Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

I was chatting to Charlie @ The Worm Hole about The Miniaturist on Saturday while we met up for the day in Brighton. I had it seen so many people read and love it, that I was fairly certain I was definitely going to avoid the hype.

However, as I happened to have a Waterstones gift card given to me for my birthday, and I happened to find myself in Waterstones one day not long after, I thought what the hell, it shall be mine.

And I loved it.

‘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 . . .’ GoodReads.

I wasn’t expecting the empowerment, and that The Miniaturist isn’t the mythical character they appear to be.

19 year old Nella, the Oortman’s and their household are all misfits, enhanced by the power and opulence of Amsterdam. The miniaturist enabled Nella’s transformation from meek country girl to the head of a household and her neighbors from confident liars to unstable mortals.

As Nella grows into her life as an Oortman, the miniaturist appears to know more and more about their lives, almost predicting the events that occur. Amsterdam is a cultural hub, rival to London and Lisbon and trade centers in the city, from sugar to slaves.

One by one this unconventional family is pulled apart, destroyed by what they helped to build. However left behind is hope, hope for the future for them and for the role of women.

I read The Miniaturist quickly and intently, it was thoroughly enjoyable. Occasionally the actions feel…, unlikely, but that won’t rip you from the story. However, the moments that felt unreal where the moments that made me decide that this novel was pleasurable in the moment, but perhaps not a book I would read again.


Definitely worth the read though, it pulled me straight out of a reading slump into reading heaven.

Have you read The Miniaturist (or perhaps I should be asking if you haven’t)?

10 thoughts on “Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

  1. I am pleased you enjoyed this and the hype didn’t ruin it for you. I read this last month and loved it. Although now you mention it perhaps not a book I would go for a re-read of either. For me perhaps too dark a read to do again.


  2. I haven’t read this actually! The hype I’ve been hearing has been quite mixed — some people have loved it, but enough people (including you, if you’re not planning to ever reread it!) have had reservations about it that I’m not sure it’s going to be the book for me.


    1. I think you’d enjoy it but wouldn’t love it. I could be wrong, but judging from what I’ve seen you read and write about I think that would be the case. Hopefully you would enjoy it, the main reason I wouldn’t re-read is because I don’t think I’d get much more from it.


  3. “The miniaturist enabled Nella’s transformation from meek country girl to the head of a household and her neighbors from confident liars to unstable mortals.” – Case in point on the ‘learn from the opinions of those you trust’: I missed that idea and you’re absolutely right, that does occur.


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