The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton – Doll houses, Uncanny Events. And a Late Review
24th June, 2016
An 18 year old wife, new to Amsterdam, is given a mysterious wedding gift – a cabinet sized doll’s house. Very soon she starts receiving mysterious packages to furnish the house, always coinciding with the changes happening in the items in the household and its inhabitants. Who is the miniaturist? Does someone have the power to predict the future or are their lives being controlled by some unknown force?
This was a book that I read in the beginning of this year and greatly enjoyed. However I couldn’t bring myself to review it because of one small (rather big) fact that I disliked in this book. The story is very interesting though.
WHAT PROMPTED ME TO READ IT?
The amazing blurb sounds really eerie- imagine getting presents and then having to witness in reality what the presents predict!
And what is more strange, Petronella Oortman was real woman with a real dollhouse that you can view at Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. The story is purely fictional and not biographical, but that does add an extra edge to any reader’s curiosity. Here is a picture of the actual doll house.
Petronella (Nella) Oortman, arrives in Amsterdam as an eighteen year old wife. As a wedding present given in the name of being a “distraction”, Johannes, her husband, presents Nella with an exquisite miniature version of their marital home. The doll house, if we may call it so, is an exact replica, correct down to pictures, utensils and tiny dolls of its inhabitants. This gift enchants and disturbs Nella. Her husband seems to avoid her at all costs, locked in his study or hiding away in his the office at the warehouse. She feels caged as Johannes’s sister, Marian, doesn’t seem willing to part with her command over the house, the servants and even her brother.
Then, comes gifts for the cabinet from the mysterious miniaturist. Small additions to the house arriving unasked for. Nella has to find out if the miniaturist is a prophet or a spy for the miniature presents she receives begin to dictate the course of events in the house, sometimes with very painful consequences.
WHAT I LOVED?
1. The PROSE :
The imagery and language is breath taking. Burton brings everything to life, be it the hustle and bustle of the market, the unrelenting quietness of the mansion, the vivid colors in hidden rooms or curious artifacts that are mysterious in their own ways.
2. THE GREED vs RELIGIOUS SENTIMENTS :
Marin, is an embodiment of piety. She sneers at Nella’s love of marzipan because sugar “makes people’s souls sick”, nags her brother to sell it and feasts on candied walnuts on the sly.
3. DETAILS :
The details in the book are excellent. Burton seamlessly deals with issues of gender, race, sexuality in the book. However when I finished the book I did feel the issues seem to be cramped up towards the end of the novel .
WHAT I LOATHED?
You know that feeling when you so greatly enjoy a read that you are waiting for the grand moment of its reveal – the mystery of the miniaturist, the marriage and the bossy sister? Well …
THE CLIMAX :
This book is wonderfully written. It snatches you away from the comfort of your reading nook to the eerie Gothic like setting of Nella’s mansion and the mysterious ways of the miniaturist. Three fourth of the novel builds up the suspense so high that you just can’t stop reading. And then…
Then it falls flat. Flat that it hurts you as if you fell on your back from a great height. I wish the ending was more well done and the climax a bit more theatrical. I was very disappointed with the end.
RATING THE BOOK AND FINAL VERDICT :
That’s all. Just one bad thing for me about the book. It is a great read and I was actually transported to Amsterdam of 1600s while reading through.
When I started reading it, I was pretty sure it would be a 4 plus rating. And then I thought, maybe it deserves a 4.5. If I could have the book split into two, I would give 4 for three fourth the novel and maybe 3 or even lesser for the last quarter.
I would definitely recommend it for the brilliance of the first half. But do keep your expectations low of the ending of the book. Also, I think Jessie Burton is a fantastic writer and she does a lot of research before writing her novels, something I whole heartedly appreciate. She is a writer with a lot of potential. This might not be her finest, but it is a great debut. I will be looking forward to reading her new book, The Muse.
Title : The Miniaturist
Author : Jessie Burton
Publisher : Picador
Published : 2015
Language : English
Pages : 424
Rating : 3.5/5
Have you read The Miniaturist? Did you enjoy the read? Are you looking forward to Jessie Burton’s new release The Muse?
Show some Love!
Share this post[easy-social-share buttons=”facebook,twitter,google,pinterest” style=”icon” template=”grey-circles-retina” twitter_user=”thebooksatchel”]
Jessie Burton studied at Oxford University and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and worked for nine years as an actress and a PA before her first novel, The Miniaturist, was published. The Miniaturist was translated into over thirty languages. She lives in London.