Saturday, February 18, 2006

The House of Tavelinck

by Jo Van Ammers-Kuller

This is a book I found in the discard bin at the library whose title sounded interesting despite its blank cover. It's a historical fiction originally written in Dutch but published in English in 1938 about a Dutch aristocratic family during the time and events surrounding the French Revolution. It follows particularly one member of the family, Dirk Tavelinck, from his life of luxury as a son of one of the powerful Burgomasters of Amsterdam, through his family's fall from power and the politcial vissitudes of Holland and France.

It is quite long (over 700 pages) but worth a read if you like historical fiction (I do) though it paints an unflattering picture of the Dutch people who vacilate between leaders and factions without any political backbone. Though Dirk is firm in his political convictions his treatment of women is less admirable--he hops from bed to bed, enjoying each pretty face he comes across. I waited for insight, maturity, change, enlightenment, growth but found him as shallow at fifteen as a fifty, 700 pages later. But if nothing else, the book is pleasant for its interpretation of European 18th century history.