Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
(Highbridge Distribution)

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

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


Susan Vreeland is the internationally known author of art-related historical fiction. Her newest, Clara and Mr. Tiffany, as well as three earlier books, are New York Times Best Sellers. Luncheon of the Boating Party reveals Renoir's masterpiece, the personalities involved in its making, and the joie de vivre of late nineteenth century Paris. Life Studies is a collection of stories of Impressionist painters and contemporary people encountering art. Girl in Hyacinth Blue traces an alleged Vermeer painting through the centuries. The Passion of Artemisia illuminates Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi. The Forest Lover follows rebel British Columbia painter Emily Carr in her encounters with native peoples and cultures. What Love Sees is a love story of a blind couple who refuse to accept limitations. Three of these books have been winners of the Theodor Geisel Award, the highest honor given by the San Diego Book Awards. Vreeland's novels have been translated into twenty-six languages, and have frequently been selected as Book Sense Picks. She was a high school English teacher in San Diego for thirty years.

About Susan Vreeland

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SUSAN VREELAND grew up in California and taught high-school English in the San Diego school system for 30 years. She wrote a widely used student-writing handbook titled "What English Teachers Want", as well as two previous novels. Her short fiction has appeard in several literary journals, and she received "Inkwell Magazine's" Grand Prize for Fiction in 1999. She lives in San Diego.
Published March 18, 2012 by RosettaBooks. 196 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Romance. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Girl in Hyacinth Blue

Kirkus Reviews

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Vreeland’s wonderful second outing (What Love Sees, 1996, not seen) is a novel made of stories, each delving farther into the provenance of a Vermeer painting, and each capturing a moment of life, much as the great painter did himself.

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Publishers Weekly

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As Keats describes the scenes and lives frozen in a moment of time on his Grecian urn, so Vreeland layers moments in the lives of eight people profoundly moved and changed by a Vermeer painting—a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

Apr 02 2002 | Read Full Review of Girl in Hyacinth Blue (Highbr...

BC Books

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Before I read Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland and Girl with a Pearl Earring, I knew nothing about the Dutch painter Vermeer.

Oct 05 2004 | Read Full Review of Girl in Hyacinth Blue (Highbr...

BC Books

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It's true, but she also inspires the reader through language, vividly creating the art and bringing new meaning to the old cliché that a picture paints a thousand words.

Oct 17 2004 | Read Full Review of Girl in Hyacinth Blue (Highbr...


Susan Vreeland's Girl in Hyacinth Blue rests on the idea that a work of art may draw a spectrum of responses.

Jan 13 2011 | Read Full Review of Girl in Hyacinth Blue (Highbr...

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Already, we see two understandings of the same painting, and Vreeland takes us further into art appreciation as the painting is variously viewed as the glue holding a family together, a simple spot of brightness during a melancholy flood, a healing balm on a frought father/daughter relationship.

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Gather Books

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Sep 29 2009 | Read Full Review of Girl in Hyacinth Blue (Highbr...

Gather Books

This book is a series of related short stories.

Feb 22 2007 | Read Full Review of Girl in Hyacinth Blue (Highbr...

London Review of Books

The richly coloured solitude of Vermeer’s interiors (and two exteriors) – described by André Malraux as the work of an artist ‘tiring of the anecdote’ and rejecting ‘the myth of narrative action’ – were more to the taste of the novelists who came later, shifting the emphasis of their art from the...

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The Copperfield Review

Not having fully realized the painting in that first story, I wrote another, this time from the point of view of the painted girl dressed in a blue smock, in my mind, Vermeer’s daughter who longed to paint.

Apr 28 2012 | Read Full Review of Girl in Hyacinth Blue (Highbr...

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