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chuntzy

The Miniaturist

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Newly-married 18 year-old Petronella (usually just Nella in the novel) comes to Amsterdam to live in her much older husband's splendid house.  He is a rich merchant often abroad because of trading in the prosperous overseas dealings of late 17th century Holland.

 

Nella's wedding gift is an expensive  dolls house.  In due course beautifully crafted miniatures arrive (anonymously) which, however admirable, also serve to disturb Nella.

 

Her unmarried Calvinistic sister-in-law who manages the house and its occupants is also unfathomable.  As is Nella's husband.

 

As this book is a combination of mystery/thriller and historical fiction I didn't know quite where to place it on the site.

 

All I do know is that Jessie Burton has done her research well on the era and writes good prose.  I felt very involved with the story and couldn't wait to pick it up every day. 

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I remember buying this when it came out in hardback last year. They had a dolls house display in Waterstones and an assistant saw me looking at the book and came over and gave me a gushing recommendation, so I bought it.

Enjoyed it , particularly the prose and description of old Amsterdam, but just couldn't believe in Nella. An 18 year old just come to the city and having to deal with major emotional shocks straight away and being so calm and strong. She seemed to me like a modern woman living in those olden times. Racism, homosexuality and women rights all come fast and thick and this country girl takes them in her stride. Just didn't convince for me.

Having said that, it's her first novel and for me that makes it very impressive.

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 but just couldn't believe in Nella. An 18 year old just come to the city and having to deal with major emotional shocks straight away and being so calm and strong. She seemed to me like a modern woman living in those olden times. Racism, homosexuality and women rights all come fast and thick and this country girl takes them in her stride. Just didn't convince for me.

Having said that, it's her first novel and for me that makes it very impressive.

 

Have to agree with you there, Clavain.  In fact, all three women in that house were more ballsy than you'd expect (or believe in) for that period. 

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I read this on a long train journey yesterday and couldn't put it down.  Jessie Burton's writing is wonderful and the picture she draws of 17th century Amsterdam is mesmerising and vivid but it ultimately left me feeling unsatisfied. 

 

The detail was marvellous but the charecterisation felt not quite right in several ways, firstly I agree that all the three main women were far too ballsy for the period, I found the scene where Nella discovered the truth about Johannes a bit of a cliché - that and several other scenes, including what Miren wasup to, seem to belong more in Eastenders than in a serious historical nvel which is what I think this is supposed to be.  But the biggest let down of all was the miniaturist, who despite being the eponymous character, just dwiindled away after a promising start into nothing.  I can't help feeling that if the miniaturist and the dollshouse had been taken out of the story entirely it wouldn't really have made a lot of difference.

 

So I did enjoy it but without that rush you get when you've just read a truly marvellous book.

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But the biggest let down of all was the miniaturist, who despite being the eponymous character, just dwiindled away after a promising start into nothing. 

 

I took this out of the library as an audiobook a couple of months ago, and enjoyed it - until it reached the end.

I thought I was listening to it a mystery story, but the big mystery - the one that gave the book its title - was left unresolved, and I am still disappointed with it.

I hope for a more satisfying resolution to her next book

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I've just read about a quarter of this, which I've had on my Kindle for a while, having heard the author interviewed about her new book.

 

It wasn't quite grabbing me, so I decided to read the thread here and the Amazon reviews. It seems that my reservations are shared by others, and I've decided not to perservere, because it seems as if I will be disappointed. I am fed up with intriguing first novels which end up being implausible or unconvincing with a disappointing ending.

 

It was interesting that Clavain had it enthusiastically recommended at Waterstones. One of the Amazon reviewers had been working at Waterstones and was made to gush about it to customers. I wonder how you get that sort of publicity / promotion for a novel?

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Read this book after some reasonable reviews but was disappointed. The setting was good but the events didn't seem to follow logic. Plenty of research but the characters didn't seem to fit.I would have liked to see the magical / miniaturist issues explored more. 

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Just finished it. The writing as others have said is truly wonderful. It's a pleasure to read a book where you can really feel immersed in the world that it portrays. I felt that the main characters were beautifully and sensitively drawn (and unlike most of you, I think quite believable. I feel that sometimes you do get thrown into situations where you just have to rise to the occasion and do your best, undoubtedly what Nella did). I do agree with everyone else that the Miniaturist herself is left unresolved. I also wanted to know what happened to the characters - how did they survive? An afterword would have been a good idea (assuming she's not going to add a sequel?)

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