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Cambridge University Library



7PM to 8PM

Format: Hosted online using Zoom Meetings.

Tickets: Free, booking required. Open to everyone to attend.

Accessibility: Live subtitles are available using Zoom's Live Transcript function.

Book your free ticket here

The Really Popular Book Club is Cambridge University Libraries' book group. Everyone is welcome to come and discuss a really popular book with the group, library staff, and an expert on the novel. Hosted on Zoom, the book club is completely free and open to everyone, people attend from all over the world. 

The Really Popular Book Club celebrates the huge range of books at Cambridge University Library. We have more than 8 million books and as a legal deposit library we keep a copy of every book published in the UK, and have done since 1710.

It’s 17th-century Delft and in the house of Vermeer, a young maid attracts the painter’s attention. Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier is a story of an artist’s desire for beauty and the ultimate corruption of innocence.

To discuss the novel with us, we’ll be joined by special guest Dr Lizzie Marx, Curator of Dutch and Flemish Art at the National Gallery of Ireland. She has worked on various exhibition projects at The Mauritshuis, The Fitzwilliam Museum and Cambridge University Library. Lizzie is the Co-Curator of Turning Heads: Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer (2024), and Curator of Vermeer Visits (2024).  

To aide the conversation, we have prepared three 'thinking points' to consider when reading Girl with a Pearl Earring:

1.    How far does Girl with a Pearl Earring give a sense of 17th-century Delft?

2.    The book’s protagonist Griet comes to work for the privileged Vermeer household as their maid. How does Chevalier illustrate the social dynamics between the characters?

3.    Vermeer probably never intended for the identity of the sitter in Girl with a Pearl Earring to be known, but Chevalier bases the book on her. How does art influence writing? And how does Chavalier’s book impact how we see Vermeer’s art?

If you haven't attended one of our book club events before, you can find out more at

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier is available in paperback, hardback, audio and ebook formats, borrowable from public libraries or to purchase. To see what printed and digital copies are available from Cambridge University Libraries (borrowable by University staff and students), search iDiscover.