The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist

by Jessie Burton

Overview: Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam—a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion—a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant.

”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.

Faith Bowers (03/20/15): I thought the book was a fast read, it took about 150 pages of setting up the stage and for there to be any action. Then the action came barreling out of the story. The author is an actress and it seems as though it was written almost like a script. It was very good for a first book but I felt that the focus was misdirected. We learn almost nothing about the title character, much of the foreshadowing is after the fact and the true story is totally neglected in the writing. The protagonist, Nella Oortman becomes an independent woman after less than a year of newly arriving to seventeenth century Amsterdam.

I read it based on the recommendation from the Women's Book Review and though I learned much about 17th Century Amsterdam it would not go on my recommended reading list.
Rating: **

Laura Hall (11/21/14): This proved to be a venture out of my normal reading, which Is always good for a reader! It is set in the late 1600s in Amsterdam where a woman is given a dollhouse replica of her own estate in which she has just married in to. Her husband hopes for it to give her something to do and comfort her since he is never home…. But where is he and what is he doing is the question which will lead to many events, none of which you would expect! Also the sister of this husband as well as the 2 workers in the house have their own secrets, but who seems to know each of their secrets and predict their future could possibly help weave the tapestry together, or tear it apart!
Rating: ****

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