Girl reading by Katie Ward is a collection of short stories that interweave women, books and art in various ways. It is called a novel, but why they do that eludes me – at least right now. So far I have read two stories and found them quite good, but not too overwhelmingly so, to be honest.
In general, I found the way of not putting direct speech in quotation marks rather confusing. At first I had no clue that someone was talking and then when I realized that that was so I didn’t know who it was. Sometimes the spoken sentence even started in the middle of a line, and without quotation marks I found this hard to follow. Later on my brain must have partially adjusted itself to this, because I didn’t seem to have so many problems with it anymore.
The first story is about an orphan in 14th century Siena who gets to sit for a famous painter for an altar piece. What I found most interesting was the painter’s progressive attitude towards the different religions. I can’t imagine that his opinions were very popular and that his clients would have been very happy to know about them. The girl’s approach to art (what you see is what you get) reminded me a lot of myself. I like or dislike a painting without looking for some deep symbolism or trying to analyse every little detail.
The second story about a deaf maid in a Dutch painter’s household reminded me A LOT of Girl with a Pearl Earring. With a jealous wife, the relationship between maid and painter, a snooping child, careless parents (did anyone else find the choking incident rather odd?), I found the whole atmosphere in the household quite disturbing. I very much liked the maid though, a strong and tough woman indeed.
More to come in a few days, I am a slow reader.
Want to know what others thought of this book? Have a look at:
- Read, what Caroline is thinking about Girl Reading.
- Judith told me she has given up the book, she is not a big lover of short stories. Too bad, as I was really looking forward to her thoughts on the book.