There was quite the hype around The Miniaturist when I posted on social media that I’d bought it. It’s a book filled with intrigue, an interesting setting and a lot of mystery. However, as I read it, I felt like more could have been done with it and it felt a little confusing.
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Set in 1968 Amsterdam, The Miniaturist follows Petronella (known as Nella mostly) as she finds herself wed to a man whom she had no choice over and who also seems to have no interest in her. One day he gifts her a giant doll house of their home and so she seeks out a “Miniaturist” to create dolls and furniture for the house. But soon some of the items start to cause some concern, creeping Nella out.
The Miniaturist plot – 4/5
Alongside the mystery and intrigue that the above causes, in The Miniaturist, Petronella finds the lives of those around her changing rapidly. She marries a family of wealth where her now husband Johannes is one of the most powerful men in Amsterdam. However, things don’t go as easily as Nella would hope and there are far more secrets to this family she now finds herself a part of than she could ever have imagined.
Upon initially finishing The Miniaturist, I found myself a tad underwhelmed. I believe there was so much hype around it that it may never have reached my lofty expectations. However, after some consideration, it was actually a really great plot. There are some shocking moments alongside the mystery of who the miniaturist is and how they know so much about Petronella making for a book that, if you don’t go into it expecting too much, will keep you well entertained throughout.
Without ruining too much of the plot, I did find the ending a little dissatisfying but has set up for a great sequel in The House of Fortune which I will be picking up as soon as it comes out in paperback.
The Miniaturist characters – 4/5
In The Miniaturist, Petronella herself struggles a little with “main character syndrome” where, because she’s the one from whose eyes we see the story, she lacks any real glowing personality. She’s not overly funny, she’s not particularly mean – she doesn’t stand out too much. However, she does grow from a timid young girl into a much more confident and decided character as the book progresses – she goes from quiet to a leader. It’s great to see.
The other characters around her are more well-developed Johannes is a kind soul with many secrets. Marin is like the wicked sister-in-law who we hope throughout the whole book has a reason for her cruelty and shortness with everyone around her. Otto and Cornelia are the staff around the house, both bringing their own views and aspects to the plot. Cornelia is my favourite – she has quite a carefree attitude – she’s young and quickly grows an affection for Nella which makes her stick up for her often and show her great kindness.
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton overall rating – 4/5
Setting a great scene and filled with mystery and intrigue, The Miniaturist is a good book by Jessi Burton. Is it worth all the hype people have given it? In my opinion, no. But is it, without the hype, a great book by itself? Yes. With well-written characters, a swooping plot and some interesting points I’m looking forward to continuing in the sequel, if historical fiction is your thing and you like a splash of something unique, The Miniaturist might be right up your street.