The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
This was handed to me and described as being comparble to The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern. I loved The Night Circus. And this, yet again, proves my point that we need to stop selling books as being like other books. Because I went into this book with seriously high expectations that, while not entirely dashed, were never quite satisfied.
For a first novel, this was a lovely attempt and was an interesting read. But something just never quite hit the mark for me. I love magical realism, but this book seemed to spin a number of loose threads that were never tied up in the end. The story just felt disconnected, like a number of the characters were not existing on the same plane. I was never fully invested in Nella, Marin, Johannes, Cornelia or Otto. There was something hollow about the characters and their motivations (especially the motivations of The Miniaturist herself) were never clear... or even interesting. I'm a reader who enjoys a little ambuiguity in a story. I don't need everything spelled out for me. But this didn't read like Burton was intentionally leaving out pieces of the story. It just felt that this story was not quite fleshed out adequately.
I wouldn't not recommend it. It was an entertaining read... but I'm not sure I'd recommend it to critical readers. This would be a great book club book. Where the real focus is pinot grigio versus pinot noir (and I'm not judging. I've been a member of those book clubs before and they're fantastic!) There's just not enough meat in this story for a high-intensity reader. However, there is an inkling in this book that we can expect some interesting things from Jessie Burton in the future.
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 splendid new home is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, and leaves Nella alone with his sister, the fearsome Marin.
Nella's life unexpectedly changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish it, she engages the services of a miniaturist an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie ways.
Johannes's gift helps Nella pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand and fear the escalating dangers around them. 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?