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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Book Review: The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton Review

Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist has received some impressive accolades since its publication - both the Sunday Times Number One Bestseller and Waterstone's 2014 Book of the Year - and there's a horde of Goodreads reviewers who think it's the best book they've ever read. It's easy to say that my expectations were high, especially as I've read some incredible books that were also published in 2014. Unfortunately, they must have been a little too high as I found that ultimately, for me, this book fell a little flat.

The novel is narrated by teenaged Nella Brandt (née Oortman), who is settling into her new role as a wealthy Amsterdam merchant's wife in 1686. Unfortunately he seems disinterested by her and much of Nella's time is instead spent with his devoutly religious, intimidating and unmarried sister, Marin. Her husband gifts her a lavish doll's house as a wedding present, which Nella seeks to furnish with the help of a miniaturist she found in the 17th-century Dutch equivalent of the Yellow Pages. This miniaturist, however, seems to know much more about Nella's life than she herself does and continues to send parcels of miniature people and objects that seem to predict the real house's future.

I'm in two minds about this book, because some of it was riveting while (most of) the rest of it wasn't. The first two thirds were extremely slow but I couldn't put the final third down. Some of the writing is poetic and beautiful, while equally entire chapters can feel stilted with awkward simile after awkward simile. And don't even get me started about the ending. The book covers many 21st-century themes: women's rights, homosexuality, racism, religion. Anything topical, it's in there, which seems fairly unnatural considering the plot's date. There's an interesting overview into life in late-17th-century Amsterdam. The big issue, however, was that I never felt strongly connected to any of the central characters - I found Nella to be quite irritating in fact. By the time I'd finished the novel it was more of a relief than anything else because I wouldn't have to be annoyed by her any longer.

As I said, so many people loved this book, so don't let my review perturb you! Sadly it just wasn't for me. Have you read or do you want to read The Miniaturist?


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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Book Review: The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton Review

Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist has received some impressive accolades since its publication - both the Sunday Times Number One Bestseller and Waterstone's 2014 Book of the Year - and there's a horde of Goodreads reviewers who think it's the best book they've ever read. It's easy to say that my expectations were high, especially as I've read some incredible books that were also published in 2014. Unfortunately, they must have been a little too high as I found that ultimately, for me, this book fell a little flat.

The novel is narrated by teenaged Nella Brandt (née Oortman), who is settling into her new role as a wealthy Amsterdam merchant's wife in 1686. Unfortunately he seems disinterested by her and much of Nella's time is instead spent with his devoutly religious, intimidating and unmarried sister, Marin. Her husband gifts her a lavish doll's house as a wedding present, which Nella seeks to furnish with the help of a miniaturist she found in the 17th-century Dutch equivalent of the Yellow Pages. This miniaturist, however, seems to know much more about Nella's life than she herself does and continues to send parcels of miniature people and objects that seem to predict the real house's future.

I'm in two minds about this book, because some of it was riveting while (most of) the rest of it wasn't. The first two thirds were extremely slow but I couldn't put the final third down. Some of the writing is poetic and beautiful, while equally entire chapters can feel stilted with awkward simile after awkward simile. And don't even get me started about the ending. The book covers many 21st-century themes: women's rights, homosexuality, racism, religion. Anything topical, it's in there, which seems fairly unnatural considering the plot's date. There's an interesting overview into life in late-17th-century Amsterdam. The big issue, however, was that I never felt strongly connected to any of the central characters - I found Nella to be quite irritating in fact. By the time I'd finished the novel it was more of a relief than anything else because I wouldn't have to be annoyed by her any longer.

As I said, so many people loved this book, so don't let my review perturb you! Sadly it just wasn't for me. Have you read or do you want to read The Miniaturist?


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Post a Comment

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