The Coffee Trader

by David Liss

I read this for my bookclub.  I would admit that if this were just a contemprary “financial fiction” I would have aborted the reading long time ago. However, with the historical background of Portuguese Jews in the 17th century, this becomes a much more interesting read; and while some of us felt that the business maneuvour is above our heads, the historical backdrop keeps us going.  The plot itself is quite brilliant, one layer of deception upon another, and until the last page, you don’t quite know who has the upper hand.

According to the author notes, this book was originally about chocolate.  While I can image Miguel’s sister-in-law becomes more lustful after munching some cacao beans, I don’t suppose Miguel can claim his energy and clear-mindedness from something other than a cup of joe.

A big part of our discussion centers on whether Miguel is a good or bad guy.  In that aspect, the author excels in portraying all characters in a very three dimensional manner.  Each is full of life and stands out with his/her own personality.  The book is rich in all the senses: the smell of the city, the colorful clothes of the merchants, the buzzing of the exchange, and together with the characters, recreates a very solid world of 17th century Amsterdam.

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Published in: on August 17, 2007 at 4:08 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I also enjoyed this book. Liss’s other books are also very good. Try A Conspiracy of Paper next


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