By Tracy Chevalier
I've come to love the visual arts. Whenever I travel, I visit the museums. I found this fictionalized account of a servant in painter Johannes Vermeer's household fascinating, especially in how it explores the power, not of the artist but of the subject of a painting. The sitter, a young maid, is the person we all have our eyes on, and even though the painter is pulling the strings—determining the pose and costume and composition—her humanity is undeniable. It's so strong, in fact, that the writer was able to create a whole story about this unknown girl.