Burton, Jessie "The Miniaturist" - 2014
Fascinating story, gripping story. If you believe in magic, you should read this book. If you do not believe in magic but like historical fiction, you should also read this book. This is a great combination of both.
A novel about a family in the 17th century, a rich family in Amsterdam, a poor girl from the countryside who marries into the rich family. Having grown up in a village, I know women like Nella, the wife in the house has nothing to say, first there is the mother, then the sister and if and when they die before the wife, it's the kids.
But that is not the major part of the story, the book is full of secrets. I guessed the first secret quite early and knew there were more to come even before the first one was revealed. But it took me a little longer to guess what would happen next.
The author was inspired by the doll's house of a real life Petronella Oortman, a real life doll's house that can be visited in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. For a view of the house, click here.
But this is the only resemblance to our protagonist, the name and the fact that she owned a doll's house.
And this is what first drew me to the book, the doll's house. I saw the cover, read the description (which I always think is very important) and my decision was made. I wanted to read this novel.
Anyway, we meet a lot of interesting characters in the story, they have all been painted very well, the author has a great talent to describe the people outside and inside. And you almost feel like you live among them, you can see the streets of Amsterdam how they must have looked like more than 300 years ago.
I really liked this book. It is an easy read but still contains a lot of information, it is a mystery but has a great historical background.
I felt the whole time that this story should have been written in Dutch, I even caught myself rethinking the sentences in Dutch. This has never happened to me before which is probably a sign of how well the author managed to draw me into the story.
This is Jessie Burton's first novel. I am sure I will read her next one, should she decide to carry on writing. I hope so and wish her good luck.
We discussed this in our book club in March 2016.
From the back cover:
"On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift; a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations ring eerily true.
As Nella uncovers the secrets of her new household, she realises the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands - but does she plan to save or destroy them?"