Published in 2014, The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, is based in Amsterdam in 1686 and follows the marriage of Nella Oortman and Johannes Brandt. This book debut to critical acclaim and continues to be in the top 10 or recommended lists. I avoided it at first as the blurb really did not sell the story to me. At the time I was working long hours in the advertising industry and looking for lighter reads.
Nella marries the wealthy merchant Johannes in a country side wedding and later travels to his home. The house is dark and imposing and is the living space for her new husband, his sister and their two staff, Cornelia and Otto. Johannes virtually ignores Nella who becomes consumed with negative thoughts as she wishes he spend any time with her. To make amends Johannes gifts Nella an exquisite dolls house that replicates the rooms of their own home. To furnish the home Nella engages a Miniaturist who sends her tiny gifts that seem to prophesise the future.
I enjoyed reading this book except for the explanation for Johannes lack of attention for Nella. The reason felt a bit forced and put me off. I continued to read the book thinking it was just a note about his character, but it soon became the main storyline. I realised upon reflection that I must be a bit pedantic when it comes to historical telling. The reason (and I am deliberately not saying to avoid ruining the surprise for you) just wouldn’t have been dealt with such lack of care in the 1800’s. Johannes would have known that this secret would have consequences and would have been much more careful. I did love how the story was able to bring Amsterdam alive and having visited I found myself walking the streets too! I can see why at the time this story got such a response and the BBC turned it into a miniseries.
Have you read The Miniaturist? What did you think? Jessica xo