5 November 2014

The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton

Set on the canals of 17th Century Amsterdam, this intriguing story is a beautiful, sensory overload. 
 The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton

18 year-old Petronella Oortman arrives wide-eyed from her country home, to the rich decadence of life as an influential merchants wife. Struggling to establish herself in an unfamiliar world presided over by her new husband's sister, she is gifted a miniature home - a perfect cabinet replica of her new house. A gifted miniaturist creates eerily similar furniture and objects leading Nella to discover that all is not as it seems within this unusual family.
Recommended to me by the lovely Jess, I simply couldn't stop reading (luckily we had several hours to spare on a flight home from Norway otherwise there would have been no chores being done this week). The twists and turns of the richly layered plot had me flicking through pages at a rate of knots. No doubt helped by our recent explorations of Amsterdam, the author weaves a spellbinding tale of obsession, love, retribution and tiptoes on the darker side of life. 

With a hint of the fantastic, the beautiful poetic writing of The Miniaturist reminded me of imagery in The Crimson Petal And The White by Michel Faber. The level of intense detail felt as though you were striding along the streets with Nella, desperate to understand what was going on around her. You could almost taste Amsterdam through the pages.

 

Inspired by the real life miniature belonging to Petronella Oortman, a Dutchwoman married to Amsterdam merchant Johannes Brandt, the miniature case is on display at Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum. Each of the nine-rooms gleaming with porcelain, oak, marble and glass became the inspiration for Burton's fictional book. I think we need a return visit!

Have you been tempted by the well derserved hype of this novel?

13 comments :

  1. I think the hype upon the release of The Miniaturist ruined it for me. If I had just picked it up in the library I would have thought it was a nice read and not given it much of a second thought. But because it came so highly recommended by the entire world (or so it seemed) I really expected something special. I thought the descriptions of Amsterdam were lovely (my favourite parts) and I too felt present in the time period. But I needed something more from it. I think I didn't care enough about the characters for the things that happen to affect me as a reader. That being said, I'd definitely read Burton's second novel as I think she really does have a talent for sensory exploration on the page. x

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  2. This book keeps catching my eye so i might have to pick it up from waterstones next time i am in town!

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  3. That sounds like a great book! I'll have to add it to my list

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  4. I'm reading this book right now! Also because of Jess' recommendation :-).

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  5. I haven't read this yet. Luckily I seem to have missed most of the hype surrounding its release, so hopefully I will enjoy it more than others who've been put off by it.


    Gemma

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  6. It is a good, detailed read; she'll transport you...

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  7. It was - travel without leaving your armchair!

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  8. Definitely - I'd lend you mine if I could!

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  9. I had exactly the same response to Gone Girl - there are definitely bonuses to coming late to a party!
    I agree with you, there could have been a touch more of the characters, but I guess Amsterdam jostles in the way.

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  10. I'm adding it to my list, you've never steered me wrong before!

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  11. Haha, at least we now know I'm consistent! ;) I'm loving my new book too - "All the Light We Cannot See"

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  12. I hear you Amanda - I was lucky because I picked it up right after it came out and before the hype. The Goldfinch was hard for me because of all the attention it got (well and because it was a billion pages long)... I liked it, but not as much as I expected to.

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  13. Sounds great, I had a friend with a house a dollhouse that looked hers on the outside and I was always so jealous as a kid!

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