Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Paperback:  416 pages                                                                                                 
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: June 2nd 2015 by Ecco 
Source: Local Book Club Choice.
First Sentence: The funeral is supposed to be a quiet affair, for the deceased had no friends.
Favourite Quote: “Every woman is the architect of her own fortune.” 
Review Quote: A fabulously gripping read that will appeal to fans of Girl With a Pearl Earring and The Goldfinch, but Burton is a genuinely new voice with her visceral take on sex, race and class . . . Burton writes great complex female characters (Observer)
Literary Awards: Specsavers National Book Award for Books Are My Bag New Writer of the Year (2014)Walter Scott Prize Nominee (2015)Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction (2014)Waterstones Book of the Year (2014)
My Opinion: The atmosphere of 17C Amsterdam is vividly and evocatively described in this beautifully written debut novel.  The characters and plot are all very mysterious and it was this suspenseful narration that kept me reading, because at first it took me awhile to get into the story. I enjoyed much more than I expected to and would recommend to all fans of historical fiction.  Have already added her second novel The Muse  to my reading wishlist. Will also be looking forward to the BBC One adaptation of Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist in three parts which will be aired in 2017. 

Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:

Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam—a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion—a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant.

“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .”

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 . . .

Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand—and fear—the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

Author Profile

Jessie Burton was born in 1982 and lives in London. She studied at Oxford University and the Central School of Speech and Drama, where she appeared in productions of The House of Bernarda Alba, Othello, Play and Macbeth. In April 2013 her first novel, The Miniaturist, was sold at an 11-publisher auction at the London Book Fair, and went on to sell in 29 other countries around the world. It was published by Picador in the UK and Holland in July 2014, and the USA in August 2014, with other translations to follow. Radio 4 commissioned it as their Book at Bedtime in July 2014. Her second novel The Muse was published earlier this year.

Photographs and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.

Goodreads - Author Profile    Amazon - Jessie Burton Page    Jessie Burton - Official Website

Picador - Author Profile.