Book Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

April 15, 2015

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WARNING: Whilst I try not to spoil any of the books I review, there may be minor spoilers in the following. If you don't want to risk it you might want to stop reading now. You know, just in case.

* * *

Eighteen year old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam at the home of the wealthy merchant, Johannes Brandt, to begin her new life as his new wife. Despite not being the life or the marriage that she expects, Johannes is kind, presenting her with the most extraordinary of wedding gifts: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. She enlists a miniaturist to help fill her mini home and when the little creations arrive they appear eerily accurate - as if the miniaturist already knows all about her and her new family.

Nella soon discovers that her new life is far from the idyllic one she had once hoped for and instead is fraught with secrets - and danger. The miniaturist appears to know far more than Nella does but does she plan to help save them or destroy them?

* * *

After scouring the shelves at Waterstones determined not to miss out on their "buy one get one half price" offer I stumbled across the debut novel by Jessie Burton, The Miniaturist. I had heard a little of the hype surrounding book and seen the odd post about it on instagram so I thought I'd give it a shot myself. 

Every time Kami noticed I had been reading this book he would ask if I was enjoying it, if it was good, and each time I found myself answering, "I don't know. It's a strange one." I read a variety of books. I love a good chick-lit, thriller or crime novel but I found it increasingly difficult to know where to place this. I think that the fact I didn't know how I felt about The Miniaturist in general might have had something to do with that. That isn't to say I didn't enjoy the book - I did. I just don't know how it makes me feel which is never really what I want from a book. Having said that, I think the fact that I managed to finish this book in just a little over a week is testament to its readability. 

Despite being set in a time, and lifestyle, I know absolutely nothing about (Amsterdam, 1686) the story was immediately engaging and altogether intriguing. Well-written and fluid in its storyline it was easy to immerse myself in its pages, curious to know where Burton was going to lead us, what was the next secret that would send Nella's life spiraling out of control.

One tiny bug-bear of mine is that I hate when a large part of a book isn't tied up nicely. Now I know that not all aspects of life are tied up with a neat little bow and sometimes things are better left to the imagination but when I have invested hours of my life into a book and a nagging question isn't answered... well it does leave a bit of a bitter taste in the mouth. Without saying too much, I just felt that to name your book "The Miniaturist" and then not fully explore their story just feels a bit disappointing.

Still, it was an enjoyable read and an especially good debut novel by Burton. Now if only my writing was as coherent...

Rating: 4/5

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  1. Really interesting to hear your take on this and it's quite similar to a couple of reviews I've read - it's good but they're not really sure where to place it! I did download it and hopefully can whizz through it on my week off NEXT WEEK! Hurrah. I like that it's set in a completely different time and place to pretty much anything I've read before (and I don't mind a few loose ends!)
    M x

  2. I've seen a few things about this, and I was curious to take a look. A friend of mine is reading it and seems to be enjoying it too. Maybe it's another one to add to the Audible wish list haha


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