Tracy Chevalier


American Historical Novelist

Author Quotes

He had decided to trust me.

I have consistently loved books that I've read when I've been sick in bed.

It is less distracting in the silence, she said. Sustained silence allows one truly to listen to what is deep inside. We call it waiting in expectation.

That?s how fossil hunting is: It takes over, like a hunger, and nothing else matters but what you find. And even when you find it, you still start looking again the next minute, because there might be something even better waiting.

Yes, well, life is a folly. If you live long enough, nothing is surprising.

He made me feel an idiot, even when I knew he was a bigger one than I.

I have noticed that people do not change which feature they lead with, any more than they change in character.

It seemed to me that the baker had an honest response to the painting. Van Ruijven tried too hard when he looked at paintings, with his honeyed words and studied expressions. He was too aware of having an audience to perform for, whereas the baker merely said what he thought.

The grandeur false if you were not grand yourself.

You know I don?t listen to market gossip, she began, but it is hard not to hear it when my daughter?s name is mentioned.

He saw things in a way that others did not, so that a city I had lived in all my life seemed a different place, so that a woman became beautiful with the light on her face.

I have spent my life waiting for something to happen,? she said. ?And I have come to understand that nothing will. Or it already has, and I blinked during that moment and it's gone. I don't know which is worse ? to have missed it or to know there is nothing to miss.?

It was not a house where secrets could be kept easily.

There followed a time when everything was dull. The things that had meant something lost importance, though they were still there, like bruises on the body that fade to hard lumps under the skin.

Younger women tend to be busier, wearing more layers and more make-up. I don't know if it's because older women are more confident, or just that we don't care any more. But that pared-down approach is the same with the sentences I write; I take out adjectives and adverbs and keep the description to a minimum.

He spoke her name as though he held cinnamon in his mouth.

I heard voices outside our front door - a woman's, bright as polished brass, and a man's, low and dark like the wood of the table I was working on. They were the kind of voices we heard rarely in our house. I could hear rich carpets in their voices, books and pearls and fur.

It's a rare book that wins the battle against drooping eyelids.

There is a difference between Catholic and Protestant attitudes to painting, he explained as he worked, but it is not necessarily as great as you may think. Paintings may serve a spiritual purpose for Catholics, but remember too that Protestants see God everywhere, in everything. By painting everyday things-tables and chairs, bowls and pitchers, soldiers and maids-are they not celebrating God's creation as well?

You're so calm and quiet, you never say. But there are things inside you. I see them sometimes, hiding in your eyes.

He was a collector rather than a hunter, buying his knowledge rather than seeking it with his own eyes and hands. I

I knew I should believe him, as he taught at Oxford, but his answers did not feel complete. It was like having a meal and not getting quite enough to eat.

Jane Austen easily used half a page describing someone else's eyes; she would not appreciate summarizing her reading tastes in ten titles.

There is no need to fear, he said, for you are here with me.

I could not think of anything but his fingers on my neck, his thumb on my lips.

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American Historical Novelist