The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Everything man sees he takes for a toy.


Title - The Miniaturist 
Author - Jessie Burton 
Publisher - Picador (Pan Macmillan)
Publication Date - July 3rd 2014
Format - Kindle Edition

The blurb

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office - leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin. 

But Nella's world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist - an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways...

Johannes' gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand and fear the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate of that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation... or the architect of their destruction? 

Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist, is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth. 

Becca's thoughts

Firstly, thank you to the publishers Pan Macmillan for accepting me for a copy of The Miniaturist via Net Galley. The cover both enchanted and intrigued me, and I was just dying to begin reading so I could see what the doll-house on the cover had to do with the story within. I guess I'm just a doll-house kinda' girl and whilst I was scrolling through Net Galley, Jessie's cover immediately caught my attention, and when it comes to adding another book to your to-read pile, how can you resist? 

So, after reading the blurb and eyeing the cover continuously, I was very excited when I finally got around to reading it. I settled down in my cupcake pyjamas with a hot cup of tea beside me and opened up my Kindle with a flourish, thinking to myself, "This is going to be one of those books that I am going to absolutely love." Besides my adoration for chick lit and romance, I do have a "thing" for the weird and wonderful, for the strange and the mystifying, and I think I imagined how the book was going to play out in my head before actually reading it. In my mind, it was about a doll-house, and in that doll-house were the dolls of the characters that played roles in Nella's real life, but for whatever reason, probably because I still have the imagination of a five year old child, I thought that Nella (the main character) was going to be able to control those real life people by moving the dolls that were within the doll-house. Unfortunately for me, this wasn't quite what The Miniaturist was about, although it did involve dolls, eerie happenings and a house built within a cabinet with tiny rooms and accessories that made me open my eyes with wonderment. 

The Miniaturist is set way back in time, beginning right from the year of 1686, when Nella has just arrived at her new husband's home, in Amsterdam. The author, Jessie Burton, did an incredible job of bringing the streets of Nella's new home to life. Jessie's descriptions were beautiful and vivid, allowing me to visualise Nella's new home perfectly in my mind. I think my favourite moments, although I did enjoy many, was whenever Nella headed into The Kalverstraat, a heaving market street in Amsterdam. I loved these scenes so much. Jessie brought every sense to life; sight, smell, taste... I felt like I was there with Nella, pushing through the busy crowds. 

Although Petronella was Jessie's main character, there were a number of other characters who definitely took on major roles in this novel. When Nella moves into the Brandt household, she is suddenly surrounded by strangers, but I suppose the fact that she is going to be their mistress from now on eases her worries maybe just a tiny bit. There are a couple of characters to take into consideration. Johannes being the main one, I suppose, seeing as he is Nella's husband, but Joahnnes is nowhere to be seen when she arrives. Marin is Johannes' sister, who is stern and straight-faced. Marin also seemed as if she was completely in charge of the household, making orders and keeping a keen eye on their funds. There is also Cornelia who is a maid, and then Otto, who works around the Brandt home. What I loved was that each of these characters were fantastically developed, all of them holding secrets of their own and harbouring dark and dangerous pasts. The Brandt household was silent and bustling all at once, a place where I would have loved to be but been terrified of its dark corners and shadows. It was a grand home, with expensive rugs and furnishings, and I think in one way Nella couldn't believe where she had ended up, but there was just something in Jessie's writing that made me think that Nella missed home a lot. The characters really brought the novel to life. I was curious about each of them, and remained curious about them even as the story progressed. Jessie dropped so many hints and nudges into the writing of the story, and I found myself constantly trying to solve the clues and riddles, trying to solve the mystery of their lives. Trust me when I say this readers; the characters in The Miniaturist are not at all what they seem. 

There were a few times whilst reading where I did begin to wonder if the story was really going to take off. I felt it was building up, more and more, and that a huge explosion was going to happen within the plot. But the longer I waited and the more that I read made, nothing especially major happened and I guess I was left feeling a little deflated. Don't get me wrong, there were twists and turns the entire way through, but I just feel like it was maybe missing something, you know when you feel like that? 

It definitely kept me in suspense, and it also had me trying to read between the lines, trying to figure out where the plot was intending to go. Of course, as a reader, there are times when you can't determine this. One minute I thought one thing was going to happen, and the next, the plot turned a corner and I was thrown off the trail once more. It held a great deal of mystery to the pages, and the whole cabinet-sized miniature of the Brandt household had me wondering even more. 

If you enjoy historical fiction and suspense, then yes, this would be a fantastic choice of read for you. I really did enjoy the settings and the characters, but I just felt as if the plot itself was missing just a little extra oomph. It surprised me and creeped me out equally, the kind of creeped out that makes shivers run up and down your spine. 

Becca's Books is rating The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton with four cupcakes! Mainly for Jessie's gorgeous descriptions and intricate characters, and for the sheer amount of intrigue and curiosity that she drew from me with her words. 


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2 comments :

  1. I am waiting for this book to arrive from Amazon. God I hope I am not underwhelmed now, I was feeling very positive about it. Luckily the new Caitlin Moran book arrived first, so screw you Jessie Burton/Amazon *binge reads*.

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  2. Haha, I still feel a bit iffy about it! You will have to let me know what you think once you've read it, share your thoughts with me :) I felt positive about it too, but I think I had already imagined how the story was going to play out before I even started! Hah!

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