Book Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

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synopsis

“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…”
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 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.

From Goodreads.com

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rating and review

4/5 ⭐s

I love this book! I don’t know why it took me so long to finally pick it up from my shelf. It was worth it. I’ve heard a lot of people did not like this book and to be perfectly honest, I could understand why. You see, just the prologue itself is already confusing the dear life of me. I could not understand a thing. But I must say that you really have to KEEP READING in order for you to understand. I have to admit though that even understanding wouldn’t actually mean liking the book already, cause there are just mysteries which remained that – a mystery. It probably pull some strings on me that’s why I loved it, even with unanswered questions and all.

This is a historical drama and is set on late 17th century in Amsterdam. This is also quite possibly, one of the few reasons why other readers cannot find themselves to relate to the story. On the contrary though, the author is an amazing story teller. She was able to paint me (as her reader) a vivid picture of the entire world building she made for this book. Even the third person, present tense works for me on this one.

The characters are not really likeable, some probably you will find annoying, but none of them are really hateable. You can always see through their personalities why they chose to act the way they do. Petronella for instance is a very young girl married to an older merchant man she doesn’t know too well, or at all. Her expectations on marriage are traditional for this is what her mother taught her about it. Despite the age, she is expecting to lay with her husband, be a “fully able” woman by having children and so on. I obviously do not belong to their world and a lot of 18 year old girls these days are more concerned on the color of their lipstick than giving birth, but I have heard the tales of older people. Marriage before doesn’t exactly work the way they do these days and I am delighted that the author gave me a rich definition of why this happens. Surprisingly, I like the character of Marin – Nella’s sister in law. She appears tough, but well refined, strong but vulnerable on the inside. This is one character that majority of the people will hate, but if you look deeper on to the character, you’ll end up loving her. Nella’s husband, Johannes is a character in this book that is not consistently present but remains the center of the other characters’ world – for Nella because she wants to finally get close to him, and to Marin because she wants what’s best for the household he is heading of. And we have the household’s servants = Cornelia and Otto which I both love because of the former’s wit and humor and the latter’s loyalty and dedication. And of course, the mysterious miniaturist who Nella cannot decide whether the person is a friend that warns or a devil that does all the tragic they faced.

The mystery in this book that is both haunting and magical is the wedding gift of Johannes to Nella – the cabinet that is a mini replica of their entire house. Which later on would be full of unasked for pieces from the unknown miniaturist. Inasmuch as I would like to dwell on the details about this cabinet, I do not want to spoil you so go ahead and see for yourself what’s creepy and suspenseful about this piece of furniture (which I researched, is quite a luxury during this time). I have actually found out as well that Petronella Oortman is a real woman who owns a real dollhouse and inspired the author of this book.

Dolls’_house_of_Petronella_Oortman
from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petronella_de_la_Court#/media/File:Doll%27s_house_from_Petronella_de_la_Court_1670-1690.jpg

The main reason of why I like this book is probably because of the issues that lies within it’s plot. It involves issues on racism, beliefs on religion, and homosexuality. The author did a pretty well job stitching all these in a story that moreover involves a haunting, mysterious and prophetical miniaturist. There are scenes that took my breath away, creep the hell out of me, made my heart pound like crazy and most of all broke my heart.

So yes, even if it seems like you cannot get into it, try to keep reading and I am positive you will see the meaning of this wonderful story.

Till the next book!

nikki

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

  1. This book has been on my TBR list for a while so I appreciate your review. I’ve been reading murder mysteries and cozy mysteries for do long, I’m trying to read other genres, especially those I would have never considered reading before.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve definitely heard mixed reviews about this one, but the cover and synopsis continue to intrigue me so I might still give this one a shot (: thanks for your in depth review Nikki ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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