Tag: The Miniaturist

The Muse by Jessie Burton- Book Review

I read The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (her impressive debut), which I enjoyed.  The Miniaturist is the story of a young woman who is married off to an older man in 17thC Amsterdam.  He, and his household are odd and secretive and we spend the book trying to figure out what’s going on. At the same time an odd miniaturist (someone that makes miniature doll’s house furniture) keeps leaving miniature versions of things and people in the house.  The gimmick of the miniaturist never really worked for me, the story of the family was interesting enough. Continue reading “The Muse by Jessie Burton- Book Review”

Books of 2015

So I wanted to read 10 books this year, how did I do?

1.This Book Is Full Of Spiders by David Wong

Anyway, it’s two in the morning and we’re taking turns pissing off of the tower (rather than going at the same time, because we weren’t raised by wolves).

2.The Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey

I don’t mean to pry, but saving people is my calling.

3.Frankenstein by Mary Shelly

So strange an incident has happened to us that I cannot forbear recording it…

4.Dr Who: The Seeds of Doom and The Deadly Assassin by Philip Hinchcliffe and Terrance Dicks

A monstrous, hybrid creature lay on the bed, half human, half vegetable.

5.The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Every woman is the architect of her own fortune.

6.Ghostwritten by David Mitchell

The act of memory is an act of ghostwriting.

 7.Yes Please! by Amy Poehler
Plus, I am forty-two, which is smack-dab in the middle. I haven’t live a full enough life to look back on, but I am too old to get by on being pithy and cute.
8.The Narrow Road To The Deep North by Richard Flanagan
The Australia that took refuge in his head was mapped with the stories of the dead; the Australia of the living he found an ever stranger country.
9.The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Dr Marinus was the first Chinese person I ever met, apart from the ones at the Thousand Autumns Restaurant where me and Brendan were sometimes sent for takeaways if Mam was too tired to cook.
It looked like it was going to be 9, but I managed to read my 10th book The Bees by Laline Paull in the last week of the year!  Woo!!

Books of 2015 So Far

Well we’re 6 months into the year and my reading so far has been rather woeful.  Generally, I only read when I’m traveling my bus or train, mainly the train as you have more time and space.  But I often sat with my work colleagues on my way to my old job and since April I haven’t commuted by train, instead I just take a 15min bus to work. I’m hoping that blogging about reading will force me into in!

So here are my books so far, you can click the link to read my review:

This Book Is Full Of Spiders by David Wong

Anyway, it’s two in the morning and we’re taking turns pissing off of the tower (rather than going at the same time, because we weren’t raised by wolves).

The Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey

I don’t mean to pry, but saving people is my calling.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelly

So strange an incident has happened to us that I cannot forbear recording it…

Dr Who: The Seeds of Doom and The Deadly Assassin by Philip Hinchcliffe and Terrance Dicks

A monstrous, hybrid creature lay on the bed, half human, half vegetable.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Every woman is the architect of her own fortune.

And my current book is Ghostwritten by David Mitchell.  I liked Cloud Atlas by him but I really liked The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet which I recommend if you found Cloud Atlas’s structure tough going.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

P1000014I bought The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton with a few other books when I finished my last read, I threw a bunch in my online basket to get the offer on free shipping.  I had seen this book in the shop at the train station many times, when it popped up to buy I read a short extract and found myself quite intrigued as to what happened next.

The novel was inspired by Petronella Oortman’s dollhouse now at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

The Plot

The book is set in the Amsterdam, in the 1860’s where Dutch trading was booming and 18 year old Petronella (Nella) has just married the middle-age trader Johannes Brandt.  She arrives at her new home and her husband is absent, instead she is greeted by his stern and pious sister, the overly-familiar maid Cornelia, and former slave turned man-servant Otto.

When her husband returns he is distant but presents her with a present; a doll’s house which is a replica for their own.  Nella orders some miniature items to furnish it but the mysterious miniaturist sends tiny replicas of the items and people in the house.

As Nella begins to learnt the truth about her new husband she has to decide whether to stay with her new family or return home. And then it all goes a bit crazy at the end.

The Critique

I found the book compelling and easy to read, not the chore of some of my previous reads. The tension in the house and the anguish of the family was interesting, and I actually wanted to know what was going on.  However, the stuff with the Miniaturist felt a bit like it was tacked on at the end to give the book an odd hook.  Whilst Nella was going through some serious ‘stuff’ she was still wondering what the Miniaturist was doing or going to like a teenager with a crush.

I think perhaps Burton was trying to keep the mystery by not fully explaining the motivations of some of the characters actions but at times it just made things seem unbelievable.  I feel like I didn’t know enough about life in 19th century Amsterdam to fully understand why certain events were significant.

It’s also quite weird because the book takes place over the course of 10 months and much of the juicy revelations have already been revealed by month 3 with some of the others seemingly a little obvious to me.  It seemed like to too short a time frame.  I guess the point is that, for Nella, her fortunes and future change incredibly quickly but for me it seemed she hadn’t changed that much despite saying she had.

Verdict

A good read, especially on holiday or the bus, but not earth shattering.  See ‘The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet’ by David Mitchell for a better tale of Dutch history.