Saturday, July 28, 2007

7:30 a.m.

This summer I have had a very strange obsession with the movie Girl with a Pearl Earring (I swear it has nothing to do with the utterly sexy combo of Colin Firth and Scarlet Johannson). A couple weeks ago I looked around for a hardcover of the book, since I always try to buy books I know I'll keep forever in hardback. I found one on eBay, bought it, and read it as soon as I got in the mail. At the end of the book concluded that I really liked it, but I couldn't quite place my finger on why. The writing style seemed almost too simple and straightforward, but there was something subtle about it.

A couple days ago I started reading it again, more slowly, to try to figure out exactly what was so appealing about the writing style. Last night, it came to me. This book doesn't spell things out for you. Having watched the movie again since reading the book, I have a new respect for the screenplay. While much of the plot was changed, the mood and the style of telling have stayed almost exactly the same, a feat rare in many book-to-movie endeavors.

Take this line for example. It may not be that interesting, but it's what made me realize what was so appealing about the writing style.

She was tasting the roasted pheasant. "Not bad," she murmured. "I can hold my head as high as any cook of van Ruijeven's."
While she was upstairs I had based at the pheasant and sprinkled it with salt, which Tanneke used too sparingly.
Like I said, it's very subtle. The main character rarely comes out and says exactly what she's thinking of other people, but that doesn't mean that the reader is left in the dark of her opinions. Her phrasing is careful, and gives the sense of the emotion instead of any direct knowledge. It makes the book beautiful, just as it makes the movie.

Off to finish my breakfast now. Years on Internet forums have made me loathe to use the phrase "making pancakes," but that is what I'm currently doing.

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