Tuesday 26 August 2014

Review ~ The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed..

I fell in love with this book when I saw the cover, as it reminded me of the doll’s houses that I loved to play with as a child, and there is something uniquely clandestine about peering into the hidden contents of someone else’s life and being privy to their innermost thoughts.

The story begins in 1686, and we are introduced to Nella Oortman, whose arrival at the grand house, at the side of the Herengracht canal, in Amsterdam, is set to disturb the equilibrium of all who live within it. For Nella is the eighteen year old bride of the illustrious trader, Johannes Brandt, and her presence in the house is set to disturb the balance of power of its current chatelaine, Marin, Johannes’ elder and irascible older sister. When Nella is presented with a cabinet sized replica of her home, as a wedding gift, from her largely absent husband, she starts to uncover a set of household secrets which threaten to disturb the equilibrium of the house forever.

What then follows is a compelling and intricately woven story of scandalous deceit and scurrilous gossip which, when taken as a whole, allows a fascinating glimpse into the lives and petty squabbles amongst the social elite of old Amsterdam. Time and place is captured quite perfectly, and for the time I was reading, I was so immersed in seventeenth century life, that I had to forcibly bring myself back to the 21st century. There is much to take in, not just Johannes’ unusual relationship with his wife, but also with the way in which the house functions as a whole. Marin is an enigmatic figure, she is both controlling and uncontrollable but cares deeply for her brother and as reputation matters above all else, Nella soon learns to listen surreptitiously and to keep her own counsel.

Reminiscent at times of Tracy Chevalier’s, The Girl with the Pearl Earring, I can easily see this book being transformed into a stunning film. The narrative unfolds like beautiful cinematography and there are just enough layers waiting to be peeled away, so that when the final dénouement arrives, you feel complete and know that this is indeed a story well worth the telling.

A Highly Recommended read  for lovers of good historical fiction.

My thanks to the publishers Picador and to Sandra Taylor in the Picador Press Office 
for my copy of this book


1 comment:

  1. This one looks really good. Anything in the past.....


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