On my Bedside Table

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Coffee Trader

by David Liss

Picked this up off the new fiction shelf at the library, um, 'cause I like coffee. And I'd gotten behind in reading fiction, when I'd pledged to read a novel a month.

Really intricate plot on this with lots of crossing and double-crossing. About a Portugese Jewish commodities trader in 17th century Amsterdam and how his fortunes rise and fall (and rise again). Made the stock market sound more interesting than I ever thought it could. It yanks a happy ending out from under you, though. You think everything is going to work out for the protagonist, and it turns out to be a hollow victory. Some wouldn't mind; victory is victory after all, but you just know that the circumstances are going to eat away at our hero and he'll end up hating himself. Left kind of a bitter taste -- a too dark roast perhaps.


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