The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

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It really is a magical story, despite being packed into the strict confines of 17th century Amsterdam, and a little on the creepy side.

Petronella or Nella, as she is referred to in the story, is a young girl from a house of good repute. She has travelled to Amsterdam to live with her new husband and his family.

Unfortunately first impressions of her new surroundings are less than welcoming. Her husband Johannes isn’t even home, her sister-in-law Marin is quite abrupt and hostile, and the maid speaks to her as if she were her equal.The Brandt household is quite liberal in the sense that they treat Otto the dark-skinned man servant as one of the family.The rest of the Dutch people are insulting and abusive towards him.

Nella is confused by her husbands odd behaviour. He doesn’t want any physical contact or any emotional exchange, and he avoids her as much as possible. It isn’t until she stumbles upon Johannes and his flavour of the month that she understands why he is so distant towards her.

Nella slowly comprehends that everything in the house, and the actions of the household members, evolves around keeping Johannes safe. His secret can destroy himself and everyone around him, which is exactly what happens.

Nella tries to stop the tragedy from unfolding, a difficult task because the Miniaturist is not only one step ahead but also predicting the events. Neither of them can stop the inevitable from happening though.

Burton has created a fascinating mixture of the brutal reality of life, the strict confines of society and the morbid magical world of the Miniaturist. I would like to see the Miniaturist and her story unfold in another book.

The why, the who and the how still remain unanswered. The reader only gets a slight taste of the mysterious creator, and I for one would like some more.
I received a copy of this book via Edelweiss,

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