Friday, September 19, 2014

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton


Back Cover Blurb

Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam—a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion—a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant.
”There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…”

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office—leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist—an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand—and fear—the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

Review
by

Oh my goodness! This is one exceptionally incredibly good book! I cannot rave about it enough! The best way to describe The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton is to call it heartrending novel with a great deal of mystery and a touch of magical fantasy. Rich with emotion and mystifyingly dark, this unique tale gripped me from the start and kept me turning each page, anxious to find out the secret of the miniaturist and the fate of the ever-evolving three-dimensional characters.

The novel is set in 17th century Amsterdam and vividly depicts the social and economic living standards of the time. Eighteen year old Nella arrives in the city to the home of Johannes Brandt with whom a marriage has been arranged. But her groom is an enigma, odd in many ways, and distant, even though he is kind to her. Soon after the wedding, she receives a gift of a miniature replica of their home complete with furniture and little people resembling her, Johannes, and his sisters. She begins corresponding with the mysterious miniaturist, but is unable to discern who they are. The miniatures are not what they seem. In fact, they foretell the future. And it is this that adds tension and a great deal of conflict to the story. It is truly disconcerting. Through the miniatures, several dark secrets and tragedies occur, and Nella finds herself in a desperate frenzy to save those she loves.

This is a clever, magnificently plotted novel. Although the opening chapters can be a little slow, with every page, the story unfolds and becomes ever more gripping. The dark secrets are revealed bit by bit, in a shocking way, so that one cannot help but race to the end. The story not only stirs up emotion, it shocks and sweeps the reader away with its opulent storyline. A truly magnificent novel, brilliantly written. 

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