Book Review #14 Another historical novel about Vermeer….when did Dutch art get sexy?

The Golden Tulip by Rosalind Laker

At Random House, they’ve got free shelves of books and it’s just so easy to go looking for something new to read.  And I can’t help but indulge in unfamiliar authors.  I just keeping hoping that I’ll find something wonderful that I’ve never heard of.  But I think I should  start doing more research when I’m picking up an unknown author.  Like going to the movies and not having seen any of the previews you’d guess based on the title and the rating….chances are that you’d end up seeing something you didn’t really want.  So here I am….stuck posting about a lame historical romance.

The book is set in Holland just before the war with France.  The plot is centered around a family, the father is a well known painter in Amsterdam with a drinking + gambling problem.  Of his three daughters the eldest two are also aspiring painters, and the third  a musician.  Gambling debts, marriage contracts, tulip sales, painting apprenticeships, and French spies are all a part of a plot that the Hallmark Channel should consider turning into a mini-series. (Nothing against those mini-series, I’ve watched my share. I’m not above a little dramatic romance or cheesy plot.)  The book made for pretty good subway reading, and sense I don’t have TV it’s nice reading to wind-down after work.   That said, I’ve got some issues with Rosalind’s book:

1. Dialogue is weak, stale, and flat.  I don’t care what time period you’re writing in, your character’s should be alive in their words.
2.The plot doesn’t pick up till 2/3 of the way through, when it should pick up 1/3 of the way in. (Once it gets going it’s got a good pace)
3. The author’s wrought narrative voice is over wrought.  The vocabulary and sentence structure seems like a stretch for the writer.  Like Rosalind Laker has to put on her 17th century bodice and slippers and whip out her quill to tell us this story.

I took a chance on a historical piece by Rosalind Laker. I knew I wasn’t in for something spectacular, but I’ll admit I was hoping for another Diana Gabeldon. I wanted something a little sexier, a little less stale.  Maybe if I’d seen a preview, I would have known what I was getting into. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all.

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