The Miniaturist is a wildly successful novel, winning multiple awards and topping bestseller charts for weeks. An auspicious start for a debut author and I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy. The version I read comprised a beautiful hardback edition (pictured below).
Set in Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam, the plot centres around eighteen-year-old Nella who has been plucked from a rural village to be the wife of a wealthy trader whom she barely knows. Naive and innocent, Nella is plunged into a family drama for which she is ill prepared. As events unfold, Nella takes strange comfort from tiny gifts which arrive from a mysterious woman who displays an unnerving talent for foresight.
I found The Miniaturist to be an exquisitely written tale. The fluidity of the prose is as breathtaking as it is accessible. This is literature of the highest quality. The language dances across the page, gently unfolding a story which is a joy to read. Jessie Burton brings Amsterdam in 1686 vividly to life, with characters so real you feel you know them. The political situation and religious influences are woven together cleverly into a tale of love and loss which is gripping throughout. The book also contains a Seventeenth-Century Dutch Glossary which explains the local and time-specific references used.
By the end, I did have a couple of issues with the plot but these did not seriously detract from my enjoyment or appreciation of the book. Nevertheless, I would have liked more closure and I think my reading of it suffered a little from a misconception I had when I began reading. For some reason (presumably reviews I had read and also the book blurb) I had thought that I was reading a mystery - one with a puzzle, clues and resolution. This isn't really the case. For me, The Miniaturist really shines through as a wonderful, evocative exploration of family, of love (and hate), of politics and religion at a time and in a place about which I knew almost nothing. It is heartening that such quality has translated into sales and I look forward to the next offering by this talented author.
I love most types of fiction - crime, mystery, fantasy. Oh, and historical fiction of course and middle-grade books and, well, you get the picture.
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