My rating: 5 stars
How does the saying go? Never judge a book by its cover. I can’t say I truly judged the worth of The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton’s debut novel, by its cover. However, I definitely bought it because I fell in love with its blue colour tones and the illustrations used to transform the cover into a fragment of a cabinet house. I don’t remember even paying any attention to the blurb to know if I was really interested in the story before buying it. So, the book quietly sat on my bookshelves during a few months until I decided to pick it up. When I finally did so, I was pleasantly surprised!
The year is 1686. Petronella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to live with her husband, wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt, whom she barely knows. As a wedding gift, he offers her a cabinet-sized replica of their home, a present 18-year-old Nella finds hard to accept, as she is not a girl anymore. To add to this, her husband doesn’t spend much time with her, neither during the day nor the night, and she has to learn how to fit in with a household full of secrets, where austere and unlikeable Marin, Johannes’s sister, reigns.
Nella’s life becomes a puzzle full of missing pieces that she has to find. She commissions a miniaturist to furnish her cabinet house, who then sends her miniatures she has never asked for and that are replicas of things and persons from her daily life, although they have never met. And her husband and sister-in-law have secrets she tries to uncover by listening behind doors, entering into rooms and asking questions of Otto, Johannes’s manservant, and Cornelia, the house maid whom she befriends. Continue reading