Intrigue in Amsterdam Nov 2, 2008
I just finished reading this the second time around and it was just as good as the first time I read it three years ago. There’s a lot to like – intrigue, risk, and a charming protagonist running a tightrope between ruin and riches. Miguel Lienzo is a man trying to make his way in the world. As a Portuguese Jew he’s a bit of an outsider in Amsterdam’s merchant community. It’s the 1600’s, the era that gave birth to financial and commodities markets as we know them, and morality in these new markets is clear as mud.
Miguel is a player. He’s just suffered some significant losses in a deal gone bad and needs to reestablish his reputation and financial standing. Enter Geertruid, Miguel’s flirty new Dutch friend, with an exciting idea to get rich trading a new commodity called coffee. This newly discovered fruit from the East has an amazing effect on the intellect unlike anything else they’ve ever experienced, and it just might be the next big thing in Europe. If Miguel can avoid the censure of his faith’s oppressive ruling body, the Ma’amad, and skip through hoops with creditors long enough to manipulate the market in his most ambitious endeavor yet, he and Geertruid will be wildly rich. The tale of speculators in financial markets resonates well in today’s world, and Amsterdam society makes an interesting backdrop for Miguel’s personal tale.