“But the question of how Cornelius’s father obtained the painting, he deftly avoided. I did not know him well enough to press further without being pushy. Not knowing this which he so carefully kept private, I could not believe it to be genuine. I finished the brandy and extricated myself, politely enough, thinking, so what if it is isn’t a Vermeer? The painting’s exquisite. Let the fellow enjoy it.”
At the opening of the novel, Cornelius, a college professor has a secret. It’s a secret he’s never shared with anyone outside of his own family. Finally, he decides to trust a colleague and shows him into a special room inside his house where his treasure lies. His secret treasure is a painting so valuable and rare – it’s a Vermeer. How the painting came to be in Cornelius’s possession is the plot of the book, each chapter taking us back into time to walk alongside the Vermeer masterpiece and hear it’s story.
I was impressed with Vreeland’s superb research and storytelling talents. This was a wonderful book that is not only an excellent work of historical fiction, but also presents an intriguing mystery that makes for an enjoyable read.
4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 1999