The Miniaturist by Jesse Burton
Reviewed by Sam!
What I drank prior: All of the wine. I had happy hour with my mentor and then Ginny and I killed off a bottle of wine. I didn’t hav edinner. Woof.
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.
Summary from Goodreads
Spoiler-free Overview: Ok so this story is set in Amsterdam in… some year. It’s before electricity, but after the plague if you know what I mean. Our main character Nella is set up with an arranged marriage to Johanas. He’s supes older than her, but she’s still WAY excited to begin her life as a wife. When she gets to her new house, we find out that sis-in-law lives with them too and she don’t like Nella. Her name is Marin. Anyway, hubby gives Nella a dollhouse essentially, as a wedding gift. She’s not happy about it, naturally, cause she’s not a child anymore. But since she’s bored, so goes and finds a Miniaturist to furnish the dollhouse, and then strage shit starts to happen.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: This was not the book I thought I was going to read. I thought it would be magical and fantastical, and instead it was intruige, mysteries, and heartbreak. It’s sort of magical realism. But I did enjoy it a lot, even though it wasn’t what I was expecting.
Characters: Ok, I gotta d othis
- Nella – She is QUITE the naive little shit isn’t she? Fortunately, it’s understandable and all of her actions are reasonable. I felt so bad for her most of the time. this was not the marriage she was looking for.
- Johannas – Bro is so incredibly selfish. But I think he was a GREAT character.
- Marin – God love Marin. She is the most well rounded and balanced character of them all. She’s a grown-ass woman who knows what she wants in a world where she can’t have it because of what’s between her legs. Ugh, I FEEL for her.
- Housemaid lady (I def forget her name) – I like her, but I didn’t really understand her motivations. She wasn’t well thought out, but she was a requirement for the story.
- Other staff guy (agian, def forget his name) – he is a freed black man, whic his supes odd in this time. He’s integral to the story, but again, I don’t think he was well rounded. He was a plot device, which was a shame.
Plot: Not a lot happens in the book until like… the last 1/4 of it. Most of it was building to the “big finale” but I was still involved with the story. I wanted to keep going. I did NOT lik ehow it ended. Also, the miniaturist was one WEIRD person. Real weird.
Writing Style: It’s beautiflly writte. I listened on audio and i found myself going back a couple times cause I wanted to hear certain bits again.
World Building: I think the world building was done very well. Nothing was ever told, always shown, which i really apprecated.
What to pair it with: Read this with a really well crafted long island. It doesn’t hit you until it hits you. Tastes great until you’re fucking smacked in the face with ALL of the feelings and drunkenness.
Rating: 3.5/5 shots.
COMMENT DOWN BELOW: Anyone else read this book? Anyone else read anything by Jessie Burton? I’m wondering if all their books are written like this one.
Until next time, we remain forever drunkenly yours,