I have another review for you all today. This time it’s “The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton.
I was quite dubious about this book to begin with as I’d heard that it was over-hyped and the Goodreads score wasn’t that excellent, but reading the blurb and watching the BBC-adaptation I knew the book seemed up my street.
I was right.
I absolutely sped through this book. I think I finished it in 2 days. My morning commute was made a lot more bearable knowing that I could devour this book on the train.
“The Miniaturist” is set in 17th-century Amsterdam and follows the story of Nella, an eighteen old girl sent from her rural hometown to marry Johannes Brandt, a much older merchant. She has come to begin a new life in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam with her new husband, but is instead met by his sharp-tongued sister Marin.
Though Johannes is largely absent, he does present Nella with a huge dolls house for her to furnish and enjoy; an exact replica of the house she now lives in. Nella locates a miniaturist to help her fill the house whose creations unnerve Nella as they begin to mirror her real life.
The book is filled with secrets, magic and romance. As Nella begins to uncover the mysteries of the Brandt household and how to navigate Amsterdam society, her relationship with the miniaturist changes and the group go on a journey of twists and turns together.
I absolutely love historical fiction and “The Miniaturist” really satisifed that craving for me. The setting was beautiful; I felt I had gone back in time to a world that Jessie Burton had created (not to mention, the book cover is absolutely beautiful!) I really felt like Amsterdam was a character in itself; a city reliant on the sugar trade, built on secrets, with a precarious tension between wealth and religion.
“The first day of the year is a day for Amsterdammers to throw open their windows in a brave ritual of letting in the cold air, dislodging cobwebs and bad memories”
I really enjoyed following Nella’s journey from a shy, unsure girl from a rural town to a confident and strong-willed woman of a large house in Amsterdam. I loved the relationship between Nella and Cornelia; it was so heart-warming and seemed, at certain times, to be the one thing that Nella relied on to get her through the struggles of living in Amsterdam.
“She has always thought that kindness was an active thing. But the not doing of something, an act of restraint — could that be kindness too?”
I will say that I would have liked more on the miniaturist. I feel like that part of the storyline kind of fizzled out towards the end and I was expecting it to be much more fantastical and mysterious than it ended up.
“Everything Man sees he takes for a toy.
Thus is he always, forever a boy.”
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I love that it looked at issues such as racism, feminism, homosexuality, religion, and wealth through a historic perspective; this is something I always find interesting. Couple that with elements of magic, fantasy and mystery and it’s near-enough the perfect book for me!
“Every woman is the architect of her own fortune.”
Have you read “The Miniaturist”? What did you think? If you have any more historical fiction recommendations for me, then let me know!
Thanks for reading!
Love Zoe xx