“The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton (2014) – book review

I SO wanted to love this book. At the time of purchase, Waterstones had just named it “Book of the Year 2014”, and it certainly takes jacket cover of the year with its enticing glimpse into the doll’s house. The blurb on the back likewise sells the story even more – so what a shame to feel so disappointed by the read itself. I don’t know whether it was because of the way it’s written, or because it somehow felt convoluted in style, but I just couldn’t claim to love it.

We are back in Pearl Earring and Tulip Fever territory, and again the master / servant / wifely roles are all common ground, but I felt this book just missed the mark. Too many unconvincing twists married with too many elements unresolved? Too much of a stretch for the 16 year old protagonist to act with such maturity as the story unfolds? I can’t really put my finger on it, but I did feel let down and under-convinced by all the hype.

On a far more excited front, can’t get over having stumbled upon Petronella Oortman’s original doll’s house in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in between “The Night Guard” and all that blue and white Delft pottery. The genuine article is quite extraordinary by dint of its very size, quite apart from the intricacy and details of each room, and the exquisite marquetry of its tortoiseshell casing.

If you get the chance to see it in situ, don’t miss the opportunity. History in the making – and maybe I should cast another eye over “The Miniaturist” before putting it back on the bookshelf to gather dust…

Read in September 2014.

Rated : 7/10

Winner of the Waterstones Book of the Year 2014, Winner of the Specsavers National Book Award for Books are My Bag New Writer of the Year 2014

Images taken from here and here.
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7 Responses to “The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton (2014) – book review

  1. FictionTimes.com says:
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  6. Denise says:

    I too felt disappointed by this! I felt like the busy-ness of plot was covering up a lack of soul. It felt inauthentic – like the author hadn’t *really* understood the mechanics of 17th century Holland and how that would infuse her characters with being, but that it was more of a superficial thing – “here is a good looking place to set a book”.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It has done so well, though, and many people are raving about it. Will be interesting to read future works by the author to compare and contrast, won’t it…


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