The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton


Title: The Miniaturist

Author: Jessie Burton

Publisher: Picador

Release Date: Out now in hardback

Rating: 4.5/5

It is easy to write a review about a book that I love, and this is definitely one of those stand-out novels.

 As we move into autumn here in the UK, and closer to Christmas time, I like to cozy up to a book at the end of a long working day… or any day, really.

01-11-2001; rgb 19-02-2007

Petronella Oortman’s cabinet house.

 The Miniaturist is the perfect novel for this. It is set in the late autumn/early winter of Amsterdam in 1686. The plot revolves around young Nella Oortman, newly married, as she arrives at her husband’s house in the wealthier neighbourhood of Amsterdam. She has expectations of a husband, hopes that he does not fulfill. He is distant, he prefers to travel and work to spending time with his eighteen-year-old wife. Nella is disappointed; she is in a new place without anyone to turn to. Her new sister-in-law, Marin, is equally as distant, and seems to run the household, which should be Nella’s job. Their only maidservant, Cornelia, is much more outspoken than any maid Nella had at home, and is not someone Nella can turn to.

 She is in despair about her new life when her husband suddenly calls her downstairs one morning and gifts Nella with a wedding present… A miniature house. An exact copy of Nella’s new home. I was recently holidaying in Richmond, London (a beautiful place) and stopped in the Waterstones there. I was discussing the book with the sales advisor and she said the author, Jessie Burton, had been to the store recently to do book signings and that the idea of writing about the cabinet came from her own. There is even a picture on the opening pages of the originally to give you a better idea of the size and quality of such a thing. Be assured, it is no simple dolls house.

 Things take a strange turn when the miniaturist starts to send Nella items she didn’t request. Items that are too close for comfort. Is the Miniaturist trying to tell Nella something? How does she know the secrets of the Brandt household?

 The Miniaturist is full of surprises that you’ll look back and think, ‘That was so obvious!’ but you just didn’t see. Well, I didn’t see them. Maybe you will.

I’ve already recommended the book to many of my friends and when discussing it I always mention the cover. I’ve said it before, and still stand by the power a book cover has. This cover in particular will stand out on a bookshelf; I love it! It gives a great sense of the story, it gives clues to the period the book is set in, the subject, and overall feel of the novel comes across through the cover art. It made me request to review the book, and I’m sure will do the same for many other people. The pattern on the inside cover is lovely as well.

 The only negative I can point out is that the story tends to move away from our young protagonist, Nella, and focuses more on the other characters, particularly the fate of Johannes and Marin. You wouldn’t guess from the start of the novel how everything ends up. There are lots of twists and turns. A great novel about the secrets we all keep behind closed doors. You’ll be surprised, and you’ll definitely fall in love with The Miniaturist.


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