The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton is a historical novel set in 17th century Amsterdam. The obsession with wealth and acquiring more desirable objects is the societal influences that the story navigates around. However, the characters involved are just as intriguing as all of the glamour that surrounds them.
“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 life 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's gift helps Nella 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, beautifully written, and exquisitely suspenseful, is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.” – The Miniaturist
The Miniaturist is a book that I really enjoyed reading. It is a historical novel that shows how the obsession with having more material wealth continues today, and that isn’t necessarily such a good thing. The characters are all interesting, even ones that I didn’t really like. I wanted to know what was going to happen next, and what would become of all those involved. It is definitely a good book to read over a weekend!
At only eighteen years old, Petronella moves to Amsterdam into the arranged marriage she had with Johannes. Not an ideal situation, but she had no real choice in the matter. Her new husband is not at all what she had imagined, and the people in this new city are not as friendly as she had hoped for. The one nice thing he did for her though was to give her a wedding present of a miniature version of their home. However, it isn’t furnished, so she finds a miniaturist to help re-create the furnishings in the home for it. When these new furnishings come, they are amazing – but then, new pieces not similar to ones in the home start to arrive, and strikingly accurate copies seem to magically appear in the home. Who is this miniaturist, and what does all of this mean? No spoilers here!
Overall, I think that this is an excellent debut book from an author to keep an eye out for in the future. I highly recommend it.
* Thank you to the publisher of The Miniaturist, Ecco, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.