Genre: Art Historical Fiction, Romance
Source: Received from Arleigh @ Historical-Fiction.com to help her out with her reviews
Francesca’s father is a well-known painter in the bustling port city of Amsterdam; he is also a gambler. Though their household is in economic chaos, thankfully the lessons she learned in his studio have prepared her to study with Johannes Vermeer, the master of Delft.
When she arrives to begin her apprenticeship, Francesca is stunned to find rules, written in her father’s hand, insisting that she give up the freedoms she once enjoyed at home- including her friendship with Pieter van Doorne, a tulip merchant. Unaware of a terrible bargain her father has made against her future, Francesca pursues her growing affection for Pieter even as she learns to paint like Vermeer, in layers of light. As her talent blooms, “tulip mania” sweeps the land, and fortunes are being made on a single bulb. What seems like a boon for Pieter instead reveals the extent of the betrayal of Francesca’s father. And as the two learn the true nature of the obstacles in their path, a patron of Francesca’s father determines to do anything in his power to ensure she stays within the limits that have been set for her.
The Golden Tulip brings one of the most exciting periods of Dutch history alive, creating a page-turning novel that is as vivid and unforgettable as a Vermeer painting
This amazing novel has many different story threads woven together beautifully. At the heart is the story of Francesca and her family. Francesca is the daughter of a decent artist in Amsterdam. Taking after her father, she appears to be headed toward great things in the art world. An apprenticeship is acquired for her with the relatively unknown (at the time) Johannes Vermeer in Delft. Things all seem to be looking up – Francesca has an apprenticeship, her family appears to be doing well (her father has a wealthy patron), and she finds herself falling in love with Pieter (a tulip grower and landscape designer). Just when things appear to go well, all starts to fall apart. The patron of her father has become obsessed with Francesca and is determined to marry her – no matter what the cost! How do these problems affect Francesca’s art? How will her family fare? What will happen to the blossoming love between Francesca and Pieter?
My favorite part about this novel was the way the characters were written. I truly felt for the characters. I would be excited when good things happened and very upset when horrible things happened. Each character felt so real – they all had their flaws and personalities and didn’t feel typical. One of my favorite characters was a minor character – Catherina Vermeer, Johannes Vermeer’s wife. She was so good to Francesca and I just loved her personality.
It is very obvious that a lot of research went into this book. Tulip-mania was explained in relative depth – this was when the price of a single tulip bulb climbed to as high as a year’s salary, everyone wanted them, and then the market crashed and people were left penniless. There were also great descriptions of the cities of Amsterdam and Delft. Vermeer’s paintings were discussed – what the meaning are behind some of the works and symbols, stories about the sittings as well as physical descriptions.
I really loved this book – it had so many little stories happening with this family and was very intriguing. I cannot wait to get to read The Venetian Mask which is on my shelf right now.
Need some visual stimulation? You can check out my photo post of some of the Vermeer work that was described in the book.
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