A Prophetic Doll-house and a Strange Marriage – ‘The Miniaturist’ by Jessie Burton

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There’s no real reason why I chose this book as my first one to review on my new blog it was simply the book I last read. I picked it up in an Oxfam book shop for a steal.  It’s the first book I can remember reading set in 17th Century Holland. It was one of last years’ bestsellers and deservedly so, it is richly detailed but the plot isn’t weighed down by descriptive passages.

The book focuses on a young woman called Petronella married off to a rich and aloof man, Johannes, who is a prominent tradesman, travelling all over the world and leaving his young wife to the care of his bible-toting sister, Marin, who hides secrets in the leaves of her books and wears furs underneath her modest dresses. His wedding present to her is a large an mysterious miniature house; she hires a mysterious ‘miniaturist’ to furnish it. The miniaturist creations start to reflect the reality of Nella’s life. Mysterious packages appear on her doorstep with items and figures in, which include details that only later come to mean something. As Nella’s life and the life of her husband and sister-in-law start to spiral off track she craves the prophecies of the miniaturist more than she fears them.

This book explores themes of corruption, capitalism and the plight of minorities. It has a supernatural concept which turns out to be of simple human origins. This novel is not about the miniature house on the cover, it is about the people that are reflected in it – I could say don’t judge a book by its cover! The characters really do show that the higher you climb, the harder you fall.

Overall rating: 3/5

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