Book Review || The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton


Although having never visited Amsterdam before, this novel beautifully describes the grandeur of seventeenth century architecture, the wide sweeping canals and the great contrast between the rich and poor. However, this book is about none of these things.

The marriage between Nella and Johannes is far more of an arrangement than for love – in desperation and clinging to the threads of their family status, Nella’s mother sends her from a simple and desolate life in the country, to the midst of a grand house filled with secrets. Johannes is distant and unexpected, though strangely gruff and confusing. His spinster sister Marin is waspish and terrifying, verging on malicious. Otto, a former slave, brings to light the contrast in centuries as Nella doesn’t quite know what to make of his dark skin. Then there’s the most curious of them all, the miniaturist.

Placated with a wedding gift in the form of a diminutive replica of the grand house in which they reside, Nella initially finds entertainment in ordering miniature furniture to fill it. However, the elusive and puzzling craftsman continues to send objects that weren’t always requested, paving an unusual path and predicting events that are yet to happen. Amongst twists enveloped in love, death and a fondness for sugar, the story rampages through the plot confidently with such lovely descriptions and just the right amount of suspense. There are some slight errors from a character perspective that remain unconvincing and the mysteries surrounding almost every main character aren’t solved as dramatically or mystically as I’d have liked (especially the miniaturist’s- for the title’s namesake I was expecting slightly more), but overall it was a very readable novel that did indeed live up to the hype it received.

Rating: 8/10

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