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The Miniaturist: A Novel Paperback – June 2, 2015
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“The Miniaturist is one of the year’s most hyped novels, and it’s easy to see why. Burton conjures every scent and crackle of Nella’s world. A-” (Entertainment Weekly)
“The Miniaturist is that rarest of things - beautifully written, yet also a compelling page-turner. It’s haunting, magical, and full of surprises, the kind of book that reminds you why you fell in love with reading.” (—S.J. Watson, author of Before I Go To Sleep)
‘Utterly transporting...one of those rare debut novels that excels in every regard. The past is brought to life in potent, sensory detail: one feels steeped in it. Burton’s prose beguiles the reader...My first instinct on finishing this book was to immediately read it again.” (Hannah Kent, author of Burial Rites)
“Burton’s writing is expressive and descriptive. While her prose is rich, it does not overwhelm the story...This historical novel with its strong female characters will appeal to those who enjoy the haunting undercurrents of Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind.” (—Library Journal)
“[A] haunting debut.” (Good Housekeeping)
“Jessie Burton nimbly transports contemporary social issues to the 17th century where a costume drama rich in historical detail is embellished with supernatural intrigue…The Miniaturist is a late-harvest summer delight.” (New York Daily News)
“As in Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, the pleasure lies in giving in to well-wrought illusions, and the result is a beach read with meat on its bones - perfect for the Labor Day transition from play to work.” (New York magazine/Vulture.com)
“Rich in 17th century atmosphere…Debut novelist Jessie Burton has a terrific subject... All those severe portraits of people in dark clothes and starched white ruffs, along with those glossy, death-scented still lifes, spring to life.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
“A standout portrayal of the wide range of women’s ingenuity.” (Booklist)
“A fabulously gripping read that will appeal to fans of Girl With a Pearl Earring and The Goldfinch, but Burton is a genuinely new voice with her visceral take on sex, race and class...” (—The Guardian)
From the Back Cover
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 splendid new home is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, and leaves Nella alone with his sister, the fearsome Marin.
Nella's life unexpectedly changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish it, she engages the services of a miniaturist–an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie ways.
Johannes's gift helps Nella pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand–and fear–the escalating dangers around them. 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?
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There was so much of the story that seemed unfinished and way too much was left up in the air. Again making the story seem extremely incomplete. As others, I'm not really sure why it was called the miniaturist because it was less about the miniaturist than about Nella. I did read it to the end because I kept hoping that it would get better and there were some parts of the story that were ok but I like a story that has an ending, has closure, answers the questions and doesn't leave things to the imagination of the reader. Sorry, I wish I hadn't wasted my time reading this one.
Read only if you like much of the storyline left to your own imagination.
At first the novel seemed like a conventional but interesting tale of a naive young woman from the countryside married off to a wealthy older man in Amsterdam, a husband who, insultingly, gives her a large dollhouse to play with, as if she were a small child. But then the dollhouse starts to take on peculiar, almost supernatural powers. It's an exact replica of the house the young wife lives in, complete with the same inhabitants, and the figures seem almost alive, predicting events that will occur within the actual house. WHAAAAT???
This silliness and further vague, ridiculous stuff about the mysterious miniaturist herself-- material that is never resolved for the reader--make the novel an uncomfortable hybrid: neither straight-out fantasy nor something fully based on factual material.The two elements do NOT combine well at all.
Really-- the author has plenty of compelling themes and plot-lines to works with, so I don't understand why she felt it necessary to include this fantasy element that undermines the credibility of the entire book.
The writing is as detailed and precise as a painting by Vermeer and was the perfect style to tell this story. I thoroughly enjoyed it and stayed up late into the night reading. This is not a quick beach-read sort of book, but the type to sink into before the fire on a cold winter night. It's also surprisingly relevant to modern times.