Picture of Author Susan Vreeland


An extensive interview and additional discussion topics are available on Penguin Author Interview and Reading Guide .

1. What does Girl in Hyacinth Blue suggest about the value (personal and monetary) and function/purpose of art?

2. How does art serve us? Why do we need it?

3. Do you feel the author is focusing more on the role of art or the nature of life?

4. This painting seems to have a different effect on each of the owners. Why?

5. How does the painting function for each character? Who loves it the most?

6. Why would the author structure the novel in reverse chronology? What are the advantages/disadvantages of telling the story this way?

7. Discuss the range and significance of the last line.

8. In the end, does it matter whether or not the painting is a Vermeer? To whom does it matter and to whom is it irrelevant, and what does this say about their characters?

9. What actually happened to the painting? Does it matter that the final outcome is not shown on scene?

10. What does the book have to say about the joys and difficulties of being an artist?

11. How does the character of women and girls change through the centuries?

12. In what way does the girl in the painting reflect Hannah and Magdalena's natures?

13. In what way are Hannah and Magdalena similar? In what way are Hannah and Anne Frank similar--and different?

14. Where does the novel touch on the tragic? the triumphant?

15. Is it a novel?