Book Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist
by Jessie Burton

Publication date: July 3rd 2014
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 435


There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . .

Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

Source: Goodreads


I’d been wanting to read “The Miniaturist” for a while after reading Jessie Burton‘s second book “The Muse” last year. I’ve seen quite lot of hype around this book and this was surprised to see that they had already made a BBC TV series based on the book – how did I miss that?!

Now I’m finished, I’m not sure that I understand the hype! “The Miniaturist” is over 400 pages long and it they really dragged for me. I found the story to be quite slow and it took quite a while for anything of interest to happen.
I didn’t really hate this book, but I was bored.

In the first few pages we meet 18 year old Nella Oortman. Set in 1686, Nella has been married off to a man she barely knows and is about to move in to his country home, miles away from her mother and family. As a wedding gift Nella is given a miniature version of the house she now calls home and she soon sets about finding someone to furnish it. When the pieces for the house arrive, they are beautiful yet uncannily accurate, making Nella question how the miniaturist could possibly know so much about the people around her.

The miniaturist is a mystery to Nella and to the reader, right up until the end and to be honest it’s still quite a mystery to me. Everything is kept very vague and I was kind of disappointed not to have a clear answer.

I was expecting to be gripped but instead I felt the story to be a little underwhelming in general. There are certainly some important topics covered here, exploring the societal views of the time but along with other reviewers of this book, I feel that some of these views were a little ahead of their times and perhaps unrealistic.

“But how right is it to kill a man for something that is in his soul?”

Overall rating: Again I’m underwhelmed by Jessie Burton, and I’m beginning to think that perhaps she’s not the author for me. “The Miniaturist” started well but couldn’t really keep me interested and its 400+ pages dragged on quite a lot which definitely didn’t help the situation. I didn’t hate it but I won’t be recommending this book to anyone in a hurry – 2 stars.

See my other reviews of books by Jessie Burton here:

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