Rambling about books

Book review: The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office–leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist–an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand–and fear–the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction? Goodreads.

Book cover from Goodreads
Book cover from Goodreads

Growing older does not seem to make you more certain, it simply presents you with more reasons for doubt.

Ugh! I can’t believe reading this book feels like a chore to me. Wait! On second thought, I think I can. The telltale sign was there right from the first few chapters; I found the book hard to digest, but I dismissed it thinking that I’m just not used to seventeenth century Amsterdam. As the story progresses, it became clear to me that it is not only the seventeenth century Amsterdam that was difficult for me to understand, but the whole shebang; the story, the characters, the twists and turns, even the ending!

I really wanted to like the book, I do. The author did a magnificent job in doing her part to research what life was like in seventeenth century Amsterdam, and at the beginning the story did seem promising, even though the characters were already frustrating to begin with. But, the more I go with the book, the clearer it became to me that this was definitely not my cup of tea kind of book, historical fiction it may be. Even with the promise of something as mystifying as the dollhouse, in the end a two star was more than enough for this book.

The story, ah where do I even start? I thought this was going to be interesting I mean judging from what the book told you, why would it not be interesting. Until you began to read the book. First, I thought this was about a coming of age kind of story, what with Nella being an 18 year old bride coming to live with his husband’s family in big city Amsterdam, alas it was not, although one can see some changes in Nella throughout the book. Second, I thought this was about something sinister between Nella’s husband and his sister, judging from their strained and tense relationship; alas it was not, although parts of where things go wrong were courtesy of their strained relationship. Third, I thought this was going to be some thriller slash horror story, what with the miniaturist seems to be able to foresee the future (or seems like it); alas it was not thriller or horror for everything that seems scary was only a figment of Nella’s easy assumptions on things. Fourth, I thought this was a story about women taking control living in a world run by men, what with the allusion of women make their own fortune bla bla bla; alas it was not, even though eventually Nella seems to be capable in handling all the mess. Fifth, my frustration grew strong at this crap about the miniaturist only to end with nothing???? Nothing! Nada! Seriously, nothing! No closure about the miniaturist, no explanation on what the significance of having the miniaturist in the story (for the love of everything holy, THE MINIATURIST was the title of the book!!)

Simply put, I’m just confuse; Not in the way that I’m confuse and I don’t understand the story;

I’m confused at what actually the author really wants with the story.

It seem like the author was just stringing words along and hoping somewhere along the way the story ends. And while the story did end, it really was anticlimactic if not frustrating because I felt tricked! It really was a story about everything and nothing.

Oh I may be going to overuse the word frustrating on this one. Seriously, not one character from this story that is not frustrating (okay, maybe Cornelia, Otto and Hanna were not frustrating). Nella, our dear main character was already the bane of my existence during my time reading this book from the first chapter. This girl really was no more than a pawn and I’m disappointed that she ended up being the main character; even with her character’s development, nothing could save this girl from doom had the story kept on going. Utterly useless character, if you asked me.

Look, I’m not even going to break down every single one of my frustration towards the characters in this book; it’ll take pages and and stringing of words that’ll end up pointless.

Point of the matter is that the characters were totally not believable!

Really no more than scattered names in a story that held no significant whatsoever, couldn’t even bring any emotion out from (save from my frustration at how such character came to be).

Honestly every time I’m giving out bad reviews about a book, I feel bad. Why? Because for an author to come up with a story and weave words into it took a lot of hard work, and who am I to just bash it just because it is not to my liking? But, just because I didn’t like the story, does not mean I hate the person, it may just be one book that is not to my liking.

Having said that, I still would not be recommending this book.


Rating: ⭐️⭐️☆☆☆

Title: The Miniaturist

Author: Jessie Burton

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Goodreads link

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