Whoops - just realised I can't do 3rd after all. I'm guessing 7th would technically be the next bookclub. 10th August fine to, but it will leave only 3 weeks to read the next book. I realise that should not be an issue, but I have found time is in particular short supply these days
Will get the October book club choices up over the weekend if I can. Know we don't have a theme but is helping me formulate thoughts. More time to read works for me. Looking forward to seeing you all in Sept.
Going with a Netherlands theme for October 2015 suggestions:
The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton
There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed ...On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways ...Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall? Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.
On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her splendid new home is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, and leaves Nella alone with his sister, the fearsome Marin.
Nella's life unexpectedly changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish it, she engages the services of a miniaturist?an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie ways.
Johannes's gift helps Nella pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand?and fear?the escalating dangers around them. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation...or the architect of their destruction?
Tulip Fever - Deborah Moggach
The Amsterdam of the early 17th century has been forever immortalised by the serene, precise domestic realism of the canvases of Vermeer and Rembrandt, and has been studied with meticulous care by Simon Schama in his marvellous book The Embarrassment of Riches. What Schama identified at the heart of the opulent display of conspicuous consumption in Dutch still-life painting was an anxiety about wealth and owning commodities. This ran throughout 17th-century life in the Low Countries, an argument beautifully complemented by Ann Pavord's marvellous book on The Tulip.
Deborah Moggach's novel Tulip Fever gives both Schama and Pavord's studies a compelling fictional twist. Set in 1630s Amsterdam, it begins with a typical Renaissance love triangle: a wealthy, elderly merchant Cornelis Sandvoort, his beautiful but frustrated young wife Sophia and the painter who enters their life, Jan van Loos. Commissioned to paint the happy couple's portrait, Jan becomes embroiled in a series of emotional and financial speculations which are to change the character's lives forever. Tulip Fever is a delightfully conceived story which offers a new dimension to what really goes on within the apparently placid domestic interiors of such canvases.
The Girl with a Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier
The Dutch painter Vermeer has remained one of the great enigmas of 17th-century Dutch art. Whilst little is known of his personal life, his extraordinary paintings of natural and domestic life, with their subtle play of light and colour, have come to define the Dutch Golden Age. The mysterious portrait of the anonymous Girl with a Pearl Earring has fascinated art historians for centuries, and it is this magnetic painting that lies at the heart of Tracy Chevalier's second novel of the same title.
Girl with a Pearl Earring centres on Vermeer's prosperous household in Delft in the 1660s. The appointment of the quiet, perceptive heroine of the novel, the servant Griet, gradually throws the household into turmoil as Vermeer and Griet become increasingly intimate, an increasingly tense situation that culminates in her working for Vermeer as his assistant, and ultimately sitting for him as a model. Chevalier deliberately cultivates a limpid, painstakingly observed style in homage to Vermeer, and the complex domestic tensions of the Vermeer household are vividly evoked, from the jealous, vain, young wife to the wise, taciturn mother in law. At times the relationship between servant and master seems a little anachronistic, but Girl with a Pearl Earring does contain a final delicious twist in its tail. Chevalier acknowledges her debt to Simon Schama's classic study of the Dutch Golden Age, The Embarrassment of Riches, and the novel comes hard on the heels of Deborah Moggach's similar tale of domestic intrigue behind the easel of 17th-century Dutch painting, Tulip Fever.