The Miniaturist- Jessie Burton
An Autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at the grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations ring eerily true.
As Nella uncovers the secrets of her new household she realises the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands- but does she plan to save or destroy them?
One of the first books I read this year was ‘The Muse’ by Jessie Burton, and I automatically fell in love with her writing style. I think after just that one book I considered her a writing idol, and that has not changed after the second. In ‘The Muse’ she created a beautiful fusion of two strangers lives (set years apart), while also taking us on a journey and solving a mystery. In some ways ‘The Miniaturist’ does the same things. Though we stay in one time throughout, she still manages to blend so many different lives into one story, one world where you may not see them belonging together. This book is also full of mystery and secrets, and honestly, it wasn’t easy to solve the mysteries of her stories in either book (even the maid is in the dark in this one!). You really are brought on a journey with your protagonists.
As stated already, we do stay in one time and place throughout this book, though many other places are mentioned. It is set in 1686, Amsterdam, and to be very honest, its a time and place I would have known nothing about, so if any of her facts were wrong, I most likely wouldn’t have picked up on them. However, you get the sense it was very thoroughly researched, from the use of language to the actual presentation of the places and characters. She also adds a little glossary of Dutch words at the back, and gives a breakdown of costs of items at the time, as money is a big theme in this book so it was good to be given an idea of how it worked at the time.
It’s rare to read book and have no dull characters, but I really believe every character in this book had a very specific purpose. Nella wasn’t a constantly likeable character, but as I said at the beginning, you are brought on a journey. She starts out a very naive girl, who thinks of life and marriage only as she has been taught by her mother. It is a while before she really comes into her own, but she discovers a lot about her new family, herself and that the way of the world is not always black and white.
I don’t want to give any spoilers, because there really is a tone of secrets in this book and I wouldn’t want to ruin any of them. But I would really recommend this book, if you are interested in historical fiction at all this is a definite read. Also, if you are a writer, it’s full of really great techniques so I’d also recommend it for that too!
5* for sure.