Cornelius Engelbrecht invented himself. Let me emphasize, straight away, that he isn't what I would call a friend, but I know him enough to say that he did purposely design himself: single, modest dresser in receding colors, mathematics teacher, sponsor of the chess club, mild mannered acquaintance to all rather than a friend to any, a person anxious to become invisible. However, that exterior blandness masked a burning center, and for some reason that became clear to me only later, Cornelius Engelbrecht revealed to me the secret obsession that lay beneath his orderly, controlled design.
Teaser (from Page 83, trade paperback edition):
And her headdress! She thought it clever to suggest her family's contributions to Dutch naval history by building a ship, a man-of-war I think it was, atop horizontal rows of cadogan curls - no one wore cadogan curls anymore - as if the vessel were bravely battling those ferocious blond waves. On its stern she flew a tiny flag.
(In case you're curious, I did a Google search for "cadogan curls" and found this: "...the ladies adopted the "cadogan," an English style, similar to the wigs worn by the men. The hair was still powdered, but it was bunched out at the side and braided or curled, and looped up at the back.")
Genre: Literature / Historical
Book Length: 196 Pages
Amazon Link: Girl in Hyacinth Blue
Author Website: Susan Vreeland
This luminous story begins in the present day, when a professor invites a colleague to his home to see a painting that he has kept secret for decades. The professor swears it is a Vermeer—but why has he hidden this important work for so long? The reasons unfold in a series of events that trace the ownership of the painting back to World War II and Amsterdam, and still further back to the moment of the work's inspiration. As the painting moves through each owner's hands, what was long hidden quietly surfaces, illuminating poignant moments in multiple lives. Susan Vreeland's characters remind us, through their love of this mysterious painting, how beauty transforms and why we reach for it, what lasts and what in our lives is singular and unforgettable.
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