Context | Don’t you love the feeling when you read a book review and you think “oh, this sounds like a book I must read”? That’s exactly what happened when I read Izzy’s review of “The Miniaturist”. And here I am now, writing my own review of this lovely book.

In a nutshell | “The Miniaturist” (2014) tells the story of Nella, a 18-year-old girl who gets married to a successful Amsterdam trader, Johannes Brandt. Starting a new life in a new city, Nella discovers bit-by-bit her new family’s secrets and develops from being a shy girl to a strong and independent woman. It is a novel about how women were seen in the XVIIth century, about trading in the Netherlands, about the influence of the church in people’s lives, about family secrets and unexpected collapse. All in one single story!

the-miniaturist-cover-design-jessie-burton-story readers high tea

Review structure | There are 3 sides of the story that I liked a lot – the historical fiction facet, the mystery surrounding the miniaturist, and the fast pace. And there’s also an aspect that could have been better – the characters’ construction.

Historical fiction | I enjoyed a lot the context in which the story takes place – Amsterdam is in full development, as the Dutch East India Company is the trading heart of Europe. In addition, Burton was inspired by a real piece of furniture – a doll house – that is displayed at Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Given that I lived in the Netherlands for 2 years, I could also easily imagine the places evoked by the writer. It reminded me a bit of the times when I read the Girl with a Pearl Earring novel.

The miniaturist | Well, about the miniaturist … here things get pretty enigmatic. Without giving away too much, the miniaturist motif in the book makes the novel really mysterious. There are weird happenings, unanswered questions, and an almost dark symbolism related to the miniaturist.

Story pace | What really got me hooked up to reading the book was the pace of the story. The first half is slower paced … but the second part makes up for it – it’s a whirlwind! There are many plots twists, a lot of unexpected things come up to the surface, some characters develop in unexpected directions. Extreme whirlwind, trust me! From this point of view, it reminded me a bit of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books 🙂

jessie burton readers high tea
Jessie Burton happy at Waterloo station in London

Characters | The part that could be improved from my point of view is related to the characters. Even though things got together quite nicely, there were points along the story that seemed a bit unrealistic, given the context, the fast pace, and the characters’ development up to that moment.

Wrap-up | To conclude, I recommend reading “The Miniaturist” if you’re into adrenaline rushing books and/or fascinating historical fiction novels. It is an engaging book that will leave you with open questions that will linger with you long after finishing it.

I am now drawn to reading “The Muse”, Burton’s second novel. Have you read any of Burton’s books? What’s your opinion about them?

‘Till next time … happy reading!

Georgiana


PS: The lovely book cover was actually created as hand-made 3D model house! Read more details here.

Images from Panmacmillan.com | Wikipedia.com | JessieBurton.co.uk

 

2 thoughts on “Every woman is the architect of her own fortune: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (book review)

  1. I think one of your negative points about this book is spot-on – the story got too unrealistic. I am also uncomfortable when people quote this line as being from Burton – Every woman is the architect of her own fortune. That is not her quote. That’s a quote from Sallust, a Roman poet, though it is “every man” in that case.

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    1. Yes, exactly, the story got unrealistic towards the end!
      Regarding the quote, I think it’s used more like an idiom (at least that was my intention when I named this post). Indeed, it’s a pity that people wrongly attribute it to Burton.

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