I'm not much of a fan of short stories. But in this case they don't seem like short stories because all these people are linked by the painting. I read it because we had chosen "Girl with a Pearl Earring" for our book club (being set in the Netherlands) and somebody suggested this would be a good addition. So, some of us read both the books. I'm glad I did. I guess, if you liked "Girl with a Pearl Earring", you will like this one, as well.
Again, the main subject of the novel is a painting, however, in this case the life of the fictitious painting by Vermeer is described, starting with the last owner. A lot of interesting stories, every important timeframe is included and the change of owner is almost every time highly dramatic.
The painting has a different effect on every owner and through this we can understand a painting better.
I loved this book, it shows history in its best form, through the people who lived it.
We discussed this in our book club in December 2001.
From the back cover:
"A professor invites a colleague from the art department to his home to view a painting he has kept secret for decades in Susan Vreeland's powerful historical novel, Girl in Hyacinth Blue. The professor swears it's a Vermeer -- but why exactly has he kept it hidden so long? The reasons unfold in a gripping sequence of stories that trace ownership of the work back to Amsterdam during World War II and still further to the moment of the painting's inception."