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Tulip Fever Paperback – April 10, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; First Edition edition (April 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385334923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385334921
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #411,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Deborah Moggach's Tulip Fever takes place in 17th-century Amsterdam, where roguish Rembrandt wannabes like Jan van Loos are just waiting to fall into ticklish situations. In this case, a paunchy merchant named Cornelis Sandvoort wanders into the artist's studio, hoping to impress posterity with a portrait of himself and his young wife. Apart from the fat commission, which van Loos can use, there is the bride to consider. Beautiful and bored, Sophia is easily swayed by his youthful passion--but this time, the raffish van Loos actually falls in love with one of his sexual conquests. The two carry out their affair with increasing doses of rashness and deception, meanwhile becoming dependent on the complicity of a servant, the astonishing gullibility of the old man, and the fast cash to be made on the tulip-bulb exchange.

The plot of Moggach's 13th novel neatly matches the speculative frenzy of the period, careening from one improbable thrill to the next. It was, to be sure, a time of stunning economic lunacy, when a single Semper Augustus bulb could be sold for "six fine horses, three oxheads of wine, a dozen sheep, two dozen silver goblets and a seascape by Esaias van de Velde." The author expertly dabs in this sort of period detail, and her chapter epigraphs quote some charming 17th-century Dutch sources on morals and conventional wisdom. Indeed, it's these quasi-surreal touches--whales washing up on the coast, chimney pots toppling into the street, women rubbing goose fat into their hands--that make the lovers' overheated sentiments so plausible. "For centuries to come," the narrator says, "people will gaze at these paintings and wonder what is about to happen." Tulip Fever gives us the chance to do exactly that. --John Ponyicsanyi --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Although Moggach, a well-known TV writer and prolific novelist in her native Britain, has published here before, this book, a bestseller at home last year, is the one that is likely to be her breakout on this side of the water. It is yet another story set in 17th-century Holland involving a real-life artist, Jan van Loos. But whereas such books as Susan Vreeland's Girl in Hyacinth Blue and Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring concentrate on an artist's work, this is a headlong romantic drama that uses the painting of a portrait simply as a jumping-off point. Van Loos comes to paint Sophia, the pretty young wife of wealthy burger Cornelius Sandvoort, which starts a train of events that will irredeemably change all their lives. Sophia and the artist fall hopelessly in love; the Sandvoorts' servant, Maria, is having a child by a man who, thinking himself betrayed by her, has run off and joined the navy; meanwhile, Cornelius has always longed for a child. Out of these circumstances, the infatuated couple formulate a plot, but one that depends on getting together a great deal of money in a short time; hence, the frenzied speculation in the value of new and rare breeds of tulip that gives the book its title. Moggach puts all this together in a series of brief, breathless chaptersApacking in skillfully presented facts, atmosphere and colorAeach told from a different point of view: even the hapless drunk who brings the whole scheme crashing down around Jan's and Sophia's ears is given his moment in the limelight, and the figure of the elderly, cuckolded lover is for once sympathetically drawn. The Amsterdam of the period is brought almost physically alive, and a wistful postlude looks back at all the romantic anguish from a serene distance. This is popular fiction created at a high pitch of craft and rapid readability. Movie rights sold to Steven Spielberg. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The characters are okay, but sometimes too simplistic.
A. T. A. Oliveira
Overall a very good read, well written characters that you simultaneously love and hate.
Courtney Birst
I highly recommend this book as it is an interesting and quick read.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By kanga on July 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The reviews are mixed about this book, and for good reason. It is probably one that you will either love or hate.
The story is told through the voices of the characters in turn, which can be a bit disjointed to start with when you are trying to get all the personalities sorted out in your mind. But the dizzying effect also adds to the sense of climax that is reached when all the threads of the story come together.
The historical detail is interesting and adds to the flavour of the story, but it is the characters that keep you reading.
Although the ending was never going to be happy and was not entirely unpredictable, there are unexpected twists and resolutions which keep your interest to the last page.
If you like historical fiction, if you like a love story, and can tolerate an ending you would not have chosen for the characters, then you will enjoy Tulip Fever.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Dianna Setterfield on August 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
I absolutely loved this book. Tulip Fever was a vivid and engrossing read that had me turning pages into the wee hours of the morning. And while some feel this novel is only a Harlequin Romance in disguise, I truly believe it is much, much more than that. The 1630s Amsterdam background lends rich definition to the characters and story line and makes Tulip Fever a highly readable, thrilling book.
Wealthy merchant, Cornelis Sandvoort, and his young wife, Sophia, have a good marriage. Sophia is ever grateful to Cornelis for saving her family from destitution, while Cornelis feels Sophia has given him another chance at life after the death of his first wife and two sons. But with there being 40 years of age between them, Sophia feels, no matter how grateful she is, that she has traded one life of imprisonment for another. The couple is childless despite Sophia's dutifulness, and in the hopes of achieving some sort of immortality, Cornelis has commissioned young, passionate artist Jan van Loos to paint their portrait.
During their sittings, something transpires between Jan and Sophia. Their love for each other becomes frantic, like another form of life support. Desperate to be together, Jan and Sophia concoct a devious plan. Lies, lust, greed and the dizzying passion of the tulip craze create an intoxicating and dangerous mix. What ensues after is the devastating windfall of their deception and selfishness.
Very intense and fast once the love affair begins. Each chapter is narrated by a different character so readers are treated to the minds of all involved. I believe Deborah Moggach has written a solid, deftly written piece of fiction. Although there are bits of Harlequin-ness, the historical references; allusions to actual Dutch paintings; sharply defined characters; and lush, vivid backdrop surely make up for it. An exceptional and sensuous feast for the mind.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I find Kirkus reviews to be the most reliable, but they certainly have missed here. Far from being "pallid," the book is full of passion and suspense (the NY Times said it "reads like a thriller"); and the plot that is called "outlandish" is based on an idea that has historical precedent. I was totally engrossed in this book, as were my wife and a friend. We all agreed that the clichés "page turner" and "couldn't put it down" were true in this case. The scene with the "onion" is unforgettable and the depiction of tulip speculation is revelatory. Don't allow the Kirkus sourpuss to keep you away from a novel that is both entertaining and educational.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By D. Zonderland on December 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In this lovely little book Amsterdam's Golden Age comes alive with its fools, drunks, painters, moralists, Calvinists, and capitalists.
The period and place are very well and engagingly described as backdrop to the story of an impetuous and impecunious painter and an unawakened, beautiful burgher's wife. Several Tulipomania legends are interwoven, including the famous one of a man who inadvertently consumed a fortune (though in the legend it's a sailor who hasn't been in Holland for several years).
This novel is a charming, fast read, consisting of short chapters that are written from different characters' perspectives. Through this device, their personalities are quickly but deftly drawn (the priggish painter's apprentice, the slightly smug neighbour's wife, the callow but sharp-eyed maid). The only problem is that the main protagonists also remain perhaps a bit too faintly and impressionistically sketched, rather than being portrayed with more verisimilitude, in a more highly detailed way -- which would be more stylistically and chronologically consistent with the style of portraiture prevalent at the time in Holland.
The final denouement should not have come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Amsterdam's history and geography, but the writer drew me into the story so well that the earlier hints were superseded by the red herrings and other fish that Moggach merrily layed out along her paths and canals of misdirection.
The "illustrations" to the book -- major period works, many of mistress and maid scenes -- are a wonderful addition, as are the almost throwaway lines about the later life of and scholarship about the works of the fictitious painter Jan van Loos. Altogether, a very enjoyable, entertaining book, even if the protagonists are not the most compelling thing about it.
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