The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton

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The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton

Post by Graham on Sun Jul 15, 2018 5:04 pm

Like the artisan of the title this book lures you and both tantalizes and threatens. This reclusive figure seems to know the hidden life of Petronella Oortman’s new family, secrets which could bring death to her new husband Johannes Brandt and ruin to his household. It includes Marin his sister, cold and domineering but with secrets of her own, Cornelia the maid a young woman with an unusual licence and freedom within its walls and Otto their other dark-skinned servant whose place beside his master outrages the god-fearing community of 17th century Amsterdam.
Despite his gift of a model of their townhouse Johannes is cold and distant to his new bride and only the arrival of some exquisitely crafted furniture and dolls for the model begin to lift Nella’s spirits. These miniatures and their elusive maker however soon seem to foretell the disasters that start rocking the family.

This is another book to dwell in. Burton’s recreation of the Dutch city and the attitudes of the time are thoroughly researched and immerse you in the difficulties young Nella faces as she desperately seeks to avert the looming disasters. There are shocks and twists that reveal the inhabitants to be prey to the gamut of human weaknesses. Brandt’s overweening pride and his sexual proclivities are the engine for a tale of revenge and a young woman out of her depth in a strange and intimidating milieu.

In two ways this book is representative of a welcome current in recent novels: a heroine who refuses to accept the rigid codes society seeks to impose; and a realistic resolution rather than a fairy-tale ending. Both are welcome. This is an engrossing and rewarding read.

Graham
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