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.

 

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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?

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