The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton

'The Miniaturist' was a satisfying and weird historical fiction set in 17th century Amsterdam. Nella Oortman is the new wife of Johannes Brandt, but her life is not what she expected it to be. Her sister-in-law dictates everything in the household and Nella feels that her life is more restricted here in the city then at the backwater estate of her childhood. 


Johannes is an unusual husband in that he doesn't seem to take much interest in her, not even visiting her in the night. Instead, he gives her an extravagant house cabinet and instructs her to have it furnished. Despite the tinge of condescension in the gift, Nella places an order with the one miniaturist listed in Amsterdam and things really start getting strange.


The prose of this book was lovely, and I enjoyed the reveals. For the most part the book felt true to the period, but I would have enjoyed a lot more description on the methods used in crafting the miniatures such as the furniture making/restoration in 'The Goldfinch'. In all other respects I liked the descriptions of the household and daily life.  I wish there had been more time spent on developing Nella and Johannes' relationship, their bond was crucial to the last act of the story and I wasn't buying it. As for the fantastical elements in the story...I felt there was a lot left unresolved, but it didn't bother me. This is one of those books where the central mysteries of the book made it hard to put down, but didn't need to be explained at the end.