dishes, Art, Music or a Human being so Madame Bovary and Hyacinth Blue have put sex above true Love but that is what it has been since the days of ole Not combining love and sex together.

But I do think things are changing as people are learning from books such as Hyathcin Blue and Madame Bovary that Love and the thrill of sex are different as sex is some thing our bodies need like going to the bathroom but does not excuse child molesters, Rapists, etc. I will be reading our new chapters tomorrow and go from there.


May 11, 2003 - 08:16 am
When Claudine had the string of pearls added to the painting, this is what me feel angry. I do not think it is right to add whatever you want to a painting. I feel like she desecrated the painting.

It makes me think of how people will go into a graveyard and destroy graves by throwing over the flowers or removing photographs. I hear about those situations happening in the news. It seems to me a painting is as personal as a gravesite. Whatever has been put there should not be touched.

Both Gerard and Claudine seem extremely selfish. They are married, but their lives never touch one another.

May 11, 2003 - 12:04 pm
Ah, Carolyn, your classical pianist over whom you swooned as a teenager sounds so much more attractive than my high school football hero!


Your comparison of the popular musicians groups of that day to our present day rock idols is really on the mark! By the way, I can't quite figure out just what period of history this was, approximately. Beethoven's "Erotica" was just being introduced, and when the author mentioned the Emperor taking away the Baroness' title, did she mean Napoleon? And yet there is mention of how some people have a necklace tatooed to show sympathy with the guillotine's victims, per the French Revolution?

This is a most complex segment. For one thing, we are dealing here with a not-so-likable character, Claudine, and her husband, besides some raher wishy-washy concert musicians. For the first time we are treated to some welcome humor, and I am still laughing over the author's descritpion of that weird hair-do that Agnes so proudly wore, with its little ship astride her shining waves, and that tiny little flag in the stern.

And Claudine's ongoing battle with her corsets!

Also on Page 91, "The notion of lovers living together is altogether too demanding. One can be caught so unready. Whhen you get to be my age you'll understand. That's pretty profound for our cynical Claudine. And oh yes, that must have been a sight with Claudine, minus one shoe, sweeping back to the grand salon to collect Gerard's lover and bring her back to view his predicament.

In fact, I think this whole segment is hilarious. In some ways it reminds me of a French farce, and very much like what Traude said about Madame Bovary. That remark in French that you overheard, Traude, sounds incredibly cynical, very like what Claudine would probably say.

I was angry, also, Hats, at the thought of hiring another painter to paint in some pearls around the girl's neck in the painting. It would seem like a desecration, and an implied criticism.

By the way, if I am not mistaken, I think this is where the papers on this painting become lost, do they not?


May 11, 2003 - 01:18 pm
Hi Lorrie, I laughed about the hairdo too. I kept laughing. What a nice, light moment in the story.

May 11, 2003 - 04:58 pm
Last month I thought I would jump the gun and read the book - our little town library had two copies! When the discussion started on this chapter I thought for sure my short term memory had really disintegrated so I checked the book out again. Second read made me realize it was that I just didn't like these characters and therefore had little interest and therefore just forgot and maybe my memory is still in tact? To me, Laurens is a most selfish man - self centered individual - and his wife Digna just placates him to keep peace. Laurens bought the picture for a selfish reason(reminds him of a lost first love-which I think was in his mind only) and tells his wife it is a gift for her. To top it all off - when Digna finds out she stomps off and later in the evening presents herself to Laurens in her lovely nightclothes - brushing her long hair etc etc etc. Nothing was really resolved here - he gave the picture to his daughter(can you believe he was actually jealous of her first love?) with the thought he now has an hour's ride to view it. Bah humbug to this man! No wonder I forgot the chapter! I am really thrilled with the way the author pulls you right into it, I felt like I was right there with the family while all this was going on, and a few times wanted to give Digna tap to do something! But then - she knew her husband - and she was happy (and he with her), so I guess the relationship presented by Ms Vreeland was a solid one. Actually - it was a better read the second time around! Sue

May 11, 2003 - 05:12 pm
Sue, isn't it remarkable how a second reading of a story can present the characters in an entirely different light, sometimes? Like you, my first impression of Laurens was of weakness, and yes, impatience with his apparent stupidity on what a wonderful prize he had in Digma, but yes, on second thought, he was obviously appreciaative of his good fortune. Still, I think he must have hurt Digma a great deal with his comparison. He could have taken a lesson in diplomacy there.

Ms. Vreeland is bringing all these wonderful people into sharp focus, and she has a way of conveying unspoken tensions among her characters and their intermingling.

These stories are wonderful. Each one stands alone, which is a marvel in itself, yet each segment reflects how the painting is the central theme in all of them. I'm so glad you checked the book out again, Sue!


May 11, 2003 - 07:28 pm
I think there is a common theme that runs through Adagia and Hyacinth Blues. Both Laurens and Claudine seemed to be looking for passionate love and found it lacking in their marriages. Laurens refered to Digna as having stitched Erasmus's rational thoughts "onto stretched cloth as if onto her heart." He missed the passion that he had with Tanneke. Claudine didn't love her husband. She had been raised to believe that she would eventually love the man who her family had chosen, but it didn't happen. There had been "occasions of passion" but not what she considered to be love. Laurens sought his passion in memory of the past and Claudine sought it in the present. In the end, Claudine tells herself to "think realistically" and realizes that the heart palpitations and boiling blood are not what love is. She seems both disappointed and a little cynical. Laurens, on the other hand, realized how lucky he was and perhaps let go of the longing for Tanneke when he gave up the painting. Laurens and Claudine each came to some realization about the nature of love.

May 11, 2003 - 10:07 pm

How very insightful of you to see the common thread running between the two stories, and now that you mention it, I see it too. On page 105 (paperback)Claudine interprets the painting in a whole new light, "What I saw before as vacancy on her face seemed now an irretrievable innocence and deep calm that caused me a pang. It wasn't jut a feature of her youth, but of something finer---an artless nature"...........


May 12, 2003 - 06:27 am
There was no doubt in my mind when reading the first 3 chapters that the author had great insight to her creation of characters. It was, however, this 4th chapter that I saw the 'art work of words painting'. With each action, thought, and personal explanation, Claudine came alive as the frivolous soul that tickled me to no end. Comical enough to create giggles of enjoyment - picturesque(?) enough that her moves - thoughts - and explanations to me(the reader) were real during these reading moments. Claudine's adoption of the painting appeared to me to be her emotional release, as tho her child, when she dressed it up with the pearls. But - light hearted and always looking towards something else, she discarded the 'adopted' painting with no serious thought of loss. The one passage that really caught my fancy - was the reason for wearing the red ribbon around one's neck! No taste at all, indeed! Sue

May 12, 2003 - 09:34 am
Dave451, thanks for the "common theme" insight.

Sue, you brought up an important point that Laurens was jealous of the love shared by his daughter and her betrothed. That was definitely part of his personality. Thank you.

Hi to Hats, Carolyn and Traude. I enjoy reading your comments so much.

Lorrie, I think that Claudine's husband Gerard must have been posted in Holland as a representative of Napoleon Bonaparte's government. It had to be AFTER the French Revolution, during the period that some aristocrats wore a red ribbon around the neck to commemorate those friends who were beheaded by the guillotine. It must have been BEFORE Napoleon's exile to Elba, possibly sometime between 1805 - 1815?

I love your word "hilarious" to describe this story. Claudine's efforts to equate sexual sensation with musical terms comes out in her flirty conversation with her musician about the Mozart Quartet in C:

"It begins with a pulsing bass note like the heartbeat of a man expectant of fulfillment and then swells to fullness as the higher voices join in."

A crescendo becomes a euphemism for "sublime consummation." Also, her attempts to elevate her affair into a grand passion made me laugh out loud.

"The first movement, molte allegro was a sprightly melody--tra-la-la, tra-la-la, tra-la-la-la, it went, and his hands flitting about cast a spell on me. Hardly able to breathe in the sudden heat, I batted the air with my fan."

Claudine is a vain, selfish, amoral, infantile woman, but there are elements of pathos in her personality also. She relates to the girl in the painting as the daughter that she never had and Claudine's most likable moments come when she muses on this fantasy daughter.

Yet even when her motives are genuine, Claudine is ruled by her innate BAD taste. This status-seeking woman wants to have pearls painted around the neck of the pristine girl in hyacinth blue! In her opinion, everything, including her artless little girl in the painting, is improved with a bit of expensive glitz and shine?

Can you imagine the viewpoint of life that Claudine might have passed on to a REAL daughter?

I don't remember any indication in the book that she actually succeeded in achieving this? Do any of the first three stories from later eras mention pearls around the neck of the girl?


May 12, 2003 - 10:13 am
I never did answer Ms. Vreeland but YES, absolutely, the book can be about art AND about the characters touched by this painting. I was really just curious whether you had a special focus.

I read another novel a couple of years back - I'm forgetting the name and the author (pathetic of me!) - about someone who believed he'd found a new Breughel (sorry about spelling). I find the "detective story" aspect of this book - the wondering whether this is really a Vermeer is part of the fun. I became convinced in the first chapter that it was indeed real, with this: "For Vermeer, signatures are not defnite evidence. Technique is. Look at the direction of the brush's stroke, those tiny groves of the brush hairs. They have their lighted and their shaded side. Look elsehwere. You'll find overlapping layers of paint no thicker than silk threat that give a minute difference in shade. That's what makes it a Vermeer."

Can art historians tell a true painting from such clues? So many have been fooled in this century that one has to wonder.

What do you think, Ms. Vreeland, about the theory - now where did I read this - that the Dutch masters used camera obscurae to create their images, given how exact they are. This author thought that there were clues that these painters were using reverse images - for example, the proliferation of left handedness out of proportion to the actual incidence. Fascinating theory!

I will get to the individual story, but I always have wondered what it was like for you, Ms. Vreeland, to have this book be such a hit at the same time as "the other Vermeer book" as I often called it at the time. Was it pure coincidence? I take it people often confused the two which must have made for some interesting email, letters, and discussion at readings!

May 12, 2003 - 10:33 am
What a good point, Sue!

Despite her emotional connection to the painting, Claudine did discard her painting of a surrogate daughter WITHOUT its accompanying papers when she needed money, and thereby forevermore confused the issue of who the artist actually was. Then she lied about the identity of the artist to one of the dealers to whom she tried to sell it. She represented the painting as a van Mieris because she thought that would get her more cash.

When you come right down to it, we have only Claudine's memory of the papers that came with the painting to assure us that the girl in hyacinth blue really WAS created by Vermeer.

Would YOU trust Claudine's memory to remember the name of a "minor artist" accurately if she didn't have its papers in front of her? Did she pass on the information about Vermeer accurately to the first art dealer? Did she have enough sense to remember such details?

What an irresponsible, frivolous (thanks for this word, Sue!) creature Claudine is! It occurs to me that even our belief about the truth of her statements to the first art dealer about the correct origin and history of her painting might have to be weighed through the filter of her personality flaws.


Edit: Sarah, I read your comments only after posting mine. Later, then.

May 12, 2003 - 10:48 am
Ditto, Harriet! Will catch up!

May 12, 2003 - 11:55 am
Oh, I am enjoying these comments!

Sarah! Back in Post #98, EmmaBarb mentioned about "camera obscura" and I was so fascinated I posted a link to some facts about this interesting procedure. Here it is again:



Susan Vreeland
May 12, 2003 - 10:38 pm
I'm enjoying your sometimes conflicting opinions about Laurens, and your delight as well as annoyance with Claudine. I do remember having fun creating her. The idea came when I was sitting in a boring faculty meeting in the library of the high school where I taught at the time. Unable to stand another minute of the useless chatter, I picked off a book from the shelf next to where I was sitting. It was a history of costume. The more I read the clearer the character of Claudine came to me.

Yes to the person who did the research on time. It was between 1805-15.

Claudine sold the painting before she had a chance to get the pearls painted on. In truth, this was not an uncommon thing for Dutch owners of genre paintings to do. They wanted the art in their living rooms to reflect a level of financial and social degree that they achieved. Some paintings (none by Vermeer) were desecrated in this way, often changing the hair style or the collar or something to keep up with the times. I know, it's horrifying. I just had to put that in as a threat to the painting in the hopes that the reader would think, "close call". The survival of this painting through time is something I wanted the reader to care about.

Yes, several Dutch painters used the camera obscura, including Vermeer. Tracy Chevalier's book describes it.


May 13, 2003 - 04:11 am
Thanks for the wonderful site/sight, Lorrie!

May 13, 2003 - 06:05 am
Lorrie, along with Nettie, I want to thank you for the site too.

kiwi lady
May 13, 2003 - 10:58 am
Hello everyone

Sorry I have been missing these past couple of days but have been busy with family.

About Claudine. I feel as ambivalent toward her as I did to Madam Bovery! I guess this means the character is well drawn!

Laurens - I think he loved his wife and his memories were just that- memories; romantic and embellished!


May 13, 2003 - 11:05 am
Lorrie ~ thanks for posting that link for camera obscura again. It's been thought that several artists back then (including Vermeer) used this method of painting's especially visible when you see reflections in brass or shiny objects. There have been articles written about it where it's said to be a form of cheating. However, it hasn't been proved.

May 13, 2003 - 11:05 am
Claudine does have a very picturesque style and enthusiasm about life. In many ways she is superficial and frivolous, but at the same time she can be very perceptive and describes things almost with the eye of an artist. She is a curious mix of sensitivity to some things and lack of sensitivity to many others. It's too bad that her lack of sensitivity about the painting cut it off from its past.

May 13, 2003 - 12:28 pm
Sorry folks, I'm a little behind. This week is finals week and then graduation on Saturday. So you can see I've been busy. And in addition to this book discussion and studying, I'm reading a book for my live book club, The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I am keeping up on the reading here but haven't had a moment to post a thought. Lorrie touched on something I was thinking as I read the third story. Laurens was focused on the painting as a representation of his memories of a long-ago-and-not-quite love affair. He has so many regrets about it and imagines that he knows what would have happened between himself and Tanneke had he not been such a fool at the time. He can imagine their joy of a life together if only he had done things differently. But we all know that what we imagine and what truely happens are usually never the same. He's been living for a memory that has no real basis in truth. I felt the love he shares with Digna and she did too, he just needed the impetus of giving away the painting to teach him the depth of their love.

I didn't like the characters in the fourth story. They didn't deserve the beauty and vision of the painting and "The Girl" was fortunate to be passed on to others who would love her for her artistry and pathos.

I'll be back next week with more time to participate.

May 13, 2003 - 01:00 pm
Ah, Prissy, Congratulations on your upcoming graduation on Saturday!

I think we can all safely agree that the fourth story, Hyacinth Blues, is a complex one. These chracters are not shallow at all, and we could all see some redeeming qualities, toward the end, in Claudine, right?

On Thursday we will continue with "Morningshine" and ""From the Personal Papers of Adriaan Kuypers", but before we do, I wondered:

The questions I posted above are not really pointed ones, in fact, they are focused on the whole book, per se, rather than separate segments, but are there any questions there that you feel you can answer from your own perceptions? For instance, Question #4, this painting seems to have a different effect on its owners. Why?


May 13, 2003 - 01:08 pm

"Site/sight indeed!" Thought you would slip that one on by, didn't you?


May 13, 2003 - 01:25 pm
Lorrie, at the end, I did see "redeeming qualities" in Claudine. At the end, she seemed more mature. It seemed as though the girl in the painting gave Claudine a new outlook on life. Susan Vreeland writes it better than I can paraphrase it.

"I determined I would be just as content as my lost girl gazing out her own sunlit window. A great deal can be said for just sitting and thinking."

Traude S
May 13, 2003 - 07:41 pm
Lorrie, I too am behind with all posts, and I apologize. But I continue reading, and re-reading, and work on the questions.

Back soon.

May 13, 2003 - 09:48 pm
Not to worry, dear Traude! The beauty of these individual segments is that when one moves on to another, no train of thought is lost in the passage, and it is very easy to go back and reread what has been written.

I can't remember ever reading a book with this same kind of reverse chronology, but I must say I do like it. Once one understands the purpose of this method, there's a sort of continuity in the passage of time as each story unfolds. Well done, Susan!


May 14, 2003 - 05:35 pm
I am just a wee bit early posting on the Moringshine, I do hope that I am right that this part of the discussion starts on the fourteenth?

I finished reading it today and don't want to miss any more of the feelings I have about it as I trully enjoyed it.

Susan what a heartwarming book Girl in Hyacinth Blue is and I thank you for writing it.

Whoever placed the baby in the basket and then in the boat had to love the baby and the Vermeer painting also and knew of its value to leave the note knowing it would be enough when sold to take care of the baby. The baby and the Vermeer painting fell into the right hands as Saski, Marta and Piet were trully happy to have the baby Jantje. I liked the name morningshine Saskia gave the name of the Vermeer as to me it seems to fit Very well.

Whoop's having been a farmer I understand what Stijins seed potatoes are and that they are very much needed for the next crop. My Grandmother on Mothers side came from Ireland during the potatoe fammine.

Saskia Loved the painting so much she was tempted to lie to her husband to be able to keep it but being the person she is must be honest with him as hard as it was to sell the Vermeer. I felt so bad she had to sell the painting to survive I almost cried understanding her love for this work of art even not knowing the value of it.

OH while I have your ear Annie3, I told my neibors that I finally would be able to buy the cups for my dishes, Thanks again.


May 14, 2003 - 05:44 pm
Now on to read "From the Personal Papers"

May 14, 2003 - 05:52 pm
Actually, Ginger, the next scheduled day for a new story is tomorrow,the 15th. (The first of may was on a Thursday, remember?) But what difference do a few hours make? It's not all written in stone. By the way, you made the infant discovery a tender moment, thank you. Does anyone know the meaning of a wilted cabbage leaf?

I enjoyed the change of scenery in this story, didn't you?

In Morningshine, the setting for the story is completely new, and we are surrounded by flood- filled canals, and our author describes them wonderfully, even at the very beginning of the segment, Page 109:
“Vapors of varying gray made the neighboring four farmhouses indistinct, yet there was a shine on the water like the polished pewter of her mother’s kitchen back home.”..................Great writing.

Saskia ‘s marriage to a poor farmer, Stijn, leaves much to be desired, at least in Saskia’s eyes. She longs for increased signs of affection from her husband, and milks every chance touch for its loving possibility.

With this character of Saskia, I get the impression of a young wife who has married” beneath her station” (the womewhat contemptuous allusions to “farmers”, and when Saskia tells Stijn that they can borrow money from her parents). When a tiny infant is found floating in a boat along with this beautiful painting, Sakia feels that it is a judgment of God.

Susan, I really like this portrayal of the setting of a truly “wet” Holland. When you wrote about Saskia’s trip to Woldjik, then Groningen, I rode past the sugar beet refinery, heard the banging and hammering of the metal workers, and munched on a cinnamon waffle, too. You made the whole atmosphere come alive, and I felt that I was in a Holland of many years ago that I could never have imagined until now.


May 14, 2003 - 07:42 pm
Ginger you are too sweet! My joy is as great as yours for having found that pattern!
Does the wilted cabbage mean good luck/long life? I greatly enjoyed this story. It was easy to be the woman and feel her feelings.

May 14, 2003 - 10:20 pm
I was wondering also about the meaning of the wilted cabbage leaf, and I understand it's herbs for a girl infant?

May 15, 2003 - 05:00 am

I wondered about the painting that belonged to Saskia's grandmother. Susan Vreeland gives the full name. It is titled "Groot Hollandsche Waard." It is described as a painting of a horrible flood. This painting hung above the virginal in Saskia's grandmother's home. Is it possible to know who painted this painting? Is it a painting within a painting which Vermeer painted? If I have missed one of Vermeer's paintings in the heading, I will be terribly ashamed.

I do not think Susan Vreeland wastes her words. I think this painting is named for a reason.

May 15, 2003 - 08:52 am
Hats, that is a very good question, and I am going to put it to Susan when she reports back in here. She has been so good about responding to our comments. Can you tell me which page the mention of the flood painting is on? I see where I must go back and reread some more.

How about it, Susan? can you respond to Hat's query in #213?


May 15, 2003 - 10:14 am
Hi Lorrie, the painting is mentioned on page 119. I love this book, Lorrie. Each time I read a story, I glean something else. The stories are jam packed.

May 15, 2003 - 04:28 pm
Yes, and like you said, there isn't a wasted word.

I will always be grateful to Susan Vreeland for bringing this marvelous painter to our attention. There is a rush on Vermeer paintings now, mostly because of this book and Chevalier's "Girl With a Pearl Earring."

It's a very good story, and I am also enjoying reading all the different comments from our posters. Does anyone else feel a sort of mystery about the actual painting---is it real? Or simply a figment of our author's imagination? Do you also experience a slight feeling of suspense as we slowly draw back in time to where the painting actually was begun?


May 15, 2003 - 04:38 pm
Thank you, Hats.

On page 121, when Saskia finally washed off the painting and got a good look at it, the description is remarkable: "Pouring in the window, creamy yellow light the color of the inner petals of jonquils illuminated the young girls's face and reflected points of light on her shiny fingernails. Morningshine, she called it, for her grandmother had told her that paintings had names."

Traude S
May 15, 2003 - 04:52 pm

it is plausible that Susan Vreeland did see the actual Groot Hollandse Waard painting, which she described so well. I'm sure she will let us know.

There are new developments, even if they go back in time rather than forward, and we may well have more to comment on and ask about. I reread Hyacinth Blues, and that has helped me to see Claudine in a kinder light. After all, she was humiliated and no doubt ashamed.

It is in this segment that the painting becomes separated from the documentation, which was safely locked away in Gerard's strongbox (pg.105), inaccessible to Claudine.

The author has given us extraordinarily vivid impressions into the nature of her characters, not all of whom are likable: I found Laurens in Adagia rather self-involved and insensitive to Digna's feelings-- before he had the change of heart. Demonstrably, some men can be like that.

LORRIE, I totally agree. The lyrical descriptions of the flooded landscape and the painting itself are wonderful.

When I was little, we spent a few summers in Scheveningen, a seaside resort. My mother disliked the steady wind blowing in from the North Sea and watched from the safety of her large wicker beach chair. I am trying to find an illustration somewhere.

May 15, 2003 - 06:05 pm
Traude, that could very well be possible. I have a feeling you are right. Lorrie, you and all of the other posters are helping me appreciate art and Susan Vreeland's book more everyday.

While reading Morningshine, I wondered at the many times the color blue is mentioned. I love the color blue. It was my mother's favorite color. I have always thought of blue as peaceful and quiet.

On page 122, there is a whole paragraph that includes the color blue. It starts with the fact that "the girl in the painting had a blue smock..." In that one paragraph alone, blue is mentioned over six times. I do not count well. I might have miscounted. Then, at the end of the story, Saskia buys "blue Leiden wool."

Lorrie, your quoted paragraph reminds me of how beautifully descriptive Susan Vreeland writes.

Traude, I wish we could hear more about your travels. I will never get the chance to visit such places.

May 15, 2003 - 08:39 pm
Yes, Traude, how interesting it is for us stay-a-homes to travel vicariously with all the posters here who have been fortunate enough to see a bit of the world. I think that's one reason why I enjoy Susan's description of Holland; a Holland I shall never see, but is vivid in my imagination through her words.

Did anyone notice what a difference there is between the outlook of this young couple? Saskia sees the glass as half-full, and of course Stijn perceives it as half-empty. On page 128, "The sight of winter fields waiting for planting on the island side of the dike filled her with hope. But even that wouldn't have the same effect on Stijn."

Saskia has very little in the sense of beautiful things, unlike the fairly prosperous farm of her grandmother, and her longing to have something lovely is the underlying reason she clings to the painting so long, even deceiving her husband about selling it. As she tells him,"All you see in life is the work...............That's all life is to you. But not to me, Stijn. Not to me. There's got to be some beauty too."


May 16, 2003 - 05:49 pm
Well, I don't know about the rest of you - but I am totally exhausted from moving all the valuables(life's essentials) and the cow up to a higher level - I just want to collapse! What a stunning use of words to tell this story of the flood and it's effect on this truly loving family. Not only could I visualize each happening - but I could feel it - traveling with 3 children - much less rowing them to a destination - to save the family from ruin. Saskia could teach Claudine the true meaning of love for other persons and objects. Was so very 'proud' of Saskia for telling Stijn the truth about the value of the painting. Did anyone feel as I do, - on the last page of the chapter - "Saskia and Stijn, would never be as they were" could mean that they would be much stronger in their love for each other, for their own two children and for Jantje? Have to get back to the book! Sue

May 16, 2003 - 06:11 pm
Sue, Thank You for the reminder that we are in Week Three so that I know that I can put my thoughts about "From the Personal Papers" in a post as it is hard for some of us older Seniors to know without the actual days when to post what.

Traude S
May 17, 2003 - 07:43 am
Sue, I too hoped that Saskia and Stijn's love and appreciation for each other would become stronger, but I am not altogether convinced. I believe each will have to compromise to some extent:

the taciturn man, a realist, who invests his entire life in growing his potato crop despite the setbacks and hardships created by the periodically recurring floods; and the dreamy wife who loved him but is not altogether of the same cloth, shall we say.

Note how the events decribed in The Papers of ... dovetail with those in Morningshine, and compare the realities of Jantje's birth with Saskia's artfully constructed assumptions and Stijn's more sober speculations.

The devastating force of nature, the flood water breaking through the dikes, the shoulder-to-shoulder vigil by the men till morning when the tide changes, are described in heart-breaking detail.

May 17, 2003 - 08:51 am
Ah, Sue, I too feel exhausted after reading of that poor woman's efforts to bring all the valuables upstairs. (How on earth did she move a cow up some stairs, is what I wonder?)

Susan makes life on those water-logged dikes come alive, and we all get a glimpse of how difficult it must have been during flood times for those hardy Dutch people to survive.

I'm afraid I have to gently agree with Traude on the ending, Sue. It would be nice to think that with the sale of the painting that the relationship between these two young people would be so much better, but I personally feel that because Saskia felt she had to relinquish the painting, there would always be a core of resentment in her heart. That "they, Saskia and Stijn, would never again be as they were."


May 17, 2003 - 09:24 am
What a fascinating portrait of a marriage in Morningshine. Traude, I agree with your assessment of Saskia and Stijn.

At first I was filled with admiration for Saskia. What a brave woman, I thought. She keeps courage and love in her heart while this flood threatens her with the loss of everything she holds dear. Yet, little by little, as the story continued, I began to see both she and her husband, Stijn, in a different light.

Saskia is endowed with an artless, loving optimism. Her personality protects her from understanding the full impact of her situation. She opens her arms and heart generously to the orphaned baby, her husband and children, God, and the world, because, in her life up until this moment, everything has finally always turned out all right if she only had enough faith and waited patiently.

Stijn, her husband has a different philosophy. He has no illusions about a kindly fate. He knows that he must WORK to make things all right, he must plan ahead...take responsibility. Perhaps his wife's indefatigable cheerfulness and faith wears him down at times as he struggles to protect his family? Doesn't her assumption that there is no real problem...that God will protect them all...unwittingly belittle and trivialize his constant struggles to support his family in the real world?

Saskia comes across as the more warm and charismatic character in this story. She IS more likable than her husband and she IS a wonderful woman, but she is experiencing a "first." Life is producing a situation that won't come out entirely as she hopes. She is moving out of the protected realm of her idyllic childhood into the world of reality. She cannot keep the painting, but she CAN keep the baby. Saskia's own mother expresses it best when she talks about her son-in-law, Stijn.

"Work is love made plain, whether man's or woman's work, and you're a fool if you don't recognize it. The child's the blessing, Saskia, not the painting." p. 150.

I agree, Traude, that Saskia and Stijn will have to compromise to some extent, but is that such a bad thing? Life, with a capital "L" is what happens to ALL of us. It changes us, matures us, saddens us and elates us. Stijn, with all his anxiety, still has love enough to want to take in the baby. Our endearing , lovable Saskia must give up her exquisite painting to ensure the future of their farm and the financial security of her children and the new baby...and life will go on.

Such hard choices...


Traude S
May 17, 2003 - 10:59 am

no, compromise is not a bad thing. in fact, I believe that life requires it and that we, like the trees, need to bend - to better withstand the inevitable winds of time.

Looking forward to your impressions on the next segment - much to digest there ...

May 17, 2003 - 11:32 am
It is so very interesting how we can read the same thing, and have such difference of opinions - to a degree. I am in agreement with the need to compromise and to bend with the winds. My feelings are that this was taking place and in evidence in the last few pages of the chapter. We bring so much of who we are - how we are feeling - and our experiences - into what we read - so I will just end this with - Viva la' difference! This is one of those books that would make a great face to face discussion - Ms Vreeland has portrayed her characters using such thoughtful insight to the many sides of us! Sue

May 17, 2003 - 02:05 pm
Oh, I love it when we get differing opinions on the characters in books, and the interpretations we get from reading about these people! It will be interesting to see how our author, Susan Vreeland, responds to these posts!


May 17, 2003 - 06:52 pm
I have to agree that Saskia's mother cut to the chase and articulated my own feelings about Saskia and Stijn. Saskia's desire for beauty is understandable, but it is causing her to lose perspective and do things that are harmful such as using the seed potatoes. Once again there is the theme of the tension between the pursuit of passion & beauty vs. practicality & prudence. As Adriaan Kuypers says, "passion and prudence are rare sleepmates."

May 18, 2003 - 05:40 am
I think Saskia's deep desire to own the painting is because she closely relates the painting to the baby. She loves the painting because it is beautiful, but Saskia also loves the painting because she sees the woman in the painting as the baby's mother.

"See, Jantje, how beautiful she is. Maybe this is your mother. See how young she looks? A fine lady in a fine home." If that was so, Jantje had to know that his mother wore blue. The shawl was not blue enough. Besides, it was old and torn. He needed the painting."

To Saskia, the painting is a part of the baby's history. I think Saskia feels she must keep the painting so that Jantje will have a part of himself to know and remember.

In all of the stories, it seems the painting surpasses something of beauty and becomes a personal part of the person's life.

May 18, 2003 - 08:20 am
Yes, yes, Hats, this is the first time there has been mention of a relationship between the girl in the painting and one of the owners. "She loves the painting because it is beautiful, but Saskia also loves the painting because she sees the woman in the painting as the baby's mother."

I must say I was surprised at Saskia's mother's reaction. Given the somewhat sheltered life Saskia had led, I assumed that the mother would automatically leap to her daughter's defense, but the fact remains that the mother is still a farmer's wife, and the thought of someone squandering away their seed potatoes is repugnant. Very good characterization here.


May 18, 2003 - 01:31 pm
First - please let me thank all of you for returning me to the land of good discussion! It's been a long long time. Many skills have been rusting away and thru this, the'oils' needed to bring them back are being provided. So in agreement about so much of this story - however my neglect to point out passages that bring me to the conclusion that the relationship between "Saskia and Stijin will never be as they were" but much better, have been omitted. Saskia's visit to her family provided her with the wisdom of her Mother - and I believe she truly listened and made use of this wisdom. Stijin suggested Saskia purchase a painting of lesser value - but one she would enjoy(his thoughtfullness is blossoming) and Saskia's purchase of tulips (something from the ground which she knew was important to Stijin- her thoughtfullness is blossming). The combination of these two actions, yet the joined love and acceptance of the child into their family - in my thoughts indicates a growth for both of them. I hope this makes it clearer as to what I initially stated. Sue

May 18, 2003 - 02:40 pm
I have finished the In Girl in Hyacinth Blue and enjoyed it in many ways such as reading it from the last to the first as it sure kept my interest. I enjoyed getting to read about each owner and what the painting meant to each and everyone of them. Lorrie I will say no more at this time.

Susan Vreeland Thank You So Much.

Susan Vreeland
May 18, 2003 - 11:32 pm
I think your comments on Morningshine are, on the whole, of a deeper, more perceptive nature than some of the earlier stories. I'm so pleased when I sense that you are feeling deeply the plight of this couple, and I'm glad you didn't see Stijn as an ogre, but as a hard-working, worried man whose life up to this point had no room for things of beauty and for sacrifice for beauty. Yes, he is beginning to understand Saskia's need more. I thought the person who made the comment on their sensibilities "blossoming" was very good, especially understanding the reference to tulips as something that provided a connection between their two worlds.

Groot Hollandsche Waard is the name of an actual painting of a flood, but it's by a lesser known, or no longer known artist. Literal translation: groot = great, vast, large Hollandsche = Hollandish, or Dutch waard = worth Now see if you can make some sense out of that. You're on your own there.

A side note: Friday night was the San Diego Book Awards, sort of like our city's answer to the big literary and publishing events in NY. My more recent book, The Passion of Artemisia, took "Best Mainstream Novel," and also the grand award of all categories, "Best Book of 2002, The Theodore Geisel Award" (late author of the Dr. Seuss books, a San Diegan who was a great benefactor of the arts and libraries here). In 1999, Girl in Hyacinth Blue won both of these awards.

I'm working daily on my current book, usually putting in 12-hour days, as I'm close to a deadline. It's very difficult to wrench myself out of that world to read your posts and go back to Girl, so I'm sure you'll understand if you don't hear from me often. You're doing fine without me!


May 19, 2003 - 07:13 am
Hey, there, Sue, you see I'm not the only one who appreciates your thoughtful comments here! (Post #232)
  • *********************************************************************

    Susan, what good news about those Awards! Congratulations on these well-deserved honore! Please don't apologize for not coming in here more often, we all understand the time pressure you must be under, and we are deeply appreciative of the times you do appear. What a marvelous writer you are, Susan!
  • *******************************************************************

    I wanted to mention about the character of Aletta, in "Personal Papers....."
    Does anyone else find her to be very enigmatic? To me she seems a strange person, very fey, and definitely full of superstitions. It is interesting to note how she found a home with Adrian's aunt, who had been shamed into taking her in because the Aunt's husband was a slaver. This is a very different type of woman than what we have been reading about up until now. Very complex, and I sense a sort of tragedy about her. Anyone else?

    By the way, in this segment there is a fascinating explanation of just how a windmill works......Another very good example of the impeccable research this author has done.

  • kiwi lady
    May 19, 2003 - 01:00 pm
    Congratulations Susan on your award.

    Sorry folks I have not been able to come in much to this discussion. To be honest I have not had a lot of time to read as I have been in demand by my family where there are 6 grandchildren under 6 and three families where I am the only grandparent living in this city.


    May 19, 2003 - 01:20 pm
    Dear "Grandma" Carolyn:

    Never fear, you are among your peers here. The only grandparent to three families! I'll be very happy to borrow one, or two, or more! Just come and join us whenever you have a chance---your comments are always welcome.


    May 19, 2003 - 03:47 pm
    This chapter tore at my heart and all I could think while I was reading about Aletta was how glad I was there are no longer witch hunts.(well - there are a certain kind still in evidence) The torment of her mind was so thoughtfully presented. I wanted to hug her, yet I knew she would have pushed this hug away. Adriaan, I thought, was a remarkable young man - so much empathy for his friend. The passages leading up to the hanging were so full of emotion - you could feel his sobs that wracked him when he "felt the closest thing to love". His love for the child, his search for the right family to leave the child with, and the understanding of the value of the painting to help the child's future - made me think I'd like to learn more about him and his own future.

    The inclusion of the stories about the peat and the church bells were also a fascinating part of this tale. Sue

    May 19, 2003 - 09:13 pm
    Susan Vreeland ~ How wonderful that you took "Best Mainstream Novel" and the grand award of all categories as well for your book "The Passion of Artemisia" .... please accept my deepest congratulations! I greatly enjoyed "Girl in Hyacinth BLue" but I must tell you this more recent book is even better. Thank you again for making it possible!
    Oh I do hope SeniorNet can find a way to continue this discussion of Artemisia.

    May 20, 2003 - 02:23 am
    Along with EmmaBarb, I would like to congratulate you too, Susan Vreeland. You greatly deserve your rewards. I have thoroughly enjoyed and gained much from reading Girl in Hyacinth Blue. I am looking forward to reading Artemesia and any of your future books.

    May 20, 2003 - 09:55 am
    What magic a wonderful writer like Ms. Vreeland can produce! These two stories, MORNINGSHINE and PERSONAL PAPERS intertwine, just as Traude mentioned.

    Each reflects different aspects of its characters and the era in which the story occurs. Good-natured Saskia is merely being herself in MORNINGSHINE as she laughs with her two children and kisses the orphaned baby's toes. Yet as I read PERSONAL PAPERS, I began to see her as a miracle worker who is providing a new and loving life for Aletta's son,...for surely he would have been persecuted by the town of Delfzijl because his mother was hanged as a witch and murderess.

    The baby's destiny is so wonderfully different now. Saskia was sure that the serene, lovely girl in the painting must have been the baby's mother, and she will probably tell the little boy about the fantasy family history that she believes belongs to him. He will be proud of his mother as he grows up in his new loving family.

    Oh, I'm so glad Aletta's son will grow up proud of his mother, even if he doesn't know who she is. Aletta deserves a break! Aunt Rika grudgingly allowed her to wash clothes in her home until she was 18. Doesn't that mean, since she was still there, that Aletta was executed BEFORE her 18th birthday? What a short life, filled with torment, persecution and disappointment! Even her scholarly lover, Adriaan, was shocked at the persistence of superstition in his era which he considered "enlightened?" But then, don't we all consider our OWN era to be enlightened?

    I couldn't help being upset at the differences between how Aletta and Adriaan were treated. At least two townspeople knew that Adriaan was involved with Aletta. Yet, in the minds of the "good" people of the town, only the angry, fey Aletta deserved censure.

    Aunt Rika informed the town authorities where Aletta was TO SAVE ADRIAAN FROM HIMSELF?!!!

    Aletta thought Adriaan would marry her after they first made love. If he had, might things have gone differently? Would she still have felt forced to smother the little girl baby with the cleft palette? Yet, if the cleft palette was not solvable in 1717, would the baby have starved slowly, unable to ingest the milk? Did Aletta save the baby from a more painful death?

    So much to think very heartwrenching....


    Traude S
    May 20, 2003 - 07:00 pm
    Sorry about not posting more; arthritis has slowed me to a crawl.

    Belatedly I'd like to extend sincere congratulations to Ms. Vreeland on the literary honors she's received.

    I appreciate the recent posts and the insights conveyed in them.

    May 20, 2003 - 09:08 pm
    Oh, Harriet, how enchanting your word picture of how the infant's future will be so perfect, according to the fantasies of Saskia, despite the somewhat grim background of where the real mother may have come from. Poor Aletta. Of all the women in these stories, my heart really goes out to her----I do believe she is the most tragic of all of them, and given the circumstances of her time and her environment, she never really had a chance.

    Traude, I am so sorry about your arthritis. It does handicap a person, doesn't it? I do hope you will show some improvement soon.

    Susan, I wanted to veer off the book subject for just a moment. I have been rereading your biographical essay, " A Child's Garden of Words," and was impressed by several things. One thing caught my eye, when you said. "My mother's more placid love for visual art took root in me at a young age. She called colors by their fruit or flower names--tangerine, peach, apricot, lavender, lilac......."

    My grandmother would do the very same, and she was also a lover of things "artistic", as she would say.

    Also, when you spoke of your future plans, you mentioned. "Now Van Gogh's haunting painting, The Potato Eaters, is speaking its stories to me."Have you given any thought to responding to Van Gogh's painting?


    Susan Vreeland
    May 20, 2003 - 10:27 pm
    Yes, I have a story in mind for The Potato Eaters painting, but it's too far off for me to reveal it. I have my head focused in the novel of Emily Carr, poor unnamed novel that it is at this point. I'm working on it very intensely. It's a longer novel than Artemisia, more than twice the length of Girl, 460 manuscript pages. You can read a paragraph description of it on the "Works in Progress" page of my website.


    May 20, 2003 - 10:36 pm
    Susan Vreeland ~ Work in Progress

    May 21, 2003 - 01:46 am
    Hi Traude, sorry about your arthritis. Thank you EmmaBarb for the link. All of Susan Vreeland's books sound very interesting, and I can not wait to read each one of her books. I would love to meet Emily Carr in a book.

    I did not comment on Aletta because like Lorrie and Harriet have said she is such a sad and tragic character. Her story is "heart wrenching." I have always taken superstitions lightly. This story reminds me that beliefs in superstitions by one person and/or a whole town can only lead to a horrible end. Someone might have already mentioned the people who were taken in Salem because people chose to persecute certain ones for practicing witchcraft.

    I am also reminded of The Crucible by Arthur Miller. I think this play covers the same subject matter. I can not remember it very well. Aletta deeply believed in these superstitions. She had no other belief system. In her mind, I think, she thought that the act of smothering her baby was saving it.

    "She'll live a short life taunted by jeers and she'll turn mean and wild and then die of loneliness. Better dead already. Better send the poor thing to her Maker before she gets used to life."

    I feel sorry for Adriaan. He could not save her. He could not make her see the world in a different way. In this village, I think Adriaan was touched or shaped by the superstitions too. He talks to Aletta about the twins and how it is silly to take such a superstition to heart. At first, his conviction is not strong either.

    "Twins were the worst kind of omen, Aletta said afterward, and this one, her little lip was split like a cat's or a hare's. The mark of the Evil One's claw on her surely. "That's nothing of the kind," I said, with less firmness than I had intended."

    Then, As Adriaan listens to Aletta, I think he realizes that she has taken another step into darkness. She can not see any possible future for her baby. Then, Adriaan says,

    "You lay one hand against that child and you'll endanger your immortal soul."

    Adriaan brings me back from hopelessness to hope. He saves the other baby. His actions make me realize that two people, no matter how close, do not have to drown together, one person can save himself and in the process, save another poor soul.

    Aletta saw the life and person she wanted to be in the painting. If only she stared long enough at the painting, there might be a possibility that she could live a quiet, serene life like the girl in the painting. Aletta wanted Descarte's thoughts to be more than words written on paper. "I think, therefore I am."

    "She looked up to the painting imploringly. "You think somewhere girls actually live like that--just sitting so peaceful like?"

    Susan Vreeland, thank you for introducing me to the teachings of philosophers whom I have only heard about, Erasmus and Descartes. Then, taking their words a step further and relating their ideas to art. That must be difficult. It certainly takes a person with a creative mind.

    May 21, 2003 - 06:59 am
    What a wonderful post, Hats. Thank you for your insights.


    May 21, 2003 - 07:39 am
    I know this sounds like "gushing" but I really am impressed with the type of comments we are getting here, about this wonderful book. Each of you has a different viewpoint, and each of you offers his or her particular insight in a thoughtful, considered manner. I am enjoying this discussion immensely, and not only because of the presence of the eminent author.

    Susan, I am hopelessly hooked. I shall look for every word you have written, and especially for this new one you are working on. Such creative endeavor surely must reap great rewards, even if one of them is a gathering of devoted readers, like us.


    Susan Vreeland
    May 21, 2003 - 08:00 am
    Here, thanks to the quick efforts of my friend Gayle Vreeland, is a Dutchman's take on Groot Hollandsche Waard: Waard = innkeeper, landlord, host Waard = drake (male duck) (River) waard = holm, foreland, foreshore Waard = diked land, area; polder

    I can tell you that in "groot Hollandsche waard" (aka de "Zuidhollandse waard), waard has to be read as: polder. The large polder of -the province of- South Holland. This former polder was situated situated SSE of the city of Dordrecht and flooded in 1421. Sixteen villages drowned.

    The painting in Saskia's mother's house I take to be the tops of houses and trees flooded in 1421. I remember seeing it in a book. It was both tragic and eerily beautiful, if that's possible.

    Thanks, Gayle. Quick work!


    kiwi lady
    May 21, 2003 - 09:47 pm
    I today received my very own copy of this book thanks to one of the posters in this discussion. Thank You! Thank You!. It will be treasured and I will remember every one of you and also the author who has done us the honor of posting in this discussion. I had to give the borrowed copy from the library back already as there was only one copy available. Books are very expensive here due to the exchange rate and of course they are not always available. I have now four books sent to me by wonderful SN bookie friends. They each have the name of the person who sent them and the date of the discussion in the inside cover. I have bought some of the books we have discussed also and they are inscribed with the date and year of the discussion. I will always remember all the posters in each discussion. These books hold pride of place in my book case. A shelf of memories!

    Back tomorrow with some comments. Out all day today at Grands school etc. My bichon frise Penny the littlest one has colitis again so today I again had no time to do any reading.


    kiwi lady
    May 21, 2003 - 09:51 pm
    PS Just been into Susan's web site.

    The Emily Carr book is going to be irresistable. I MUST get it when it comes out! I have never heard of Emily Carr probably because I live in New Zealand!


    May 22, 2003 - 06:54 am
    Carolyn, your post about the different marked books you have added to your personal library was very touching. I know I speak for the others here as well when i say we all welcome our friends from Down Under. You have all added a welcome touch to our discussions. BTW I surely hope your littlest Penney is better soon!


    May 22, 2003 - 07:11 am
    We are now approaching the final days of our discussion, and from here on in, we will not only talk about the last two segments, but will also discuss the whole book in general. I have a feeling that you will consider these last stories the most important ones in the overall collection. I believe the story of Magdalena to be especially vital.

    Before we begin, however, I wanted to comment once more on "Personal Papers, etc."
    I felt that the part about Aletta's death was especially vivid. The utter desolation of that scene, with the wretched girl shivering in the rain, her shaved head open to the scrutiny of the few people who watched from dry stations in their windows...........I was very affected by this particular scene and the description of the flood following. As Aletta had predicted, "The waterwolf was baring white fangs that dripped their foam over the embankment."


    May 22, 2003 - 07:57 am
    Hi Lorrie, I felt that Aletta died a wretched death too and the scene was very "vivid." Throughout her life Aletta came across as a wild woman who would spit or scream angry words. She came across as such a troubled soul. At her death, she was so different.

    She went to her horrid death in a dignified manner. It is almost as if, in her final moments, her wish came true. She became the girl in the painting. She seemed serene and at peace, with her end. Adriaan thinks,

    "I think she stood up straighter on the cart just then and stretched her neck longer, as though Rika herself were watching her. The shame of dying, of being sent to die, was nowhere in her posture."

    I think Susan Vreeland depicted the stiffness, orderliness or self righteousness of the town so well.

    "I looked at Rika with her braid wound smugly on the top of her head, not a hair disordered."

    Then, even though Aletta is being drenched in the rain, the time of the hanging must happen at noon, not a minute before or after.

    "Though the water-soaked earth be removed and though the mountains be cast into the sea, order must be had. They would hang her puctually at noon, making her wait that last miserable half hour in bone-chilling rain, her head shaved."

    Thank you Susan Vreeland and Gayle for all of your research and translation. The information about the town flood was very interesting.

    May 22, 2003 - 08:05 am
    I hope my ideas about the town were not too harsh. I just sensed the inability to accept change.

    May 22, 2003 - 08:49 am
    Hats, I think we're ALL reacting to Susan's skill as a writer. What a sensational job she did of portraying a town of "good" people, adhering to the moral values of their particular culture and time. Why would most of them doubt the reality of witches? Of course they believe in witches! It's something most of them don't question...just as they don't question that the sky is blue, I think we all evaluated that town just as Susan would have wanted?

    The very nature of prejudice is that it seems like a logical and correct value to those who have been raised with vicious or illogical beliefs. I wish we could make faster progress in correcting OUR modern superstitions like racial prejudice, but we're fighting such irrational emotional attitudes in some .people...similar to Aletta's time. What cruelty people can inflict upon each other in the name of their notions of morality and goodness! And these people believe they are doing the "right" thing! How awful!

    Adriaan, writing his papers decades after Aletta's sad death, expressed shock and anger at the attitudes of the town "in this enlightened age." He was smart enough so that he didn't share in the superstitions of the town, but he understood exactly where everyone was coming from. He didn't agree, he hated them for it, but he was a still a member of his culture and understood the cause and effects of Aletta's destiny.

    Remember, he avoided being the only public spectator at Aletta's execution, because that might reveal him as Aletta's lover and the father of her child. Instead he watched secretly from the church tower. He did NOT marry would have endangered HIS future even as it would have protected Aletta from the penalties of giving birth to her illegitimate babies. Marriage might have given her the option of seeking medical aid for the little girl baby and might have engendered some sympathy from the town for the child's problems. Perhaps she might not have smothered the little girl.

    However to his credit, Adriaan was determined to remove his son from the environment of that town. He made a marvelous choice in giving the infant to Saskia who was generous and "asked no questions" when a stranger begged for some milk.

    Many years later, Adriaan reminisced on the terrible tragedy of his lost love and their child and wrote about it in his papers. But Aletta had been dead for at least thirty years by then. Did he ever secretly wonder about how his son was doing during all those years?


    May 23, 2003 - 08:24 am
    I love the way Susan culminates her backward journey in time and goes into the head and heart of the artist and his subject.

    Here is Vermeer in STILL LIFE wracked with guilt as he indulges himself in the creation of another painting. How will he feed his family if he doesn't give up art? But he is obsessed with the beauty of light and color everywhere. How can he NOT paint?

    He needs concentration for every brush stroke...but his children run and scream about him and everyday life goes on while he tries to capture the perfect meaningful moment of his subject on canvas. How can he reconcile his obligation to his family and his obligation to his talent? He needs money! Susan has humanized the artist and his problems and brought him to life.

    I also get the feeling that the meaning of a true work of art is not defined by the artist only. It has an infinite range of emotional variation as people view and react to it according to their own feelings.

    A wonderful story!

    I'm leaving town for the weekend tomorrow. I hope everyone has a happy Memorial Day weekend. See you all later in the week.


    May 24, 2003 - 07:31 am
    In Still Life, I see the care with which Vermeer chooses the subjects for his paintings. His motivation does not seem to be money. He is not in a hurry to splash paint and make the next dollar for his family. He has a another purpose in mind. To me, the purpose is to help the viewer of his paintings appreciate the beauty that they might miss in a daily day.

    "...the Venetian red shutter on that little street, and the intimacy of the figures quietly going about their lives. A girl knelt at the curb, her back to the viewer so that her raw umber skirt ballooned out behind her like an enormous, airy pumpkin..."

    For this reason, I think, his paintings have a spiritual message.

    May 24, 2003 - 08:44 am
    If any of us, and I am sure there are many, have ever experienced the commotion, distraction, noise, and upheaval of having all the grandchildren, parents, grandparents, all gathered together in one small place for a visit, then I am sure we can understand this painter's distraction living day to day with an extended family like his. Much as he loves and cherishes his family, he longs for the peace and quiet of a simple empty room where he can continue with what he loves to do------paint.

    What a unique way to characterize this gifted man! Hats off to Susan!


    May 25, 2003 - 12:23 pm
    Hats, you mention the spiritual------I had a feeling, reading these last two segments that the conflict of the spiritual and the practical seems to dominate the final stories. The practicalities of the artist's life with his problems of money and space to work in, are accompanied by a sense of tenderness, of gratitude for the gift of life. I really admire the way the author has struck a balance between paintings as works of art, and the mundane worlds of their possessors and admirers.


    May 25, 2003 - 01:13 pm
    Lorrie, I felt the same way as I read the stories. I could feel Vermeer's struggle with his passion for painting versus his family obligations. In Still Life, at the end of the story, Susan Vreeland uses the word "sacred" in describing his work. Whenever I think of him, long after this discussion, I will think of the words quiet and sacred. Lorrie, I remember in one of your earlier posts you brought up the word "quietness." As I read each story, the word quiet stayed with me.

    I think Susan Vreeland hopes that Vermeer's paintings will stay with us during our rush through life. If we can only remember to slow down a bit and look around with the eyes of a child. I think Vermeer had the eyes of a child. He strikes me as a man full of wonder.

    Susan Vreeland described Vermeer's feelings so well in Still Life. Vermeer could see beauty in the most ordinary places: a glass of milk, a sewing basket, a woman sewing on a button. I think he wanted to grab life and stop it from moving for a moment and just appreciate it. The only way he could accomplish this was by painting. When he painted a subject, at that moment, he was able to hold life still for awhile. Then, he painted a beautiful Still Life.

    I am rereading my last story. I will never forget this discussion. I will always keep this small book. It will be my reminder from Susan Vreeland that life is always beautiful, and it is beautiful in the most ordinary places and with ordinary people living their daily lives.

    kiwi lady
    May 26, 2003 - 11:11 am
    Hats I agree wholeheartedly with your last statement. I was also thinking that Susan's experience with her illness have probably given her a sense of that wonder about ordinary things. I know my late husband felt the same while he battled cancer and I too appreciate small things and the beauty around me so much more since I nursed him. I have a picture portrait view from my French Windows which I call my living painting. I am on the flight path of the ducks and gulls, I can see the whole sky, horizon and the sea and there are many trees also. Every day I am lost in wonder at my living painting as I watch the ducks fly past or the gulls gliding in the air currents or the yachts racing in the inner harbour. Sunrises are magic! I think I have an artists eye without the talent for my hands!

    It is true all that I have seen of Vermeers paintings give a sense of tranquillity. I think maybe he was one of the few painters who had an inner peace.

    I will try and get back here tomorrow to precis my impressions of the final stories in this book. My daughter is dying to borrow my copy as she is very interested in Art History. She was very good at the subject getting over 90% in her University Entrance Examinations. She will mention the book at her next book club meeting.


    May 26, 2003 - 11:29 am
    Hi Carolyn, I too think Susan's illness gave her great insight. Her words in the book are just magical. I can relate to your husband's illness and Susan's illness. My mother suffered with cancer. During her post operation days, her hospital window became her link to hope once again.

    She had her surgery during the Fall. She always remembered and talked about the beauty of the leaves. All of the colors, to her, seemed brighter and more beautiful during those days of her life. Looking through her window at the autumn leaves gave her the hope to go on living. She knew there was more she wanted to see and feel in this life. Until her death, she told about those days in the hospital. The beauty of that one particular fall spoke to her inner soul.

    Carolyn, I would love to see your ducks and gulls. You do have a "living painting." It is so interesting and enlightening that art can come to us in many different forms as if begging us to appreciate what daily passes us.

    I really enjoyed your post, Carolyn.

    May 26, 2003 - 11:33 am
    Hats, what a lovely sentiment you expressed in your #261. With your permission I would like to repeat it elsewhere on this site.

    And Carolyn, your post reflects the general feeling we all have on how these lovely paintings affected each of the characters in the stories. From now on, everytime I see or hear of a Vermeer painting I will always think of tranquility and, of course, light.


    We have several days left. I wanted to know your impressions of the final character, Magdalena. Some of the book critics think she is actually the most important of all the heroines, what do you think?

    May 26, 2003 - 11:39 am
    Carolyn, I have lost my message three times. I can greatly relate to your post. I do feel that Susan's illness had a lot to do with her understanding of Vermeer's character. Her words, in each chapter, are magical. Like your husband, my mother had cancer too. During her post operation days, she looked out of the hospital window. Her mastecdomy took place during the Fall. She told us the leaves were far more beautiful than ever before in her life. Looking at the colorful leaves each day gave her hope to go on. Autumn, with all of its beauty, spoke to her inner soul and made her want to go on living. She wanted to appreciate future seasons and not take one for granted.

    Carolyn, I would love to see your ducks and gulls. You do have a "living painting." It is so glorious, interesting and enlightening the many ways and forms in which art can come to us.

    Carolyn, I will be anxious to read your post tomorrow. I really enjoyed this one today.

    May 26, 2003 - 11:42 am
    Hi Lorrie, what a kind compliment. You know, whatever you wish to do is fine with me. All of us, I am sure, can feel your gentle spirit during a discussion.

    May 26, 2003 - 12:45 pm
    kiwi lady (Carolyn) ~ your view from your French windows sounds so lovely, it's certainly a view I would spend many hours just taking it all in....especially the sunrises over the water.

    I've often wondered why they hang some of the pictures they do in hospital rooms and nursing homes. When my mom was in the hospital (5 surgeries in all), one time I got permission to change the picture that hung at the foot of her bed to one more pleasant and more to mom's liking. I'd found some lilacs down the hall and she actually brightened up after I changed it.

    I must tell you I'm reading "The Passion of Artemisia" and recommend it highly.

    May 27, 2003 - 07:26 am
    I think in this last story, Magdalena Looking, I realize the gift Vermeer left to his daughter, Magdalena. It is the gift of seeing. Magdalena's eyes seem to drink in everything and everyone around her. She notices the cheese porters in their red hats and white garments. Magdalena thinks to herself "All of it is ordinary to everyone but me, she thought."

    At times, she longs for her father's undivided attention. "Slowly, she came to understand that he looked at her with the same interest he gave to the glass of milk." I feel that Vermeer was a special father. In his unique way, he was giving Magdalena all of his attention, through touching her, seeing her and then, remodeling her face on his canvas. I suppose this explains that love, like art, gives itself in different ways.

    He gave her the gift of how to appreciate simplicity and quietness. Through his paintings, I have come to see that simplicity and quietness equal sacredness.

    In this story, I feel and come to know Magdalena, Vermeer's daughter. I do not come to know all of Magdalena. This is because I think she is a very complex young woman. For me, her deepest desire to learn to paint is the most painful one. When her father is dying, she realizes that there is no one to paint him.

    "While he painted everyone else, no one was there to paint him, to make him remembered. She yearned to do it, but the task was too fearsome. She lacked the skill, and the one to teach her had never offered."

    Still, no matter how much we love someone, we can never love them perfectly. We can never fulfill their every need or desire. I think there must be a void in everyone that is never filled. With all the love Vermeer gave his daughter, he could not fulfill all of her wishes, and he would never know the emptiness she would feel in later years.

    "People who would be that close to her, she thought, a matter of a few arms' lengths, looking, looking, and they would never know her."

    I think this last story by Susan Vreeland is full of human emotions. Human emotions that I do not have the capacity to figure out. Probably, these are the ones I am grappling with in my life. She leaves us with questions and answers that can not be figured out in a day. I think this is what makes Susan Vreeland a great writer. Her writing is thinly layered, like Vermeer's painting, so we can return again and again and uncover a new layer.

    Thank you for being with us Susan Vreeland, and thank you, Lorrie for inviting this author and helping us understand this book.

    May 27, 2003 - 03:41 pm
    EmmaBarb: Your enthusiasm for Vreeland's other book is contagious. I have already put in an order for it, and am looking forward.

    Hats, I think it is absolutely wonderful the way you get all the nuances and hidden meanings in these fascinating stories. For that matter, I think I can say that safely about all the other posters who have come in here.

    Susan's depiction of the women in each story emphasizes how limited their freedom was, and their inability to control their lives and those of their children as we do now. I see a connection between the spiritual and the practical, especially in these last two segments. We are shown the practicalities of the painter worrying about the baker's ongoing bill, the rundown condition of his daughter's clogs, and the prospect of coming, hand extended, for help from his mother-in-law. All this against the wonder he feels at mixing certain colors, and how one brush stroke can make such a difference. And yet through it all, the author never lets us down from a feeling of exuberance, especially at Magdalena' forays to the top of the dyke.


    May 27, 2003 - 05:50 pm
    Lorrie, What can I say. I think you'll be glad you did.

    Traude S
    May 27, 2003 - 05:55 pm
    When I was unable to sit at the computer these past few days I thought about the questions and also about an indelible memory :

    When I was 13, a painter, his wife and little girl moved in next door, and my mother promptly took them under her wing. Times were difficult and commissions few and far between. Margarete Ludwig, a passionate champion of her quiet husband, said something I've never forgotten : "Art is not the bread but the wine of life". The story does not end there, and it is not, alas, a happy ending.

    There is one quality of Vermeer's paintings of which I've been keenly aware : they express and convey serenity, even if the artist had little peace in his life and constant money worries.

    Do we need art ? Oh yes, and in all its forms.

    Back tomorrow.

    May 27, 2003 - 06:50 pm
    Traude, I am so sorry you've been suffering with arthritis again. I know how painful that can be.

    Your post was very intriguing. I'm going to ask the question: What was the not-so-happy ending with your artist neighbor and his wife? You have whetted our curiosity.

    Yes, that feeling of serenity is within all Vermeer's paintings, in my own feeling, and as you say, this is in contrast to the often raucous and hectic family life he endured.


    May 28, 2003 - 08:20 am
    Dear Readers:

    We will be closing down this discussion by Saturday, and in these last few days I would like you all to mention just how much this book meant to you, and how you enjoyed it. Perhaps also in the next few days we can have a final few words from our guest poster, Susan Vreeland, who was so gracious to agree to join us.


    May 28, 2003 - 08:42 am
    This was a wonderful book, and I'm looking forward to reading Susan's other books. The discussion has been one of the best, with great insight into the characters and stories from the posters. And thank you, Lorrie, for doing such a good "leading" job and to whoever suggested the book.

    May 28, 2003 - 12:08 pm
    Lorrie, I agree with Mary Z. Thank you for introducing us to a "wonderful" book. I am looking forward to other books written by Susan Vreeland. I enjoyed and gained from all of the posts. I also would like to thank Susan Vreeland for taking time away from her busy schedule to post comments to our questions. Also, thanks to Gayle who answered our questions too. At times, doing more research.

    Thank you Lorrie for the heading above. These links were a help throughout the reading of The Girl in Hyacinth Blue.

    Traude S
    May 28, 2003 - 11:20 pm
    LORRIE, thank you for your kind words.

    The last two segments are an extraordinary summing-up of this story, and I find it difficult to "let go" of it. There is a lesson for us, and not only about the meaning of art in our lives. I am still lingering over and savoring phrases like these :

    "... she did not yet know that lives end abruptly, that much of living is repetition and separation, that buttons forever need resewing no matter how ferociously one works the thread, that nice things almost happen (pp. 239/240)" ... (emphasis mine). What a perfect articulation of our travails in every walk of life !

    Lorrie, it's late now and I'll sketch the story of the Ludwigs tomorrow, as you requested.

    May 30, 2003 - 12:29 pm
    Traude, we won't close here until we hear the end of your tale about the Ludwigs.

    I received an email from Susan Vreeland, who tells me she has been out of town but will be back tomorrow, and will come in here for a final post. What a gracious lady she is!

    To me, this has been one of the better discussions. I can honestly say that I personally got so much more from reading this book. The characters all came alive, and my impressions of the Holland life style and the Dutch people will remain with me. This author has presented me with a new understanding of art and artists, and I will never see another Vermeer painting without thinking of the serene Girl in Hyacinth Blue, even though she didn't really exist?

    You are a wonderful, thoughtful, and courteous group of readers. It is my hope that we will share another discussion somewhere, all of you.


    May 30, 2003 - 12:58 pm
    Susan Vreeland, Fabulous books. You are indeed a gifted writer. Thank you so much for bringing art and painting into such a bright light. Hurry and write some more books about art

    Some of you may want to check out these websites:

    Art reproductions on canvas from masterpieces.
    Art History Resources

    May 30, 2003 - 01:41 pm
    Lorrie, Thank you for hosting this discussion. Even though I didn't participate much, I really enjoyed the book. I'm not good at looking "under" words or comparing characters. And I'm not familiar with art of any kind. I was impressed by the book enough to suggest it to the book club to which I belong at work. We'll be reading it in July.

    To everyone else, Thank you for revealing to me all that I hadn't seen in the book.

    And to Susan, Your being a part of this discussion has made it unique. What an experience this has been for me!


    May 30, 2003 - 03:50 pm
    Thank you everyone for such a wonderful experience - sharing, learning and fellowship in this discussion - plus the benefits of reading a most thought provoking book by a most talented -artistic author.

    These past few weeks have been taken up by family celebration for our son and his wife. They have recently become the proud parents of 3 children - 2 sisters and a brother - ages 2,3,and 4.

    Shall look forward to 'meeting' you all again - Sue

    May 30, 2003 - 05:46 pm
    I haven't had the time to post often in this discussion but I loved the book and have recommended it to so many of my friends. I have been reading other's postings and have gained a new insight to the book. I'm so glad to have been able to reread it with ya'lls eyes.

    Traude S
    May 30, 2003 - 07:36 pm

    I've tried and failed to find the proverbial nutshell, and I do need to set the scene. But I promise to be as brief as I possibly can.

    You know the beginning. I was 13 and very much affected by and felt sorry for our new neighbors who, having come from a different region of the country, found it difficult to be accepted in our staid community in a lovely suburb of a large industrial city. I knew all about being transplanted : we had moved to that area of the country three years earlier - in the middle of the school year - when my father was transferred there.

    One Sunday we had a gathering at our house to introduce the Ludwigs to my parents' friends, and I was told to take 4-year old Julia for a walk. The day was bitter cold, and the child shivered under her white rabbit fur coat. When she began to cry, we turned around. In order not to openly defy my mother, I took Julia to my room, which was the sensible solution.

    Margarete continued to champion her husband whenever and wherever she could, even chatting up the customers at the green grocer's, at the butcher shop, the baker's and in the dairy shop. I hurried over more often than my mother ever knew and got to know Mrs. Ludwig, as I called her, quite well. They were often hungry, and I felt sorry for pale little Julia. She was blond and had her father's dark searching eyes. I couldn't say why Albert Ludwig made me uncomfortable; perhaps I resented the fact that he never seemed to do anything to advance his own cause but left everything to his more practical wife. They may have quarreled. At times I thought I saw despair in Margarete's eyes.

    Once Margarete's two sisters visited; one of them was a year older; she looked and sounded exactly like Margarete; she held her cigarette the same way. The other was about the age of my sister Louise, around twenty-two, and would be pretty, I thought, if she lost some weight. Albert's parents were rarely mentioned and never came. Margarete called on the political luminaries; Albert tagged along, reluctantly. Commissions were not immediately forthcoming.

    Then my mother asked Albert to paint Louise. Ever tactful, Margarete suggested that he do a pencil drawing (which would be cheaper). And it was done. Louise was cross after each sitting because Albert would not let her talk. When the drawing was finished she stomped her foot and said to my mother, "I'm much prettier than that".

    That was the turning point for the Ludwigs. Albert did several more pencil drawings and then an oil painting. At last there was food on the table and talk about their wanting to find a new home with a larger studio for Albert. On one of her last visits Margarete announced that, in gratitude for my mother's support, Albert would do a pencil drawing of me, gratuitously. And that was done too.

    The room was bare, cold, the light too bright. I did not move. It would never have occurred to me to talk. I was relieved when it was all over. My father liked the drawing, and I was glad.

    We did not see the Ludwigs again after the move, but people began to speak of, and the local paper wrote about "the new artist in our midst". In the fall of that year, we heard in my school in the city that Margarete Ludwig, "wife of the local artist Albert Ludwig," had died and that an official delegation from school would attend the funeral service. Since I lived in the suburb where the burial was to take place, I was automatically one of the delegates.

    As we stood by the open grave, the wind muted the pastor's last words and whirled leaves in our faces. I remember being angry with God. We never learned the cause of death.

    Then war came.

    I don't know what happened to Louise's drawing; she had married and moved away. My drawing was damaged during the bombing of our house and eventually repaired. I brought it with me when we came to these shores. It hangs in my office. When I look at that young face I always wonder why the girl in the drawing looks so sad.

    After the war I returned to the city for a visit and asked about the Ludwigs. He was well known regionally, I was told. He had remarried not long after Margarete's death, for the sake of Julia, people said. His new wife was Margarete's younger sister.


    May 30, 2003 - 09:49 pm
    Traude, what a marvelous story! And so fitting into our discussion. I can see why the memory of the Ludwigs was triggered by the subject of the Girl in Hyacinth Blue. I have heard many heart-rending tales of what life was like in Europe just before World War 2, and often wonder at how so many families and homes were shattered. We were spared all of that, back then.

    Thank you all for your comments about how this book affected you. EmmaBarb, it was interesting especially to see how these tales affected your artist's heart!


    Susan Vreeland
    May 30, 2003 - 10:25 pm
    Oh my, you can't imagine how moving and humbling it is to me to read your thoughts about the last few stories. I so appreciate your thoughtful comments. These should not be called postings, but sharings.

    One person put a question mark after a comment about the narrowness and smugness of the people in Delfzijl. Yes, you got it right.

    If you wish to be on my mailing list to receive a notice of my next book about Emily Carr, the Canadian painter, please go to my website, read about that book in my "Works in Progress" page, then go to "Email" and give me your email address. If you wish to receive a card from the publisher, then I'll have to have your name and mailing address.

    I'm wondering whether any of you had a reaction to Magdalena's last comment, that from her point of view, people will see her in the painting, but will never know her. I hope you see that as the irony of her limited vision, because, as you have shown, you did indeed know her.

    Beste Wensen, Susan Vreeland

    Traude S
    May 31, 2003 - 06:54 am
    LORRIE, our literary journey has almost come to an end, and what a moving experience it has been ! I too would like to express my appreciation to Susan Vreeland for giving so generously of her limited time to answer our questions. We now have a much broader understanding of the quest for beauty through art and how art can, does (and should) enrich our lives.

    LORRIE, my admiration and gratitude goes to you for your steadfast, perceptive guidance in this discussion, another memorable jewel in your crown. My thanks go also to the participants who shared their valuable insights. I hope we'll all meet again.

    May 31, 2003 - 07:18 am
    This has been a magical book. I've just caught up with all the posts while I've been away and they are so perceptive and such a delight to read.

    Susan, thank you for this wonderful book. It's been a joy and a learning experience to look at art, beauty and the creative process through your eyes. Your comments have made this a SPECIAL experience for me.

    Lorrie, thank you for this wonderful discussion. Traude's thoughts expressed my own feelings very well indeed. You are just the best, as are all of the participants who added to my understanding of the book. I've enjoyed the book, the discussion and the author's participation very, very much.


    May 31, 2003 - 08:08 pm
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