The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton – Book Review

miniaturistThis week I finally got my hands on The Miniaturist. I’ve been dying to read it since its release at the start of the month. Here’s what I thought…

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present 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 mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . .

Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

The Miniaturist is an astounding debut, Jessie Burton has worked miracles with her words and I love her for it. Not in a creepy way, just that she’s my new favourite author. That’s what I meant.

It is a masterpiece of well-researched historical fiction, lent the excitement and that ‘could have been’ feeling of being inspired by an authentic cabinet doll-house, in the likeness of the real Petronella Oortman’s family home. Despite this believable historical setting there is an easy identification that has sept into my skin. Enough to make me doubt the necessity of writing this review on a laptop, rather than with quill, and ink, and paper at a desk. Nella Oortman is not a perfect person, but she is a perfectly crafted character, and a wonderful heroine. She was brought to life by Burton’s story-telling for the few days I spent reading The Miniaturist. I have been left believing I’d read tale upon tale about Nella going about her daily, uninteresting business for the rest of her life, if it had been written by Jessie.

I can’t imagine this novel would be everyone’s cup of tea (and it’s clearly not mine, considering I don’t even like tea *gasp*, the horror, this is my hot chocolate). At times I had to put it down to give myself a break, and there are many who prefer a book that can be read in one swift sitting. Nonetheless, I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys a good novel with elements of mystery, suspense, forbidden love, and of course – great character development.

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

I would have liked to find out more about certain things that felt a little too much like untied loose ends, like what happened to the miniaturist, and other characters -especially Toot, and Thea as she grows up in 17th century Amsterdam – but I suppose that’s rather reflective of life. You don’t get to know what happens to everybody, no matter how much you might want to. And this is supposed to be Nella’s story, or part of it at least. Perhaps I’m just nosy, like my mother.

My personal rating: 5/5. Amazon average: 4/5. Goodreads average: 3.92/5.

Buy from: Hive / Amazon / Your Local Indie Book Store ♥
Author on Twitter: @jesskatbee
Publisher: Picador
Date of Publication: 3/07/2014
ISBN: 978144725089001

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