So, I’m not actually sure how this review is going to go for one simple reason: weeks later, I still don’t know how I feel about this book. Maybe you can help me figure it out in the comments?
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton tells the story of 18-year-old Nella Oortman from the moment she joins her new husband, merchant Johannes Brandt, in Amsterdam. Eager to begin married life, Nella finds that her new circumstances are full of secrets and less than welcoming. Things become particularly strange when Johannes presents Nella with a cabinet-sized replica of their home and she gets in touch with a miniaturist to help her furnish it.
OK, let’s start with what I know for certain about this book. Placed in the 17th century, and in Amsterdam, I really liked the setting. It showcased the city for what it was back then and I enjoy learning snippets of history by reading fiction. However, what I especially liked about all this was that the story was modern despite the time it was set in. Nella was a symbol of this modernism.
None of the characters was overly likeable. In fact, they all had certain characteristics about them which placed the reader more on the side of dislike rather than like. But what they did have was mystery. As the book progresses, it peels back a layer of Nella, Johannes and the rest of the household but we never really discover their true selves. It is these secrets, their greed, and the themes of gender, race and sexuality which keep us gripped and often appalled.
However, I do fear that this book was overhyped just a tad. Like I already said, I just didn’t get it. Especially the character of the miniaturist. There was no point to this character and the story would have done well enough without them. Overall, the story was interesting but I felt let down at the end and I probably wouldn’t recommend it to others.