The Miniaturist, Tulip Fever and Black Poppy Delight.

You may recall that the proceeds of a random act of kindness (more about that here) went towards the purchase of Us by David Nicholls (thoughts on Us, here) and The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.

The Miniaturist came highly recommended by a friend whose opinion I trust. IMG_5012

It’s an absorbing and compelling read. The historical detail of seventeenth century Amsterdam is fascinating. The characters are fully drawn and likeable. The plot twists and surprises to the very end. Despite all of this, I was a little disappointed. I was left feeling dumb because I just didn’t get the point of the miniaturist in the plot. I thought that the book had a good enough story without the voodoo angle. Maybe I’m just missing something or getting too old for magic. (Photo credit to the Small Girl.)

The Miniaturist reminded me of another book set on the Herengracht, fifty years earlier, which I read in 2000. Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach is a fast-paced fable, warning of the dangers of lust, greed and ambition.IMG_5015

I read it again and loved it again. It’s short and has super-short chapters which shift perspective at a dizzy-ing rate. For pace and suspense, Deborah Moggach could give Dan Brown a run for his money. It includes illustrations by Dutch masters (where Us left me to do my own googling of, bizarrely, the same pictures). If it was possible to plot easy-to-read versus satisfying, this book would surely come out on top. The plot, in some ways, is even more far-fetched than that of The Miniaturist but, to me, it made more sense.

A movie of Tulip Fever is coming soon. A script by Tom Stoppard and a role for Judi Dench bode well. Cressida Bonas, best known as Prince Harry’s Ex, has a part and apparently Harry Styles was offered a role, more here. I am intrigued.

A bit of plant mania took hold here in sultanabunland today when the mystery giant poppy finally opened. My goodness, what an opening! IMG_5006

We went for a walk around Fota Gardens last autumn and I might have stolen a couple of poppy seed-heads (no telling). In March, I found the envelope labelled ‘mystery seeds from Fota’ and I just scattered them willy-nilly around the new perennial border. IMG_5003

I suppose it’s more purple than black but more beautiful for that. It reminds me of the blue roses in The Glass Menagerie. Pleurosis poppy?IMG_5005

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