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Read It Before You Screen It: Tulip Fever

This is a monthly piece about the books behind upcoming feature films. Each spoiler-free book review will be posted a month before the movie’s US release date, giving readers plenty of time to dive into the story before it hits theaters.

Nearly two decades after its first publication, Deborah Moggach’s exploration of Amsterdam in the 1600s is finally making its way to the big screen. Tulip Fever focuses on Sophia, a young housewife whose small world is blown apart when her husband commissions Jan van Loos, a promising young painter, for a family portrait. While the rest of Amsterdam loses its collective mind over tulips, Sophia and Jan enter into a dangerous world of desire. Eventually, everyone in the Sandvoort household is pulled into the resulting chaos.

Moggach is a master of imagery. Amsterdam comes alive through her words- transporting readers 400 years backwards into the height of Dutch Tulip Mania. Every room in the house, every street in the city, and every person in the story is described in detail. Additionally, some of the most momentous scenes in the book happen in taverns or basements. There are also multiple story lines at play throughout the chapters. That all adds up to a wonderful and immersive story for readers, but it could make a movie adaptation tricky.

Luckily for viewers, Tulip Fever the movie is directed by Justin Chadwick. His previous work on films like The Other Boleyn Girl shows that he’s up to the challenge of a historical piece, and able to deliver a beautiful and graceful film. The hardest challenge he may face is capturing the Tulip Fever atmosphere itself. Sophia never directly interacts with the business so it is only described in brief passages. Nonetheless, the rise and fall of the tulip market affect her every move. If Chadwick can capture that, it could spell greatness for the movie.

Tulip Fever the book is available in hardback, paperback, e-book, and audiobook formats, and you can find it at your local library or wherever books are sold. It’s an addictive read, so be prepared to have trouble putting it down once you’ve picked up your copy.

Tulip Fever the movie stars Alicia Vikander, Cara Delevingne, Christoph Waltz, and Dan DeHaan. It is currently unrated by the MPAA. It releases in the US and Canada on February 24, 2017, with later release dates for European countries.

(For those who can’t wait until next month, March’s Read It Before You Screen It book is Wilson by Daniel Clowes. The upcoming comedy starring Woody Harrelson will hit US theaters on March 24, 2017.)

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Katie Anderson

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Katie Anderson is good with the term nerd. When not running disability services for FanFest events, she lives in Atlanta, GA and plays a lot of video games. Her work has most recently appeared in Forbidden Future: A Time Travel Anthology. If you’d rather read more but in a shorter format, her Twitter handle is @kdidd.