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?
Posted on my original reviewing site on August 2nd 2015
There are times when I’m reading, not often admittedly, but there are times when I struggle to picture the story I’m falling into – but this book was certainly not one of those stories. The writing relaxed me and the story was easy to fall into. I found this book in a charity shop, untouched, and I’m happy I did. When I read the back of the book I knew this was a book for me. Despite that, I didn’t know what to expect.
When I first started reading I knew I would feel incredibly uncomfortable in Nella’s situation, I didn’t like Marin at all and I immediately didn’t trust the Meermanses. I did find the writing beautiful though, and felt Nella was being portrayed brilliantly. I didn’t really trust Johannes at the beginning, but my opinion did change; I was sad about his death and whilst reading up to it I was hoping something would prevent it. Marin’s death was awful and the pages that contained hers and her brothers demise made me incredibly sad.
From Jack’s first appearance I wanted to know more about him, but when I did discover more I wished I hadn’t. I felt so bad for Nella, she’d left her home for her marriage and Johannes had disrespected that sacrifice unforgivably. Johanne’s relationship with Jack completely surprised me – but it wasn’t the only romance that had me rereading the pages.
My opinion of Marin was constantly changing and I’m still unsure of how I feel about her. She was a strong woman in those times, but she was still rude to Nella at the start and I don’t like that – although some would argue it was down to her pregnancy hormones. The reveal at the end about the truth of Marin and Meermans shocked me, but not as much as Marin and Otto’s story.
Otto’s presence in the story was done brilliantly, Jessie Burton wasn’t afraid to be brutally honest about how the world was in the late 1600s and I really admired that she didn’t tiptoe around the truth. The last thing I expected was that Otto was Thea’s father – for a while I considered it may be Jack’s baby. Cornelia was sweet and lovely and although she played no crucial part in the story, I’m fond of her.
Nella developed so much throughout the story, and it was subtle so you only realised that she’d once been so timid once the read was over.
The story itself was different to how I expected and finished on much more of a cliffhanger than one would usually like. I want more. What happens to Otto, Cornelia, Thea and of course Nella – she seems to have inherited so much responsibility in such a short space of time and at such a young age. And what happened to the Miniaturist?! The hope that there may be a sequel or an epilogue released is strong. Despite this, the writing was beautiful and easy to follow and I’m surprised that something so intricate is Burton’s first novel. The idea was something original and the picture I have in my head of the cabinet house is a pretty one. The story moved at a pleasant pace and I was never bored. This story was a great escape and I really did enjoy it. 4/5 for Jessie Burton.