Sunday, July 29, 2007

Deborah Moggach's "Tulip Fever"

Deborah Moggach is the author of 16 novels and two collections of short stories as well as, most recently, an adaptation of the Diary of Anne Frank for the BBC.

She applied the "Page 99 Test" to her bestselling novel Tulip Fever and reported the following:
I've just opened my copy of Tulip Fever at page 99 and find, to my fascination, that it's a pivotal moment in the novel -- in fact, the pivotal moment. Sophia, the heroine, has fallen in love with the young painter who has painted a portrait of herself and her elderly husband. They plan to run away together. She has also discovered that her maid Maria is pregnant -- Maria has been carrying on with the local fish-seller Willem. This is the moment when Sophia has the great idea of pretending that it is she who is pregnant. She will die in childbirth -- feigning her death, of course -- and thus be set free.

Maria stares at me, her eyes as round as platters. All day she has been dozy but now she's wide awake. We are in the parlour. Above her hands a canvas of a slaughtered hare; it is my least favourite painting in the house. Hooked up by its bleeding hing leg, the hare hangs upside down. Its eye, glazed by death, rests on us with indifference as I tell her my plan.

Maria claps her hand to her mouth. "But madam - but you can't"

"I can, but what about you?'...

That moment between the two young women, the slaughtered animal presaging the horrible tragedy to come ... it's the hinge of the plot. How fortuitous that it was on page 99! But then that might be the secret of your website....
Visit Deborah Moggach's website and read more about Tulip Fever.

--Marshal Zeringue