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By Deborah Moggach
288 pages; Dial Press

Sex, art, flowers: It's the 1630s in Amsterdam in Tulip Fever, and everybody is obsessed with at least one of the three. In the film version of Deborah Moggach's 1999 novel, opening August 25, the center of attention is Sophia (Alicia Vikander), who's a devoted wife to her aged merchant husband—until the introduction of the brooding artist hired to paint their portrait. Moggach's novel delivers plenty of hot-and-heavy lust and betrayal, but she's also done her homework on a remarkable moment in Dutch history, masterfully weaving in observations about religion and economics, delivered in prose as elegant as a Vermeer: "She is color, waiting to be mixed; a painting, ready to be brushed into life. She is a moment, waiting to be fixed forever under a shiny varnish."