the miniaturist

On the jacket:

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . .

Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

I have to admit, when I bought this back in the summer of last year, I was initially drawn to the gorgeous cover, pretty floral endpapers, and the matching bookmark that came with it at the time. The story sounded interesting, but this was an impulse buy based mostly on the sheer beauty of the book.

The Miniaturist is set in the 1680s and, for that reason, I was a little wary when I started reading as I don’t usually enjoy historical fiction. This was really well written, however, giving enough historical detail to fix the story firmly in its time period, without turning the book into a history lesson. I found myself hooked within the first couple of chapters.

Burton’s characters are wonderfully complex and there is clear progression for each character over the course of the novel. With a well-paced and intelligent narrative, this was a delight to read. There’s a reason this was one of the most talked about debuts of 2014.