Set at the height of the "tulipomania" that gripped Holland in 17th century, this is the story of Cornelius van Baerle, a humble grower whose sole desire is to grow the perfect specimen of the tulip negra. When his godfather is murdered, Cornelius finds himself caught up in the deadly politics of the time, imprisoned and facing a death sentence. His jailor's daughter Rosa, holds both the key to his survival and his chance to produce the ultimate tulip.
Alexandre Dumas (1824-95) was a pioneer of the Romantic theatre in France, for which he wrote a series of colourful historical dramas, although it is as a novelist that he is best known today. His works include The Three Musketeers (1844-5), La Reine Margot (1845) and The Count of Monte Cristo (1844-5). Robin Buss is a journalist and translator. For Penguin, his translations include works by Sartre, Zola and, most recently, The Plague by Camus.