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"An artful novel in every sense of the word ... deftly evokes 17th-century Amsterdam's vibrant atmosphere."
-- Los Angeles Times
"Need a brief escape into a beautiful and faraway world? Deborah Moggach's wonderful Tulip Fever can offer you that."
-- New York Post
"Taut with suspense and unexpected revelations."
-- Entertainment Weekly
-- The Philadelphia Inquirer
Trust not to appearances.We are eating dinner, my husband and I. A shred of leek is caught in his beard. I watch it move up and down as he chews; it is like an insect caught in the grass. I watch it idly, for I am a young woman and live simply, in the present. I have not yet died and been reborn. I have not yet died a second time--for in the eyes of the world this will be considered a second death. In my end is my beginning; the eel curls round and swallows its own tail. And in the beginning I am still alive, and young, though my husband is old. We lift our wine flutes and drink. Words are etched on my glass: Mankind's hopes are fragile glass and life is therefore also short, a scratched homily through the sinking liquid.
--Jacob Cats, Moral Emblems, 1632
1. What is tulip fever?
2. Tulips, flowers, and petals play a far greater role in the story than as simply a trading commodity. How? Why?
3. "Turn the paintings round and enjoy their beauty, for they shall outlast us all, " writes Cornelis in his final note. How is this ironic?
4. In the 1630s, Amsterdam society was very hierarchical. Why is it that the lower class characters triumph in their goals and happiness? Do they want something so different from what the upper class protagonists want?
5. Jan tells his apprentice that "all painting is deception, " and yet when painting "Naked Woman on a Bed" he tells Sophia that, "this painting will not lie, it will tell the truth." Ultimately which is true? How are the paintings in the book truthful or deceptive?
6. A water motif runs throughout the book. What is its significance? Why do you think the author chose to include it so prominently?
7. Cornelis, so proud and admiring of his city of Amsterdam, is the only one to leave it behind. Why?
8. Which proves more seductive: love or tulips? Which proves more destructive?
9. Religion and belief are present throughout the book. In the end, although all the characters have sinned, one (Sophia) turns to the church and one (Cornelis) turns away from it entirely. Why? Does Sophia make her decision based entirely on self-preservation or is there more to it?
10. Does Maria's belief in superstition suit her and guide her better than the others' practice of organized religion?
11. If, as it seems at its most simplistic, the novel shows us that "the wicked shall be punished, " why do Mariaand Willem end up the way they do?
12. If Willem had confronted Maria rather than joining the Navy, what options might have been open to Sophia and Jan? Did, in essence, Willem cause everyone's downfall?
13. Do you think Sophia and Jan did the right thing in planning to indulge their love rather than their obligations? Could they have been successful if circumstances had been different?
14. How does author seem to feel about parental love versus romantic love? Cornelis is deprived of both kinds -- twice, which impacts him more?
15. Does Maria's belief in superstition suit her and guide her better than the others' practice of organized religion?
16. If, as it seems at its most simplistic, the novel shows us that "the wicked shall be punished, " why do Maria and Willem end up the way they do?
17. If Willem had confronted Maria rather than joining the Navy, what options might have been open to Sophia and Jan? Did, in essence, Willem cause everyone's downfall?
18. Do you think Sophia and Jan did the right thing in planning to indulge their love rather than their obligations? Could they have been successful if circumstances had been different?
19. How does author seem to feel about parental love versus romantic love? Cornelis is deprived of both kinds -- twice. Which impacts him more?
Posted January 4, 2002
After reading this and Girl with a Pearl Earring I am so eager to visit the same canals and pathways these authors so vividly describe in these books. The first four chapters went a little slow for me but then I became immersed in the book from then on and was upset because I had to put it down one evening. Of course I finished it the very next day.
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Posted September 14, 2012
I am finding the works by Deborah Moggach to be original, well written, and of great variety in topics. For those who like historical novels, I would recommend any of her books. This one takes place during the great tulipmania in Holland. It is well worth a look.
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Posted January 28, 2004
This is a great book. Historical characters, mysterious twists, a page turner. I have been to Amsterdam, one of my favorite places, this book just makes it come to life.
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Posted February 23, 2015
Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach follows a young woman named Sophia as she is married to an elderly man, Cornelis, whom she married because her family was poor and needed the money he had. Set in 1630s Amsterdam, this wasn’t something out of the ordinary, but one feels for the character as she doesn’t truly love him, the age difference being significant and she simply wanted to help her family out. Cornelis wants an heir but she, some reason, doesn’t ever get pregnant. Deciding to instead have a painting done of themselves, Cornelis hires a young painter named Jan van Loos. Jan and Sophia become close and create a very elaborate plot in order to escape her marriage with Cornelis and be able to live somewhere where no one could find them. In order to do this, they decide to invest in the tulip business that was like a fever in Holland, everyone going crazy for the flower.
This story was written very well, its plot very elaborate and a lot of twists, leaving you on the edge of your seat. The characters were well developed, and I can’t wait to see Christoph Waltz play Cornelis in the movie that is to come to theaters next year. I just hope he twirls his mustache a bunch again…
I learned a lot about Holland that I didn’t know, and found myself imagining the city very well. Deborah Moggach was very descriptive and I think did a lot of research on the era and on the city. Although the story isn’t true, I found it to be plausible and it made me curious as to who this artist really was. The story reminds me “The Girl with the Pearl Earring”, inspiring a story from a painting, and the relationship of the model and the artist.
The only problem I had was with the shift in characters and sometimes in perspective. Sometimes it is in first-person and other times it is in third-person. It took a while getting used to. I am a person who doesn’t care for adding new perspectives part way through, but I didn’t let it ruin the story. I did not see the ending coming and found that it wrapped up the story nicely.
All in all, I give the novel a 4.5/5, having been a very interesting love story, but the perspectives drawing away from connecting with the character. If you like a historical romance, pick this story up!
Original review posted on A Bibliophile's Reverie
Posted February 22, 2014
Posted April 25, 2012
No text was provided for this review.
Posted October 27, 2008
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Posted February 13, 2010
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