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The Golden Tulip
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About the Author

ROSALIND LAKER is the author of several novels, including To Dance with Kings and The Venetian Mask. She lives in England.

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This period piece set in 17th-century Holland, though unabashedly romantic and somewhat predictable, is far from ordinary. Young painter Francesca Visser's absorbing story, displayed against a carefully documented background of Dutch artistic achievement, is mixed with turbulent politics and enriched by memorable portraits of respectable--and dissolute--Dutch burghers. Francesca's father, a debt-ridden and intemperate Amsterdam painter, faces 30 years in prison for an enormous gambling loss. To insure a loan from Ludolf van Deventer, an unscrupulous shipowner, he signs a contract authorizing the marriage of Ludolf and Francesca. Unaware of this binding agreement, the gifted and independent girl moves to Delft for a six-year apprenticeship with Jan Vermeer and falls in love with Pieter van Doorne, a tulip grower and staunch Dutch patriot. Her subsequent difficulties increase as Ludolf proves far more dangerous than first realized. The suspense rarely slackens, for Francesca's spirited younger sisters, Aletta and Sybylla, enter into highly entertaining and surprising romances of their own. Laker's ( Circle of Pearls ) tightly woven novel, swift-moving and filled with lusty characters, is weakened only by a convoluted, lengthy cloak-and-dagger finale. (Oct.)

YA-- Set in the heyday of the great 17th-century Dutch artists, The Golden Tulip is a historical romance fraught with political intrigue. Having studied with her artist father, Francesca Visser plans to become a master painter. Shortly before she begins an art apprenticeship with Jan Vermeer, she discovers that her father, desperate for money to settle his gambling debts, has acquired a wealthy patron with a shady past who demands Francesca as collateral for a loan. Financial assistance from an unexpected source frees her to go to Delft where her relationship with Pieter van Doorne, a tulip grower, blossoms and the traitorous patron's plot during the French invasion is revealed. Despite the length of the novel, devotees of the genre will find it engrossing.-- Carol Clark, R.E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA

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