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Archived Group Reads 2016 > The Black Tulip; week 4

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message 1: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 0 comments What did you think to the ending of the story?

In answer to Christa in week 3 thread:
I too was disappointed with the end, but still I felt the book was worth reading for the first part. It was almost as if Dumas had to finish the book quickly. I discussed this with a friend who also read it and we looked at Dumas' life at the time, and Europe at the time. A lot of dissident and revolutionary happenings and personally, Dumas was declared bankrupt just after the publishing of the book.


message 2: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 0 comments This is my review of the book;

I chose this book as the reviews on it intrigued me.

The story is pegged onto a true event that took place in Holland in the 1600's. I was engrossed in the story. It was funny, informative and a good story. However the ending was disappointing and almost as if Dumas had to finish it quickly. He was declared bankrupt just after it was published so who knows. I believe Dumas was trying to show in the story the madness and cruelty of the 'mob' and the kindness and Christian behaviour of individuals. A story that makes me think that no matter what the 'mob' is doing, that individuals who retain their integrity can make a difference. Dumas also lived in a world gone mad as we do. It is an eternal story, sadly. I feel even the title, The Black Tulip, is referring symbolically to this state of the world, that there is beauty and darkness, God's goodness and corruption, side by side in the world and that each of us has to chose, even on a daily basis, where we stand and which we cleave to. Despite the 'rushed' ending, I gave it 4 stars. I am not sure I would read anything else by this author though, but this one I would recommend.


message 3: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 922 comments I kept at it last evening as I couldn't sleep, and finished the book. The beginning bothered me with the violence and the violence in our world today. Then it got interesting. Yet it shifted once again and got almost cloying. It ended up being very predictable and in some areas almost repetitive. I did enjoy Dumas writing style.


message 4: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 0 comments Deborah wrote: "I kept at it last evening as I couldn't sleep, and finished the book. The beginning bothered me with the violence and the violence in our world today. Then it got interesting. Yet it shifted once a..."
Yes, it sadly was finished in a rush it seemed and Dumas's life at the time may explain why he was in a rush to finish it. It could have been a great book but ended up being only a good book here and there. Life in Dumas's time was no less unstable and hostile than our own even though the means to be hostile have changed somewhat. An eternal story.


message 5: by Paul (new)

Paul Dinger | 76 comments I found the book to be rather obvious in its symbolism and its rush to a happy ending. What is up with William of Orange? At one moment, he is sinister then he is the inexplicable author of it's happy ending. I didn't think the book rushed, although I am under the understanding it is one of the shortest of Dumas' books. However it did for me reach good potboiler status, it was entertaining if not obvious.


message 6: by Alicatte (new)

Alicatte | 17 comments This is why I love Goodreads' groups: I would never have read this book on my own. I discovered it only because of Victorians! I read it, devoured it, had some problems with a few plot points, but, overall, I was as obsessed with completing it as much as CVB & Rosa were with growing their tulip.


message 7: by Tracey (last edited Jul 21, 2016 09:37PM) (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 0 comments Alicatte wrote: "This is why I love Goodreads' groups: I would never have read this book on my own. I discovered it only because of Victorians! I read it, devoured it, had some problems with a few plot points, but,..."

The main reason I love to read and discuss/share with other readers is that it when the human brain engages in constructing images and understanding and even new thoughts from words constructed by and written by another human, maybe of a different time and place, then, and only then, my understanding is opened up to understand others and myself in regards to others. It is the only time we are never alone. We exist alongside other minds and experiences. In many ways, I have nothing in common with Dumas except a questioning human mind and a desire to understand and be understood. From reading this one book I have shared part of my journey with a man of humour, intelligence, weaknesses, responsibilities, pressing life demands and curiosity. And in hundreds of years time, another may make a similar journey if the read the same book.
Who I am and who you are we discover thorough the written word. And from the word, our actions proceed and we learn have to sympathise, empathise and make moral choices.


message 8: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 922 comments Beautifully said


message 9: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1991 comments Mod
Yes, very.


message 10: by Veronique (new)

Veronique Well said Tracey!

Just finished the book and yes I did enjoy it. The end was not the one I envisaged but I believe that is because of the role of the Prince of Orange, going from presecutor to rescuer, was jarring. Also, B dying on the spot was unrealistic. On the other hand, I did like the parallel between beginning and end with the populace in a frenzy, first of hate, then of happiness. Scarily, it is very similar.

The story of Rosa and C, seeing their relationship grow, was lovely and full of humour. I'll keep from this book the brilliant character of Rosa however, full of intelligence and courage.

Ultimately, this did feel like a 'light' read, in the sense that from what I remember Dumas usually wrote much more complex tales full of politics (aristocratic and religious - Cardinal Richelieu had a part in the government) with a big side of romance, focusing on various types of relationships, and adventure (basing this on The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Mousqueteers, and The Man in the Iron Mask). I'd like to read more of his work.


message 11: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1991 comments Mod
My favorite Dumas novel is Queen Margot. It's really just brilliant, centering on Catherine d'Medici and her children. But don't start it unless you have the time to get completely sucked in, and have just finished a meal, because you won't look up again until you hit the last page.


message 12: by Odette (new)

Odette (odman) Alicatte wrote: "This is why I love Goodreads' groups: I would never have read this book on my own. I discovered it only because of Victorians! I read it, devoured it, had some problems with a few plot points, but,..."

I also would not have read rhis book on my own. Even though I did not contribure to the discussion, following it each week made reading so much more enjoyable and meaningful for me.


message 13: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 922 comments Odette wrote: "Alicatte wrote: "This is why I love Goodreads' groups: I would never have read this book on my own. I discovered it only because of Victorians! I read it, devoured it, had some problems with a few ..."

Glad the discussion helped.


message 14: by Veronique (new)

Veronique Renee - you do sell a book really well :0)

Odette - I'm relatively new to group reads and indeed they do help a lot :0)


message 15: by Kerstin, Moderator (new)

Kerstin | 625 comments Mod
Veronique wrote: " B dying on the spot was unrealistic. On the other hand, I did like the parallel between beginning and end with the populace in a frenzy, first of hate, then of happiness. Scarily, it is very similar."

Boxtel dying on the spot is what should have happened to Cornelius at Buytenhoff, but was prevented through an act of mercy. When he drops dead at the moment of "triumph" - or so he believed - is poetic justice.

Overall I liked Dumas's writing style, his humor, wit, and absurdities. What didn't resonate so much with me was the prison setting and the ever-looming capital punishment. Satirizing the tulip craze in Holland could have been done in many other ways.


message 16: by Veronique (new)

Veronique Kerstin - I hadn't seen it that way but your view on Boxtel's demise makes total sense. I guess I was hoping for him to be shown for the nasty person he was and be held responsible in front of everyone


message 17: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 0 comments Renee wrote: "My favorite Dumas novel is Queen Margot. It's really just brilliant, centering on Catherine d'Medici and her children. But don't start it unless you have the time to get completely sucked in, and h..."

Good recommendation. I will add it to my TBR list.


message 18: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 0 comments Thank you everyone for your thoughts. It certainly adds to my understanding to read what is gleaned by others. The parallel between start and finish had not struck me before but it is a nice touch. Also the symbolism of Boxtel dying instead of Cornelius.


message 19: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 922 comments Tracey wrote: "Thank you everyone for your thoughts. It certainly adds to my understanding to read what is gleaned by others. The parallel between start and finish had not struck me before but it is a nice touch...."

And thank you Tracey for leading the discussion


message 20: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 0 comments Deborah wrote: "Tracey wrote: "Thank you everyone for your thoughts. It certainly adds to my understanding to read what is gleaned by others. The parallel between start and finish had not struck me before but it i..."

Thanks Deborah. It was a pleasure.


message 21: by Marie-vicky (last edited Jul 25, 2016 09:55AM) (new)

Marie-vicky (grimace) | 20 comments I finished reading the book yesterday night and reread some parts in the two last chapters that pinched my mind. I was delighted by the simplicity of the love story. It is for me the softest love story that I have read so far. There is no big declaration it is just an example of pure love that is developed with the right ingredients under the right condition.

I think Dumas was able to create a great political allegory that represent well the violence and crime during this period but at the same time he was able to include a symbol of tolerance and justice.

I do agree that his conclusion was kind of shallow in way that readers didn't get any unexpected surprise. the end is like a fairy tales. However I think Dumas let the reader the task of understanding the impact of the act of justice made by the prince
on their community. I cannot imagine a complex conclusion because of the simplicity of the two main characters and the simple way they show their love for each other. I think the power of their love is shown by the symbol of the black tulip.


message 22: by Marie-vicky (new)

Marie-vicky (grimace) | 20 comments Alicatte wrote: "This is why I love Goodreads' groups: I would never have read this book on my own. I discovered it only because of Victorians! I read it, devoured it, had some problems with a few plot points, but,..."

I do agree. Being part of this group has pushed me out of my comfortable reading zone. I am very glad that my attention was drawn to this book. The Black Tulip is great choice for summer reading. My only struggle was to get comfortable with the historical set.


message 23: by Clarissa (new)

Clarissa (clariann) | 535 comments Reading the comments here, is the change in William of Orange's character a reflection of the complexities of human beings (often even the most well written characters have to act 'consistently' to be believed, whereas in real life people often do do unexpected things), or is it because Dumas had to rush an ending because of financial constraints?


message 24: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1991 comments Mod
Interesting question. I think I believe the latter. I would have loved to see Dumas take a few more chapters to develop the character of William more. I think there was plenty of interesting history to work with that could have made for a more layered story. One that made the initial chapters balance more with the rest of the novel.

Still I very much enjoyed Black Tulip for what it is. I loved the sweet romance and the anxious development of the bulbs to fruition.


message 25: by Deborah (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 922 comments Clari wrote: "Reading the comments here, is the change in William of Orange's character a reflection of the complexities of human beings (often even the most well written characters have to act 'consistently' to..."

It felt rushed to me


message 26: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 0 comments Deborah wrote: "Clari wrote: "Reading the comments here, is the change in William of Orange's character a reflection of the complexities of human beings (often even the most well written characters have to act 'co..."

The ending felt rushed to me too and not having read any other Dumas I do not know if this was normal for him or just circumstances. I believe, looking at the time and events he was living in, it was rushed. I believe Dumas was writing his book 'on the move' and trying to avoid bankruptcy which overtook him in the end. A story within a story really...not exactly a happy ending for Dumas so maybe that was why he needed to make Cornelius and Rosa have a happy ending. Dumas I believe was still optimistic in his heart despite how his life turned out.


message 27: by Lily (last edited Sep 07, 2016 07:25PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments I want to thank each of you who participated in this discussion and left a trace of your reactions. Renee has renewed my interest in Queen Margot, or Marguerite de Valois , a book that has been on and off my bookshelves for years without being read.

I really appreciated the historical tidbits some of you provided, including the pictures and related characters like Hugo Grotius, if only for his prison cell, but maybe more, I haven't stopped to consider the analogies/symbolism. It was fun to see all the conditions that drive our reading, or lack thereof, from personal to social to ...

A couple of things I didn't notice discussed: the obvious linkage of Issac/Jacob Boxtel to Judaism (with all the implications towards recurrent stereotypes across differences between groups) or that Van Baerle seems to have been an entirely fictional character created by Dumas for his story, or at least not a godson of Cornelius DeWitte.

With all the other allusions to ancient history and the Cerberus-like cur in the prison, I wondered if Gryphus (the jailer) derived his name as a riff upon "Gryphon." ("In antiquity the gryphon was a symbol of divine power and a guardian of the divine.")

Although Dumas seemed to try to create a sense of scientific accuracy, details like how long did that tulip stays in bloom, what would have been required for future procreation, and that the black tulip was apparently eventually derived from purple toned plants rather than brown, indicated botany was not his forte. (I thank my fellow readers for diverting me from too naive a reading of Dumas! [g])

Like some, I was reminded too much of current political parallels, like the easy creation of mob-like reactions -- even in societies ostensibly at peace among themselves and with strong democratic institutions for administering justice, rather than seceding such to emotional upheaval.

And one final comment here, I was reminded of another strong woman protagonist, the botanist with Dutch ancestry in The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Again, thank you, all.


message 28: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Postscript: The Oxford paperback (1993, 2008) I used had very useful notes and introduction by David Coward.


message 29: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1991 comments Mod
*moves Signature upon her tbr list*
Thanks for the reminder!


message 30: by Lily (last edited Sep 07, 2016 07:43PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments This NYT March, 1986, article on the black tulip may well be of interest:

http://www.nytimes.com/1986/03/20/gar...

Also, these, especially the first:

http://www.amsterdamtulipmuseum.com/e...
http://www.fodors.com/community/europ...


message 31: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1991 comments Mod
"required reading in many Dutch high schools.


message 32: by Veronique (new)

Veronique Renee wrote: "*moves Signature upon her tbr list*
Thanks for the reminder!"


Doing the same :0)


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