The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist


I had heard so much about this book that I couldn’t wait to open it and start reading. I really didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t want to read up on the plot in case I ruined anything for myself. Before starting this book I knew a doll’s house featured and that it had an element of mystery surrounding the miniature house however I never expected the plot to turn into what it was.

This book is a real exploratory read about living in Amsterdam during the late 1600’s. Again even this setting I couldn’t have predicted, I found this era very interesting including the harbour and shipping elements of the plot. The protagonist of the story is Petronella, a young girl who has just married a successful businessman in the shipping industry. She arrives at his door to find he lives with two servants and his older, stricter sister. Nelly hasn’t seen her husband, Johannes from the day she married him and is anxious about what to expect for her future. It isn’t long before her circumstances begin to change and he comes home with a wedding gift of a miniature house, identical to the one she now lives in. Originally she finds this gift a tad insulting as it is primarily a gift for a child but to avoid offending him she promises to furnish it. Upon finding a ‘miniaturist’ she begins to furnish her little house, but the attention to detail and the accuracy of the  pieces make Nella curious if not worried.

The plot accelerates from here and there are many elements to this plot from materialistic, relationships, ethnicity, religion and social class. It was a riveting read and one I couldn’t wait to read from one night to the next. I was genuinely shocked to find this is Jessie Burton’s first novel as it is so well researched and an open door into the culture and life in Amsterdam at this time. The characters in this book are so well written and each possesses their own unique personalities and qualities. I didn’t really have a favourite character throughout because over the course of the plot the characters developed and the reader sees a little bit more of their personality and what made them that way. I started to respect the characters more for their actions and why they acted the way they did in each circumstance.  It’s almost like Jessie Burton sets the reader up to think a certain way about a character and as the novel progresses I almost felt guilty for thinking someone was selfish, rude or outspoken.

This book is so well written and compliments the pace of the book from one page to the next. I love how Jessie Burton has included some Dutch words and references to make the plot more authentic. There is even a glossary at the back to help with the definition of certain words which I found very handy and helpful in following along with the plot. The glossary isn’t necessary to understand the main storyline but it helps to find out the exact definition of certain words. The book is divided into manageable chapters which I found to be a lovely aspect especially considering I read this book before bed. I was able to squeeze in a few chapters before getting really tired and having to put the book down but the chapters meant that I finished reading at a natural stopping point rather than a book that isn’t divided in easy sections for the reader.

I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars on goodreads, I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it to anyone with even the slightest interest in reading it. It was nothing like what I expected, I could never have predicted the plot before reading it. In a way I am sad that it has ended, I think I am suffering from a book hangover, so much happened in this book and now it’s over and I don’t quite know what to do with myself. I can honestly say that I will be watching for anymore work released by Jessie Burton in the future, she definitely seems like an author determined to produce an addictive, thought-provoking and well written plot.


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