Friday, November 5, 2010

A Blogger Recommended - Tulip Fever

   Welcome to A Blogger Recommended, a series where I will periodically write about a book I've read based on the review/post of another blogger.

    Today's recommendation  is Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach and I learned about this book on leeswammes' blog.

    The novel is set in 17th Century Amsterdam and is about Sophia, the young wife of an older, prosperous merchant.  The marriage is rather happy, although Sophia has not yet borne any children, and Cornelis - her husband - has decided to immortalize their union by having their portrait painted.  The painter - Jan van Loos - arrives; he and Sophia are initially hostile to each other, but of course that only masked their mutual passion.

     Sophia realizes what she is missing in her life (or what she thinks she is missing) and wants to be with Jan, but she also does not want to hurt her husband.  The lovers - with the cooperation of Sophia's maid, Maria - concoct a plot that not only touches on the tulip fever of the title (immense speculation on tulip bulbs that caused prices to rise dramatically) but which also reminded me a little bit of the first season of Glee.

    As leeswammes mentioned in her review, I too would have liked to read more detail about the Tulip Fever that gripped Amsterdam and the rest of Holland.  I would have expected it to have a larger presence in the novel given the title and I was left unsatisfied with how this part of history was described (*sigh* I guess I'll have to find some more books about the subject to read).  Having said that, though, I've always enjoyed novels that represent "average" life in a past era and this was no exception; the descriptions of the markets and taverns of Amsterdam were very enticing and make me want to visit the city even more to see if I would be able to experience at least a sense of what it was like at that time. 

   Thank you, leeswammes, for introducing me to this novel!


  1. there's a book, and i wish i could remember the title, about different plants that have had a big impact on history- the apple, tobacco, something else, and the tulip- that goes into this in some detail from a nonfiction point of view. i'm sorry i can't remember! maybe the botany of desire? a librarian could probably help you, LOL.

  2. Nice review, Sue. It's so nice that you picked up this book on my recommendation. I hope my review did it justice. I read it during the read-a-thon and my head wasn't too clear when I picked it up.

    I since have found another book about the tulip fever: House of Windjammer by V. A. Richardson. My friend had it and when I told her about Tulip Fever she suggested doing a swap so we could both read a bit more about the topic and about the time.

    Like you, I really enjoyed reading about people in those days.

    I haven't read The House of Windjammer yet, so I can't say what it's like. I was also recommended Tulipomania by Mike Dash. Sounds good!

    The book that Marie mentions sounds like something I've heard of too, but I have no idea about the title, either.

  3. The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan is the other book you're thinking about, about the 4 plants. And yes, Tulipomania is the excellent nonfiction book about the tulip boom and bust in 17th century Holland.

  4. what an interesting premise--haven't heard about this book but do take recommendations from other book bloggers. :)

    'the botany of desire' is a great read, by the way!

  5. Great review! I have read the Botany of Desire and am familiar with the tulip fever in Amsterdam. But I had not come across a novel set during that period. Looks very interesting! Definitely going to check it out! Thanks!

  6. The Botany of Desire has been on my to-read list for a while -- I've read and enjoyed Michael Pollan's other books -- so I'll definitely need to pick it up soon!

    leeswammes, I'm going to look for House of Windjammer as well -- I hope to hear your thoughts on that novel.


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