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Tulip Fever [Paperback]

Deborah Moggach
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.51 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

6 Jan 2000

From the bestselling author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Seventeenth-century Amsterdam - a city in the grip of tulip fever.

Sophia's husband Cornelis is one of the lucky ones grown rich from this exotic new flower.

To celebrate, he commissions a talented young artist to paint him with his beautiful young bride.

But as the portrait grows, so does the passion between Sophia and the painter; and ambitions, desires and dreams breed an intricate deception and a reckless gamble.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (6 Jan 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099288850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099288855
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 42,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The Amsterdam of the early 17th century has been forever immortalised by the serene, precise domestic realism of the canvases of Vermeer and Rembrandt, and has been studied with meticulous care by Simon Schama in his marvellous book The Embarrassment of Riches. What Schama identified at the heart of the opulent display of conspicuous consumption in Dutch still-life painting was an anxiety about wealth and owning commodities. This ran throughout 17th-century life in the Low Countries, an argument beautifully complemented by Ann Pavord's marvellous book on The Tulip.

Deborah Moggach's novel Tulip Fever gives both Schama and Pavord's studies a compelling fictional twist. Set in 1630s Amsterdam, it begins with a typical Renaissance love triangle: a wealthy, elderly merchant Cornelis Sandvoort, his beautiful but frustrated young wife Sophia and the painter who enters their life, Jan van Loos. Commissioned to paint the happy couple's portrait, Jan becomes embroiled in a series of emotional and financial speculations which are to change the character's lives forever. Tulip Fever is a delightfully conceived story which offers a new dimension to what really goes on within the apparently placid domestic interiors of such canvases. --Jerry Brotton (Running time approx 2 hours 20 minutes) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A scintillating story of lust, deception and retribution" (Independent on Sunday)

"A sumptuous and enthralling novel about art, love, illusion and money...with the denouement of a classic" (The Times)

"A story of love, deceit, changelings, and mistaken identity worthy of a Restoration dramatist" (Anna Pavord Daily Mail)

"A byzantine plot that hurtles towards disaster, while retaining the polished veneer of a Dutch interior" (Harpers & Queen)

"Sensuous and masterly...a gorgeous novel" (Mail on Sunday)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Implausible and yet oh-so-predictable 11 Jan 2000
By A Customer
A book begging for a re-write. And some real research. We are told repeatedly that the action takes place in 1636 - as tulip fever reached its peak in the Netherlands. Yet Cornelis manages to worry about the policies of Louis XIV (born in 1638, ascended the throne in 1643, not really in a position to have his own policy until after the death of Mazarin in 1661). The story rattles along, telegraphing its twists chapters in advance, working to a horribly implausible climax, which - apart from one gratuitous and irrelevant quirk - had been guessable one hundred pages in advance. And the key moment of plot development (an inebriated servant asked to undertake a crucial mission) is as unnecessary as it is far-fetched. Nothing would prevent Our Hero from undertaking the mission himself, in the company of a large retinue (and, for a crucial mission, most people wouldn't mind a crowd).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars tulip fever 7 Dec 2010
By karen
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is not very often I read a book a second time but after a lapse I am reading it again with as much interest historically and cliff hangers leading to a cry out aloud "don't go in the pub" DO NOT READ THIS BOOK IF YOU HAVE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO as you will not want, no, will not be able, to put it down. ENJOY
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting historical drama 31 Oct 2003
By Rachel
I recently read this for my local book group, and was surprised at the division the book caused. People either loved it and found it a pleasure to read or hated it. Personally, i found the simple style of writing, the shift in perspectives and the sketching of the characters effective. Others in the group argued differently, that the writing was too simple, and the characters barely two dimensional.
This is not a complex book, and if you prefer thought provoking texts then i would not recommend this to you. If you enjoy a story where you get all the angles from the different characters, and are thus invited to have sympathy with them on an individual level, then this is for you. I would not think it is a man's book as such - the tone of the novel is very much biased towards the main femaile character. When her husband discovers that she is having an affair, he is far more angry at the man she has been sleeping with and there is little if any wrath directed towards his wife, which i found hard to believe. At the heart of the story seems to be the search for Sophia to gain control over her life. One of the most powerful images in the book is when she describes herself as a blackboard covered in the scrawls of others, not one mark her own. The poverty of her youth meant she had to marry a wealthy man of advanced years to help her family. In some ways, she is no less a puppet to van Loos who decides he wants her and wastes no time worrying about any scandal that may envelop her in the process. True, he does love her, but i wonder if it is a love which would have withstood the test of penury. Her final choice is what the book has been building up to - her freedom from the men in her life and the power to choose her own path.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Is that it? 20 Jan 2001
By A Customer
As a few of the other reviewers have already said I believed the hype and bought this book. What a disappointment. I have always believed the cardinal sin of reading was skipping bits, but I don't think I'd be here today if I hadn't skimmed over paragraphs in this turgid book. The narrative is plain boring and the "romance" passionless and unbelievable. I actually made it to the final page and the ending just about reached the heights of a Mills and Boon pot-boiler. Does anyone else feel that reviewers are afraid to say what a book is really like when the general consensus is that only gushing praise will do ?
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tulips, tulips and more tulips! 31 May 2006
This novel I found had an extremely complex plot, yet wonderfully simple to follow. It's an historical narrative set in seventeenth century Holland, yet had all the suspense, thrill, and deceptions of a twentieth century love-triangle. A very atmospheric story told imaginatively and beautifully, in a way that almost makes the reader feel they are sat reading this book in a bed of tulips!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The best book I've read in ages... once I'd started reading I couldn't put the book down. It is so well written, I fealt I'd met all the characters. The plot is exciting and unpredictable and a great insight into Amsterdam life in the 17th century. Unlike many other period novels, this book is very easy to read and so easy to relate to modern times. If I had to make a complaint about the book, it would be that it is too short.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not nearly as good as Girl with a Pearl Earring 22 May 2002
By Christine L HALL OF FAME
I loved Tracey Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring so I figured that another book set in the same time and a similar environment would be a good idea. Although very well written, easy to read (I finished it in a day) and quite capturing at times it really didn't do anything for me. I found most of the characters difficult to empathise with and parts of the book were just unbelievable. I wouldn't really recommend this book to anyone. If you want to read something by Deborah Moggach she's certainly written much better books. If it's historical Dutch stories you're interested, get Girl with a Pearl Earring instead.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Background, Trite Story 21 Dec 2002
By A Customer
In 1630s Amsterdam, fortunes were made and lost speculating on, of all things, tulip bulbs. In fact, comparisons are sometimes made between the Tulip Crash of 1637 and the stock market crash of 1929. Tulip Fever is an interesting book because of its unique and rather exotic setting, but, in the end, it is just another dull and trite story of seedy adultery.
Twenty-four year old Sophia is married to the hard-working, proud and pious sixty-one year old Cornelis Sandvoort. Although she has never really loved him, she does remain grateful to him for rescuing both her and her mother and sisters from a life of devastation and poverty. She thus submits to her husband's nightly advances, not with passion, but with a certain resignation and an air of obligation to provide him with a child. Trouble arrives when Cornelis decides to have Sophia's portrait painted (in a gorgeous Delft blue silk gown) by the young Jan Van Loos, a handsome and dashing artist.
While Sophia and Jan are attempting to sort out their difficulties with Cornelis, Sophia's maid, Maria, also runs into problems. The girlfriend of a fish seller, Willem, Maria now finds herself pregnant, and, of course, alone. Suffice it to say that a little blackmail ensues between the two women and Sophia ends up concocting a daring plan that involves an elaborate deception and wild tulip speculation. If it succeeds, great, but if it doesn't, only catastrophe will follow.
The author does an excellent job of bringing seventeenth century Amsterdam and its citizens to life. Her details are rich, varied and vivid. History abounds in this novel but it never overwhelms it. In fact, I, myself, would have loved to have learned more about the tulip craze and what made people invest so heavily in something as mundane as an ordinary garden bulb.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my kind of book
Not really my kind of book, only purchased as my daughter is an extra in the film version being filmed at the present time. Read more
Published 1 month ago by christine wilkinson
4.0 out of 5 stars Hidden depths
Yes, those reviewers are right when they talk about simple sentences and an 'easy read' – which Tulip Fever is on one level (although a single day's read is pushing it). Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jon Chambers
4.0 out of 5 stars Turns aout to be not my cup of tea
You can never say why, narrative repetitious, subject not as feverish as expected? probably too busy with something and too preoccupied to read properly.
Published 2 months ago by M. Taplin
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
Recommended by a Dutch friend, the book was entertaining and informative. I enjoyed it and would pass on the recommendation.
Published 3 months ago by Mrs Moira H Wilkes
1.0 out of 5 stars awful
Boring, fleeting, insipid love story that is not worth the money or the 20 words this review required. Drinking water from an empty glass would be more gratifying.
Published 3 months ago by vix
2.0 out of 5 stars didn't really love it
Interesting time, but I didn't really believe the characters actions much - all seemed a bit contrived, like a Shakespearean comedy
Published 3 months ago by P J McCormick
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it
fantastic book felt steeped in Holland and the 16th century loved the characters and story line . a little bit of a different love story
Published 4 months ago by P.M.Davison
4.0 out of 5 stars this is very much what men would call "chick lit"
The narrative and style is a little simplistic. Good story line and a quick book to read on holiday but a bit superficial. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Henrietta Thomas
2.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable
I found this story unbelievable and disappointing. I would not recommend it. We read it as a book club read and rated it 5.
Published 4 months ago by Rosemary
5.0 out of 5 stars Go for it!
The author catches the impact of the historical moment in the lives of the various characters. I scarcely out it down once I had begun
Published 5 months ago by PaleWriter
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