BOOK REVIEW: The Miniaturist – by Jessie Burton

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Title: The Miniaturist
Author: Jessie Burton
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
First published: July 3rd 2014
Finished reading: March 10th 2016
Pages: 400
Rating 3,5qqq

“Growing older does not seem to make you more certain, Nella thinks. It simply presents you with more reasons for doubt.”

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Having grown up in a town close to Amsterdam, I was immediately intrigued by the setting of The Miniaturist. The fact that the story is set in 1686 only made me want to read this novel even more; I love historical fiction and I really looked forward to the historical descriptions of a city I know quite well. I have to say Jessie Burton didn’t disappoint. While this debut novel isn’t perfect, I still really enjoyed this story. The historical setting and descriptions are very well done and made me feel like I was walking through the city along with the main characters. Nelly Oortman is an interesting enough character; she feels a bit bland at point, but a 17th century woman wouldn’t have been allowed to have a lot of freedom in the first place. The other main characters are quite well developed as well and the story is beautifully written. I would have liked to see more of the miniaturist and the cabinet in the story though; after seeing the various covers and blurb I thought they would play a bigger role in the novel. Part of the plot wasn’t completely credible either, but like I said before: while The Miniaturist isn’t perfect, it is without doubt a very interesting and entertaining read for those who enjoy the genre.

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Nelly Oortman grew up on the countryside, but at eighteen her parents decided to arrange a marriage with a merchart trader named Johannes Brandt. Soon after that Nelly arrives in Amsterdam to begin her new life as Johannes’ wife… But when she enters her new home, she isn’t welcomed as she expected. Johannes seems distant and is never at home, leaving her alone with his sister Marin. Marin doesn’t really seem to like the girl, and Nelly feels quite alone… Having only the servants to talk to. But things change as Johannes gives Nelly her wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. Nelly is told she can furnish her gift as she wishes, and decides to engage the services of a miniaturist for the miniatures. The miniaturist turns out to be a lot more mysterious than Nelly can ever imagine; when she sees the first pieces, she is shocked by the accuracy of the tiny details. The miniaturist seems to know more about the Brandt household than herself, and soon Nelly starts finding out some unusual secrets… And they might be in danger.

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I really enjoyed reading The Miniaturist. The historical descriptions and setting are very well done and really set the right mood for this story. Some of the characters might feel a bit bland at points, but there are always other interesting characters closeby to fill the gap. Some of the plot might not feel all that credible and I would have liked for the miniaturist to have a bigger role in the story, but that doesn’t take away I would definitely recommend this novel by Jessie Burton.

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11 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: The Miniaturist – by Jessie Burton

  1. Cool! I´ve had my eye on this one for awhile now as well but was put off by some of the Amazon reviews. But now…Dutch historical fiction ftw! 😉

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  2. It is odd isn’t it that the miniaturist doesn’t feature more given the books title. Agree with yiu that the plot was a bit shaky at times but I enjoyed the atmosphere the most. Made me want to revisit Amsterdam

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would have liked for the miniaturist to have a bigger role, but I guess she decided to focus on other characters instead. I agree that the descriptions and atmosphere are the best part of this book; they brought back a lot of Amsterdam memories.

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