Journal entries
Le Bon Journal

Buy at
Tulip Fever
by Deborah Moggach
pb 259 pages
ISBN 0099288850
Vintage UK Random House
Buy at

Bon Journal

Tulip Fever

My neighbour in London lent me this book, which she has yet to read. It's a story of love, deceit, greed, betrayal, and surprise.

From the start, you know the marriage is doomed. A wealthy old widower Cornelis engages the services of a local painter Jan to do a portrait of himself and his beloved young wife Sophia. In those days, portraits are done for vanity and immortality sake.

Not surprisingly, couped up Sophia falls for Jan and starts to see him secretly. The book's chapters are titled by names of its characters, with only Sophia written in the first person. The reason for such chapter identification is for the reader to see the world through the eyes of the character.

Sophia's maid Maria is deeply in love with a young fisherman named Willem. Quite simple minded, she pines and sings of her love which takes her through the tenuous day of unending housechores. What keeps her going is her dream of one day marrying him and having a family together. What else could two people in love dream otherwise?

Sophia hides in Maria's outfit to visit Jan. One day, Willem accidentally spots who he thinks is Maria, secretly follows the disguised Sophia to Jan's place and mistakenly concludes that Maria is seeing someone else. In his confusion, he loses everything and decides to leave the country. How easy it is to jump into conclusions!

The story is full of twists and turns. Like a soap opera interwoven with many historical facts and artifacts, it tempts the reader to keep going. "Tulip Fever" is simultaneously the mania that gripped 17th-century Amsterdam and the adulterous love that raged Sophia and Jan. For tulip or love, the fever is fueled by greed, fear of missing out, and loss of sense of reality.

After a long absence, Willem returns from the navy, a stronger and better person. He has fought and seen the world. But he still can't forget Maria. His aching heart leads him to her home.

What happens to the love triangle of Cornelis, Sophia, and Jan after the portrait is finished? Take a wild guess. Otherwise, read the book.

15 May 2004 Saturday

Related links & entries:
analyticalQ book reviews


I discovered that I can view Chinese characters on the MacIntosh! So happy to read e-mails from my aunt in Kung Kuan, Taiwan. Here's a touching story entitled "a date with another woman."
"Go on," said his wife. "I know you love her. Go out with her then."
Such a beginning makes you want to continue - especially coming from my aunt.
A man starts to visit his ageing mother and his wife encourages it. They had so much to talk about that they didn't make it to the movie afterwards. Before they could go on their next date, his mother died. But she knew she was going to die - for she left a note for him at the restaurant.
She wrote: "I've paid the bill for our next date which I won't be able to make. It's a dinner for two so be sure to invite your lovely wife."


Like this entry?
Your comments to editor:
Your e-mail address:
Tell your friends about this Bon Journal entry:
Your name:
Your e-mail address:
Your friend(s): Be sure this field is filled and correct!
 (please separate additional addresses with commas)
Your message:

Anne Ku at Ilp in May 2001
Anne Ku

writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.
Support the Bon Journal by keeping alive and free. Find out about Sponsorship.