The Golden Tulip
Trade Paperback/556 pages
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"Laker masterfully layers fascinating characters on a sweeping canvas of freedom and self-determination."
The Golden Tulip: A powerful and stirring romantic intrigue in Holland’s Golden Age.
Hendrick Visser trains his daughters, Francesca, Aletta and Sybylla in the studio as soon as they are old enough to hold brush and pen, but only Francesca and Aletta have any interest in becoming artists. Sybylla is more interested in wealthy young men, clothes, money and jewels.
In the wake of his wife Anna’s death in childbirth, Hendrick is bereft, leaving all domestic affairs to Francesca. Only twelve, she takes her mother’s place as head of the household. Hendrick eventually stops drowning his sorrows in ale and gaming at the local tavern and returns to his studio to paint, often with Francesca as his model. It is when Francesca poses as Flora for The Goddess of Spring that Pieter van Doorne, a local tulip grower, sees her for the first time and falls in love. Pieter is not the only man in Amsterdam bewitched by Francesca’s beauty. Ludolf van Deventer buys the painting for a princely sum that funds Francesca’s apprenticeship with Johannes Vermeer in Delft.
When Francesca arrives in Delft, she finds herself a virtual prisoner, chaperoned everywhere she goes and forbidden to see Pieter by Hendrick’s wishes. What she does not know is that Ludolf is behind her father’s strict rules and plans to make Francesca his wife with or without her consent.
The golden period of Dutch art characterized by Rembrandt’s sparks of brilliance and Vermeer’s layers of light is the setting for Rosalind Laker’s The Golden Tulip. While the plot that smacks of melodrama – wealthy and evil man maneuvers irresponsible father into debt in order to marry the beautiful young daughter in love with someone else – The Golden Tulip is a delightful surprise. Laker masterfully layers fascinating characters on a sweeping canvas of freedom and self-determination.
As an artist carefully prepares a canvas, Laker paints subtle details integral to the story, details that carry the characters and the plot inexorably forward. Laker paints a landscape rich with detail and subtlety that stirs the heart and the soul in both minor and major characters. From Hendrick’s irresponsible selfishness and bad judgment, to Pieter and Francesca’s integrity and passion, The Golden Tulip displays Rosalind Laker’s adroit and masterful touch.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell