Five words from the blurb: truth, hidden, obsession, betrayal, love
The Miniaturist is set in Amsterdam during the 17th century and follows 18-year-old Nella Oortman as she begins a new life in the city. She marries Johannes, a rich merchant, but unfortunately he barely notices her and the household is packed with secrets. She feels isolated, but when she complains her husband buys her a miniature version of their house, including exact replicas of everything in it. This strange gift seems to have some magical properties and Nella soon becomes captivated by the miniature world.
This book started off really well – it was atmospheric, contained well developed characters and had an original premise that intrigued me.
Unfortunately everything came apart in the middle. The plot began to flag and many of the best elements of the book disappeared. As the forward momentum was lost I increasingly noticed flaws within the writing. There were many wonderful elements and some of the scenes will remain with me for a long time, but those looking for outstanding literature will be disappointed.
The magical realism aspects of the novel were wonderful and had a creepiness that few other books have been able to create, but unfortunately these weren’t followed through. There was no adequate resolution to this thread of the story and so the ending lacked the special spark it deserved.
This review sounds negative, but I did enjoy the reading The Miniaturist. My criticisms are mainly due to the fact that the first half of this book was outstanding so I felt let down as the brilliance began to unravel. The positives do outweigh the negatives and the multiple elements of this book, coupled with its readability, make it a great book club choice – I could discuss it for hours!
Recommended to anyone looking for an intriguing read!
The thoughts of other bloggers:
Jessie Burton is as good as Daphne Du Maurier. Utter Biblio
It is intelligently written although it is not for readers who want speedy action and easily-definable characters. The Elephant in the Writing Room
Nella feels less like a character than a vehicle through which Burton can make social commentary on the life and times of women in 17th century Amsterdam. Curious Animal