In the seventeenth century, Amsterdam is a prosperous city known for it's trade, cleanliness and tolerance. Cornelis is a 61 year old man of wealth with a beautiful young wife, Sophia, living in the best city in the world. He is a vain man and wants to immortalize himself and the beauty of Sophia on canvas. Jan is the painter he hires who falls in love with Sophia at first sight. Although Sophia feels gratitude towards Cornelis, she has no passion for the old man. Jan stirs in her feelings she's never had. Jan and Sophia carry on a reckless affair, taking risks that could ruin theirs and the lives of others.
Moggach writes every scene like she wants us to imagine a painting. We see the characters posed, the room filled with props. It is a still life, like the Dutch paintings in the book. For example,
"She stands there, motionless. She is suspended, caught between past and present. She is colour waiting to be mixed; a painting, ready to be brushed into life. She is a moment, waiting to be fixed for ever under a shiny varnish. Is this the moment of decision?"
Moggach had an interesting way of writing Tulip Fever. Each chapter is written from the point of view of a different character. Sophia is the only character in first person. It was a little strange but I got used to it. It is very rich and descriptive, but it's a quick read. The book flows well and there are a few twists at the end.
All in all, not a bad little book.