The Golden Tulip

Written by Rosalind Laker
Review by Troy Reed

Love is in full bloom in this Laker reprint, set against the rich backdrop of 17th-century Holland. Francesca Visser is a talented young artist who longs to become a Master Painter and guild member. Her father, Hendrik Visser, also a painter, is plagued with gambling and drinking problems. Hendrik loses a vast amount of money in a high stakes card game and sees no other choice but to take a loan from Ludolf van Deventer, a ship owner and patron with a shady past. In return for the loan, Hendrik signs a contract authorizing the marriage of Francesca and Ludolf. Francesca is unaware of her impending marriage to Ludolf, a man whom she instinctively distrusts.

Francesca leaves Amsterdam to begin her apprenticeship with the artist Jan Vermeer in Delft. Upon arrival at the boardinghouse, she is presented with a list of strict, uncompromising rules written her in father’s hand. Francesca can not fathom her father’s reasoning since the rules forbid most of the freedoms she enjoyed at home. During her apprenticeship, Francesca falls in love with Pieter van Doorne, a tulip grower whom she had met in Amsterdam. As the relationship between Pieter and Francesca develops, Ludolf shows his true colors and dangerous nature.

Laker provides absorbing detail of both daily life in Holland and the developing political situation of the time. The lives of Francesca’s two younger sisters are woven into the story, producing a rich tapestry filled with family, romance, and light suspense. The story unfolds at a leisurely pace, allowing the reader to savor the details yet anxiously turn the page to find out what happens next. With its mix of history, politics, and painting, this is a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying read.