There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…
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…
Nelly is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realises 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?
Author: Jessie Burton was born 1982 and is an English author and actress. She has so far published two novels, The Miniaturist and The Muse. Jessie Burton graduated from the University of Oxford. She has worked as a PA in the City of London and she lives in South-East London.
My thoughts: I read this historical fiction novel a couple of months ago. Indeed, I literally devoured its 424 pages…I loved this story immensely.
First of all, I had been attracted by the cover of the book and, after reading the summary on the back, I really wanted to read it because the place and the period interest me.
The Miniaturist is a very good historical novel that cleverly combines intrigue with particular destinies and the history of a society and an era. I would say that this novel is ambitious. I really enjoyed being immersed in the golden age of Amsterdam: the prosperity of the city and the Dutch East India Company, the unlimited enrichment of the merchants. Puritanism dominates the city and obliges everyone to hide feelings and to guard against any misconduct. People have to keep their secrets closely to themselves. In reading this book I often had in mind the paintings of Vermeer, which I admire so much.
This fictional novel tells the story of Petronella Oortman, aka Nella. Nella is an open-minded girl and with an imaginative and dreamy disposition.
In 1686 Petronella Oortman has just married. She is only 18 years old and her husband is the handsome and rich merchant Johannes Brandt, an important man in the commercial community and 39 years old.
She arrives alone at her new home and is greeted coldly by Marin, the sister of her husband. Marin is a prude, a rigid old maid who has no intention of leaving the running of the house to Nella. In this house there are only two servants, which is surprising for that of rich man such as Johannes. There is Cornelia, the insolent and familiar servant, and Otto, a black man, a former slave “saved” by Johannes.
Nella becomes quickly bored. She is lonely, unoccupied and ignored by her husband, except when the latter offers her an extraordinary gift: a miniature house that is a faithful recreation of their opulent home on the banks of the Herengracht.
Marin gives her a book/guide where all the shops in Amsterdam are listed so that Nella can order items to furnish her miniature house. Nella orders three small objects from a miniaturist. They are perfect reproductions, but soon more objects arrive without having been ordered and their precision seems to show that the one who manufactures them knows the house and even the secrets of its occupants. The miniaturist finally becomes an obsession for Nella.
The bonds between Marin, Nella and the two servants will become closer, the women will have to face the events that trouble the household with strength. How will everyone turn out? More dignified or meaner and baser?