The Miniaturist | Book review
Published by Ecco Press
Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam--a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion--a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant.
"There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . ."
On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office--leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.
But Nella's world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist--an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .
Johannes' gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand--and fear--the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?
Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.
I thought The Miniaturist was slow to begin with, nothing really seemed to happen and there wasn’t much context for the characters or what was going on. The beginning I struggled with, but once I got into the story I was drawn in. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I couldn’t put it down but there was an element of suspense.
The way The Miniaturist went;
- Nella moves into her new husband’s house, he’s absent but his wonderfully hostile sister is there to greet her. (Think the ugly sisters in Cinderella)
- She begins her married life alone and whining.
- Johannes buys her a cabinet house to make her feel better.
- Secret after secret comes out. I mean these aren’t little secrets I mean big ass secrets that makes you wince
- Then the whole thing goes to shit!
I was literally left totally bewildered yet totaling enamoured after reading this book. The writing style was absolutely stunning. But jeez a girl needs a little bit of context. I found the whole thing utterly confusing. I then found the helpful dictionary/glossary at the back. Totally wish I would have known about that before I embarked on the totally foreign world of Amsterdam politics.
I gave this book a 3 stars purely based on the writing style because without that it would be more like a 2/2.5. I just didn’t feel anything for the characters, which was difficult because the emotional parts of the book seemed to breeze by. Kinda like a leaf in the wind. Which isn’t what you want. But man the writing.
This book totally marketed itself as something completely different to what the pay off was. I thought it was going to be a lot more magical than it actually was. There was literally no magic in it, more of the unknown – which is never really addressed which I was little disappointed with if I’m honest. I was expecting something completely different. Which isn’t to say what actually happened was bad, just not what expected. Kinda like when you bite into what you think is a chocolate truffle and it turns out to be coffee. Not completely bad, but a total surprise.
My favourite character in The Miniaturist was probably Toots. If I’m honest he was the only character that didn’t get on my nerves, cause boy were some of them whiny. He accepted his fate and everything about his life, but there wasn’t a sense of him holding anyone on a pedestal. I enjoyed his dialogue and the way he interacted with the other characters. He was the one character that I could keep a track off and truly felt something for.
My least favourite character was Nella. I thought she was a whiny so-and-so. There was never any get up and go in her. She was content to fall apart. I don’t know what it was about her. She seemed to suffer more than the actual people going through the hardships. It made her very unlikeable.
I don’t know what I would have want to happen. One thing I would wish for would be more emotion. The characters were closed off and the miniaturist part of the story could have been more developed. In fact most of the story could have been more developed. Maybe I would have liked it more. I just think this book needed to have something more.
I don’t know whether I would recommend it if I’m honest. You would have to make sure that I knew the person would like it. It wasn’t what I was looking for, but it might be someone’s ideal book. Somewhere.
Have you read this book? What did you think about the characters? Were you satisfied with the ending?