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on 14 February 2017
Tulip Fever tells the tale of Sophia, a young woman in 17th century Amsterdam, married to a much older man. Sophia’s wealthy husband, Cornelis, commissions a young painter, Jan, to paint a portrait of him and his wife. Sophia and Jan develop an intense attraction, which leads to a torrid affair.

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy Tulip Fever. The plot synopsis promised excitement but I found it rather dull. It is a book of less than 300 pages, yet it took me two weeks to read! I did not connect with Sophia and Jan’s relationship, as the author does not explore the attraction between them in any detail. Within a few pages, they are embroiled in a passionate affair, which appears to develop out of very little. The lack of substance behind their relationship left me unsympathetic to their affair and worse, I began to dislike them as characters.

The deceptive plan Sophia and Jan concoct in order to be together was so ludicrous, I almost laughed. It was quite clearly doomed to fail because it was so completely implausible. I found my sympathy directed toward Sophia’s oblivious husband, who genuinely loves his wife, and her beleaguered maid, Maria who has been caught in Sophia and Jan’s web of deceit.

I think the author should have taken more time to expand on the early stages of Sophia and Jan’s relationship. This would have helped to make the reader more sympathetic to their affair and like them better as characters. This novel had great potential but lack of detail and unlikeable protagonists made it a forgettable read.
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on 7 May 2017
Knew the history of it so knew what was coming to dome extent, saw what was coming in story and just had to put it down as I couldn't stand the suspense!
A good read.
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on 18 July 2017
Did not enjoy the story line, or find it particularly well written. The book had been recommended to me too, which probably raised my expectations too high. Sorry.
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on 27 April 2017
a surprisingly gripping read with moral undertones
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on 21 March 2017
Good thriller with interesting twist at the end.
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on 25 August 2015
Boring and repetitive. I couldn't carte less about the main characters.
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on 18 July 2017
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VINE VOICEon 12 May 2014
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). But beware detractors who call it it shallow and predictable, for this is a book that's rather like the Herengracht canal - its mirrored surface hides something underneath. If you are a reader for whom a novel is more than just 'what happens next', then this one is likely to be of interest.

The book's context should alert us to the fact that not everything is as it seems. The setting is C17 Amsterdam, home to the Golden Age of Dutch Art, in other words, where artists and cognoscenti shared a commonly understood vocabulary of image and meaning. So a pet dog, for example, might represent fidelity. And a tulip shedding its petals might stand for the transience of all living things. But just in case we've missed something vital, the quotation which heads the opening chapter advises us to look beyond the obvious: 'Trust not to appearances' - Jakob Cats, Moral Emblems, 1632. Many subsequent chapters are prefaced by quotations from this same instructional and moralising work,

As well as containing 16 colour plates of Dutch masterworks and being steeped in references to art and painting, the book's events are often presented as artworks, while the characters occasionally view themselves and their surroundings as though they were merely oil on canvas. So we as readers are invited to view characters and events in the same aestethic and moral terms. At the end of the novel, for example, the 'dissolute' artist Jan van Loos ('loose'?) is seen strolling through the streets taking a bite from an apple, an action that acquires emblematic and biblical significance here, especially so given that Cornelis has just renounced his faith in God. A reading of the novel which pays attention to such details provides an ironic counterpoint to the narrative.

So not quite the 'easy read' that some imagine. If the twists and turns of Tulip Fever aren't sufficiently rewarding, then the identification and decoding of its images should further enhance your reading pleasure.
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on 13 April 2017
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on 9 September 2013
This book has made me lose faith in the Radio 4 Women's Hour Book review feature.

It is childishly written .It is criminally absent of plot, and the few unoriginal ideas onto which it is tenuously hung wreek of the author having been given a brief to incorporate the paintings at the National Gallery and Kenwood House ( both locations being very close to the authors home ) into a semi coherent narrative on a semi fictional timeline with just enough of a flavour of the Tulip Wars and Dutch oil painting to satisfy a reader who had no previous knowledge of these two revolutionary movements in Northern European history . I dread to be seated beside someone who has read this and tries to engage a fellow dinner party guest in an intelligent conversation about art or tulips ( or anything else for that matter) thinkng that they have some knowledge of these subjects . Pass the gravy please so that I may pour it into my ears . Thank you .

This opportunity to express my real and non biased opinion may be enough of a release for my utter disappointment and resultant anger to stop me from writing to Radio 4 Book Review to complain... bitterly! I feel totally ripped off for the One Penny the book cost me and I feel annoyed at the carbon footprint and postage costs it has incurred . Notwithstanding my precious Time wasted trying to read it and trying to be lenient with the contents after having been initially disgruntled by reading the first chapter..

it is incredulous to think how this terrible and shallow writer got a publishing deal in the first place . The only use for this trash that I can think of is to encourage other would be authors to have another go at a
their own novel ... A more interesting thing to do would be to read the list of contacts this writer must have in the publishing world.

I do recommend any potential reader to take the time to visit the National Gallery and Kenwood House ( when it re opens) and to enjoy the wonderful paintings that are mentioned ( even quoted in great laborious detail) in this collection of typed pages called a 'book' . The paintings open a sublime world of human actions and interactions in the unconscious mind of the contemporary viewer that is timeless and both personal and universal . This book is not even satisfactory . Not good enough to compete with the informative audio guides which are avaliable at the reception desk of the National Gallery which will accompany newcomers to the Gallery whilst they view the sacred paintings hung on the sacred walls.

I should spend ANOTHER penny and use this book in the smallest room in the house and teach my arse to read. Why should I recycle my rubbish when the publishing world continues to fill our world with new rubbish . Yes... I shall double bag my Waitrose shopping from now on , and at One Penny this book is cheaper than Andrex, which is its only positive aspect.

It becomes apparent that the writer has many other publications ( shock !) and perhaps she has improved and grown along her journey ( I hope so ) but I am not going to risk another £2.81 to find out . No doubt her books are in the local libraries which are fast closing down around here, which now comes as no surprise after seeing this utter tosh . I wish I had not read it . I am trying to save you time and money , which would mean that mine had not been spent completely in vain .

Lorraine Cawley . ( London )
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