Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Honest Book Reviews on Hapless and Hopeless

imageSet in the 17th Century, against a backdrop of dazzling wealth sown mostly by the Dutch East Trading Company, this story follows 18-year-old country girl Nella Oortman to Amsterdam, where she must find her feet in an arranged marriage to rich Merchant, Johannes Brandt.From religious oppression to class struggles and social etiquette – this book is a refreshing insight into old Europe which, for me, made a nice change from British Historical/Period Fiction. I was hooked on the unfolding mystery of the Miniaturist, hired by Nella to furnish the wedding gift given to her by her cold and distant husband.

The complex relationships of those central to the book, namely Marin the sister of Johannes and their servants, gave depth to Nella’s confusion and isolation within this new marriage, however Marin’s continued aloofness soon became very irritating and I found myself losing patience waiting for the accompanying snippet of back story to land. Having said that, when it did arrive it wasn’t what I expected given that I found the basic storyline to be a little predictable – new wife, new class, cold sister-in-law and disinterested husband.

The book touched on lots of different issues, including race and homosexuality, merely skating around the edge of the crux, leaving me feeling that the closure of the story and sub-plots were somewhat abrupt and rushed. Very underwhelming given the hype surrounding this release.

Summary: Jessie Burton has a beautiful way with words which pulls you vividly to the scene as though it were before your very eyes. Unfortunately there were simply not enough chapters to satisfactorily dissect the complex issues entangled in the main plot. Worth a read if only as a colourful introduction to the opulence and pomp of  17th Century Amsterdam.

My Rating: 3/5

I would be be interested to hear your views on this book for those that have read it. I actually read this in September and it’s still on my mind as could have been so much more!

And I’m always keeping my ear out for book recommendations so please do leave me a comment with your suggestions 🙂

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