Tuesday 25 January 2011

Moggach, Deborah "Tulip Fever"

Moggach, Deborah "Tulip Fever" - 1999

Amsterdam, 1630. Wealthy merchants. Famous painters. Love and Betrayal. Rise and Fall. A lot of subjects in a book that really has only one major topic: Tulips and what it meant to the people of the 17th century in Holland and Flanders. Some bulbs would yield the price of a house in the most expensive quarter of Amsterdam.

One of the novels most book club members really loved, it is very interesting both from the historic point of view as well as the story itself.

I read some other books in addition to this:
"The Tulip" by Anna Pavord 
Both of them gave a big insight into the craze that was a reason for this book.

Nevertheless, I would have enjoyed this novel without the historical background, I liked the way the author described the characters and everything else. I haven't read anything else by Debborah Moggach. Yet.

We discussed this in our international book club in November 2007.

From the back cover: 
"Amsterdam in the 1630's. Sitting for a portrait is Sophia Sandvoort and her elderly husband Cornelis. They are surrounded by objects showing her husband's piety, as well as a tulip. Cornelis has made money from the speculation on this exotic flower and its bulbs. But as the painter, Jan van Loos, starts to capture Sophia on his canvas, so a slow passion begins to burn..."

See more comments on my ThrowbackThursday post in 2022.


  1. Hi Marianne,

    I’m writing on behalf of the BBC World Service’s World Book Club, a monthly programme inviting great authors from around the world to discuss their best known novel with questions from listeners across the globe.

    We’re currently looking for questions from an international audience for Deborah Moggach about Tulip Fever.

    I was interested in this tantalising review, and glad to hear that the book went down well. Although not a recent pick, I thought it would be really interesting to see if you or any of your group had any questions about the book. It would be great to get your input, so do let me know if you, or any of those in your Book Club, are interested in contributing a question or two via email. You can reach me on anne.isger@bbc.co.uk

    Looking forward to hearing from you.


    1. How interesting. That sounds fantastic.

      Yes, it is an older read and since we read it as an international book club, a lot of our members have moved on to other countries in the meantime. However, I can still contact them and will come back to you with anything that might come up.

      I usually write a more detailed description of the meeting with a lot more information than on this page. I just don't want to spoil the book for new readers. I can probably come up with some questions just by going through my notes, if you are interested.

      I will send you my e-mail address in any case.

      Have a good weekend,

  2. Sorry for the delayed reply. That's wonderful - we'd love to have your input on this. I don't think I ever received an email from you, would you mind re-sending?

    Many thanks, and looking forward to hearing from you.


    1. I am so sorry my e-mail didn't arrive. And I was not well the last couple of days. Don't know whether it isn't too late but will send my address again.

      Have a good week,

  3. I read and reviewed Tulip Fever in 2019 and liked it.

    Favorite quotes from Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach include the following ones:

    "Life is short; time is fleeting. Grasp it while you can, said the painter. And for once Cornelis has to agree with him." page 271

    "And love, as we know, is a form of madness." page 116

    "There is no heaven, only a spilled deck of cards. Life is a gamble; it is nothing but a handful of tulip bulbs, a brace of kings. Even the righteous can draw the joker from the pack." page 104

    "His world offers no vocabulary for doubt. He has not admitted it in so many words to himself. All he knows is that loss has weakened rather than reinforced his faith, and the only sure thing to which he can cling lies in his featherbed. " page 22

    1. Great quotes, thanks for that, Lisa.

      It's been so long since I read "Tulip Fever" with my book club but I remember how much I liked the book and the subsequent discussion. And I read so many other books about this phenomenon in the meantime. Such an interesting subject.

      My eldest son lives in Amsterdam and every time we walk through the Grachten, I have to think about the book and that some of those grand houses had been available for the same price as a tulip. Wow.