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Tulip Fever Paperback – April 10, 2001
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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
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Because this novel is plot led, it is easy to get the story simply by reading three words on every page. Read morePublished 9 hours ago by Pauline Butcher Bird
Tulip Fever is an absolutely engrossing book. Deborah Moggach doesn't simply weave a fascinating tale but does so in a manner that also piqued my curiosity about the time period. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Earl
How sheltered women were in the 1600's. Sophia was married off to an elderly wealthy merchant it was a financial deal not a love match. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Nelda Brangwin
You'll quickly see where, perhaps, Jessie Burton got her inspiration for The Miniaturist. Tulip Fever is a clever story, meted out in carefully crafted voices, set in a period of... Read morePublished 2 months ago by D M ORourke
TULIP FEVER is a finely imagined, thoroughly researched international bestseller by the London-based Deborah Moggach, a well-known British TV writer and prolific novelist who also... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Stephanie De Pue
Oue book group really enjoyed this book. Lots of twists and character changes. Colorful language and based on
an event in history.
Too reminiscent of other works written of this period in history.Published 8 months ago by carol k.
I originally read this book about fifteen years ago and loved it ! Heard it was being made into a movie this year with Judi Dench and Kevin McKidd so decided to reread it. Read morePublished 8 months ago by MarianneM. Visser
A Great historical read..very tantalizing. Hated for it to end.Published 9 months ago by DR.ELLSWORTH LEVINE