Jessie Burton’s debut novel is exquisite and an utter delight. If you like Donna Tartt, The Miniaturist will surely be your next addictive read.
(Very) short summary: A young girl gets married off in 17th century Amsterdam. Weird stuff happen.
Nella Oortman finds herself torn from her loving poor family and placed in a rich household, where her husband barely pays her any attention and the other members of the house are crude and mean. Her husband gives her an extravagant cabinet, an exact replica of the house they live in, as a gift and soon strange things begin to happen. This plot thread is only the glue, however, that holds all the strands together.
The Miniaturist is indeed a mystery (I’ve seen it classified as a crime novel!) but, more than that, it’s core is about a lot of things: female empowerment, the right to freedom, greed, economic power, sexuality, white supremacy, love, friendship and much more.
Burton’s language is so melodious it almost demands being read – or sung – out loud. There is a rhythm to every sentence, every scene, every chapter and not a word wanders astray. Her characters are engaging, even if not always likeable, and even the worst of them are human and may be sympathised with on some level. And the plot is ever-surprising and unpredictable in every step.
This story is heartbreaking and simply impossible to put down. Readers of Donna Tartt and Charles Dickens will love it, I’m sure, and if I felt bold enough I would call this a soon-to-be classic. I for one cannot wait for Burton’s next novel.
Next review will be of S. Usher Evans’ Alliances (part 2 of the Razia Series)