On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents 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 ring eerily true.
As Nella uncovers the secrets of her new household, she realizes the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands – but does she plan to save or destroy them?
Where do I begin with this book? Let me start with a quote: “When you have truly come to know a person, Nella – when you see beneath the sweeter gestures, the smiles – when you see the rage and the pitiful fear which each of us hide – then forgiveness is everything.”
The writing is exquisite; each word was intended. I barely could find the will to put down the book for even a moment. Burton has woven a tale of secrets and magic so finely that you are drawn into the tapestry in the blink of an eye. The story comes with lovable characters with whom the reader (this reader) is able to connect. It seems like a story that came to the author fully formed, and the execution of it, the picture painting is so flawless. It contains such themes as love, obsession, greed, jealousy, secrets, and betrayal.
Nella was the one character who surprised me; she held up really well under the weight of her circumstances. She did not fall apart, as one may have expected her to.
For a titular character, The Miniaturist is very elusive in the scheme of the story. She appears a few, random times and sends cryptic notes, never uttering a word to anyone throughout the story. It’s like, as soon as you move towards her, she is gone. She remains the barely visible hand that delivers everyone’s tragedy to their own doorsteps.
Did I already gush about the writing? So gorgeous.
Fun Fact: Petronella Oortman was a real person in 17th Century Amsterdam who married a merchant named Johannes Brandt. And who had a doll house that is now housed at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
I have read some reviews of the book where reviewers say that many of the themes in the book (such as race, gender, feminism) are more 21st century than 1686 Amsterdam.
I know some of these issues were not prominent back then, and maybe a maid raising a fist to someone else’s face would be absurd, but I would like to think that these issues have always been present and discussed on some level.
If you have read this, what do you think? Leave us a comment below. Also, please follow The Lit Yard on social media. Twitter and Instagram: @thelityard
My final word: I felt this! You should try it.
P.S: Jessie Burton has a new book coming out June 30th called ‘The Muse’. Looking forward to reading it!