We are pleased to welcome Marci Jefferson today to The Debutante Ball. Her debut historical, GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN, tells the story of Frances Stuart–the woman who rejected three kings and graced the coin of Britannia forever. Publisher’s Weekly calls it “intoxicating…an exciting, solid debut” in its starred review.
On this week’s topic, books we love, Marci says:
I’m delighted to be a guest at The Debutante Ball, where debut authors are celebrated in style! Releasing a novel is an exciting and sometimes nerve-wracking experience, so being invited on the eve of my own debut, GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN, is an honor. I’ve been asked to share thoughts about a book I wish I’d written …
GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING is a slender little book with great strength. I bought it because I adored the movie. It sat on my shelf, angled face-out with the girl in Johannes Vermeer’s painting of the same name staring out in simple beauty for way too long. When I finally sat to read it, I didn’t rise until I’d devoured every last elegant page.
Griet, a young Protestant, is sent to work as a maid in Vermeer’s Catholic household, where they recognize in one another the same passion for artistic beauty. Set in Delft, Holland, during the late seventeenth-century, it is the Dutch Golden Age, when maritime trade made the country one of the wealthiest in the world. But Griet is from a poor family, and the Vermeer household struggles financially. Relationships between characters are tinged with suppressed tension. Griet and Johannes grow intimate and domestic conflicts ensue. When a wealthy client demands a painting of Griet, she swipes a pearl earing and sits for the now famous portrait. It isn’t a love story, but the story of how a pearl earring changed Griet’s life.
The name of the woman in Vermeer’s portrait is actually unknown. Like a good historical fiction author, Tracy Chevalier took the few known facts of Vermeer’s life and fictionalized the plot. Her skillful, sparse prose and quiet imagery make the details stand out and don’t stop the characters from coming to life fully developed. Her quick writing style still entrances me, and GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING still faces out on my shelf as a shining example of compelling historical fiction.
The late seventeenth century is a period I particularly adore and is when my debut novel GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN is set. Because of this, the books share similar elements such as the Great Plague, the Anglo-Dutch war, the Protestant-Catholic tensions of the day, and breathtaking fashions in jewelry, clothes, and art. In fact, a pearl drop earring similar to Griet’s is also pictured on the cover of GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN.
GIVEAWAY! To celebrate the release of GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN and the splendor of this era, my publicist is giving away one free copy of the book, along with a pair of seventeenth-century-style pearl drop earrings hanging from sterling silver hooks. I hope the lucky winner comes to love this period in history as much as I do.
Comment on this post by noon EST on Friday, February 14th, and you’ll be entered to win Marci’s special giveaway. U.S. addresses only, please. Follow The Debutante Ball on Facebook and Twitter for extra entries—just mention that you did so in your comments. We’ll choose and contact the winner on Friday. Good luck!
About Marci Jefferson: Marci grew up in an Air Force family and so lived in numerous places, including North Carolina, Georgia, and the Philippines. Her passion for history sparked while living in Yorktown, Virginia, where locals still share Revolutionary War tales. She lives in Indiana with her husband and children. This is her first novel. Visit her website at http://marcijefferson.com/.