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The Miniaturist: A Novel

The Miniaturist: A Novel

Scris de Jessie Burton

Povestit de Davina Porter


The Miniaturist: A Novel

Scris de Jessie Burton

Povestit de Davina Porter

evaluări:
4/5 (145 evaluări)
Lungime:
13 hours
Lansat:
Aug 26, 2014
ISBN:
9780062331878
Format:
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Descriere

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 life 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's gift helps Nella 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, beautifully written, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

Lansat:
Aug 26, 2014
ISBN:
9780062331878
Format:
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Despre autor

Jessie Burton was born in London in 1982. She studied at Oxford University and the Central School of Speech and Drama. The Miniaturist is her first novel.

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  • (4/5)
    You know you are reading good book when you can't put it down. You know you have read a good book when you finish it and you miss the characters and want to know what happened to them, wish you were still reading the book, that there was a sequel on the way....

    The Miniaturist is a multi dimensional novel that is part historical fiction, part mystery, part thriller. It is well researched, quickly paced, beautifully written. The characters all develop and grow as we get to know them, and we get to know them slowly, painfully slowly! The author teases the reader, dropping hints and clues as we learn more about each character and their story.

    The historical elements are fascinating and Burton has created a website and a Pinterest Board (see Will Brynes' review for links, and his amazing review) which offer photos of buildings, people and items mentioned in the novel. Google images also has more photos of the dollhouse/cabinet upon which the one in the novel is based - try "Petronella Oortman Cabinet House".

    The story mixes romance, friendship, a bit of magic, history, tragedy, and most importantly, the development and maturation of a young girl into a strong, confident woman.
  • (4/5)
    I have to admit that this book didn't grab me from the beginning. I almost bailed on it, but at the end of Part I the plot thickened and I decided to keep listening to the audiobook. I'm very glad that I didn't chuck it because it really turned around and I found myself trying to get as much listening in as I could. The title is a bit misleading because although the miniaturist plays an important role, she isn't the main character. I sometimes found myself wishing that Nella could do something, anything, to turn things around, but I realized toward the end that during the set time period, things would remain on the path. It is a beautiful story of self discovery and determination for Nella and just a bit heartbreaking.
  • (4/5)
    I started to get bored about 100 pages in and then everything changed. It was gripping, well written, but sad.
  • (4/5)
    Hopeful and lonely, Petronella Brandt arrives on the doorstep of her mail-away husband, ready to start her new life as a bride, homemaker, and eventually mother. Yet in her new house filled with secrets, the least of which is a dollhouse replica of her home, instead of being surrounded by bliss and love, she lives in doubt and worry. A thrilling, heartbreaking mystery that kept me turning the page even when my eyes were too blurry with tears to read the words, "The Miniaturist" is worth the read.
  • (3/5)
    Excellent job at evoking Amsterdam of that period but characters were lifeless. I had many questions about the miniaturist.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed this book quite a lot and had difficulty putting it down from about half way on. Not just a story about a doll house, The Miniaturist dives into history, culture, and a bit of suspense and intrigue. Surprised it hasn't been turned into a film yet.
  • (3/5)
    A somewhat confused novel. There was great world building and historical detail which I loved alongside deceptively strong female characters. On the less positive it seemed overly filled with social themes without enough exploration. Finally the ‘mystery’ of the miniaturist whilst allegedly driving the story forward left me cold. Plot in a Nutshell Nella, a rural Dutch girl of just 18 arrives at the home of her new wealthy merchant husband in Amsterdam in 1686. She quickly finds married life with an often-absent husband and sharing her new home with his abrupt sister and 2 servants challenging. As a wedding gift her husband presents her with a miniature cabinet of their home. As she sets about finding a miniaturist to help her furnish it she finds the items helping her better understand the confusing new world she had been thrown into. Thoughts Burton’s descriptions of Old Amsterdam seen for the first time through Nella’s young, naïve eyes are consistently excellent. I felt as though I walked the streets with her and could smell the cold, dank air coming from the Canals. She also brought to life the constricting environment created as the Reformation embedded and became uneasy bedfellows with the Guilds and merchants who made the Netherlands so wealthy at the time. Small details helped here and Cornelia, the chatty household maid is a vivacious tour guide. This novel covers a lot of social themes – we see sexism, religious intolerance, overt racism and homophobia through this book. These are legitimate themes for a historical novel as well as a contemporary oneUltimately I can’t help but feel this book was mis-represented. Whilst hinted at there is no magic to the story of the miniaturist and the mystery is not well explored despite Nella’s near obsession with both the items and the hidden identify.
  • (5/5)
    One of the most original books I've ever read. Absolutely fascinating.
  • (4/5)
    Inspired by a miniature of an Amsterdam house in the Rijksmuseum, this is a story of a young village girl thrust into the home of a wealthy businessman in the 1680s - as his wife.How she feels is skillfully conveyed by the story telling, with the reader sensing much of the unease that she must have felt. No answer to questions, odd food, no concessions to her former life, and in effect a missing husband. As a story, it's a great escape, with answers to questions slowly revealed.If one wants to think more about the sub-text, the author appears to be on a mission to deliver some messages. As others have pointed out, this is where there are questions. How does one with a modern world-view (or a world-view 400 years on) relate to attitudes and customs in the 1600s? I have one minor quibble as well. The city was under the influence of the Reformation, much more the continental reformation (Calvinism) than what was happening across the channel. I have to check, but I would have expected that in Amsterdam there would have been more community church going, and more evidence of a renewed personal interaction with the fruits of the Reformation than this book suggests. We read in the book of a single priest (a roman catholic office), of patchy church attendance, and an overall suggestion that everyone was a hypocrite - following Mammon rather than God. Not sure that is an accurate or fair representation of life in Amsterdam.
  • (3/5)
    Postmodern writing despite the 17th century Amsterdam setting, a bit of mystery and magic involved in the dollhouse, but it never comes to fruition as part of the plot.
  • (4/5)
    I liked, but did not love The Miniaturist. The characters seemed less fully formed in this novel than in Burton's second, The Muse. There would have been less tension in the novel without the miniaturist, but she's also a peripheral character. I kept reading because I wanted to find out how/whether Marin and Petronella resolved their relationship, and who the miniaturist was.Set in 17th century Amsterdam, this novel follows 18-year-old Petronella as she seeks to make sense of the relationships in her husband Johannes' household, as well as learning the ways of the city. When I asked myself, "what was the point of all that?" at the end of the book, the answer I came up with is that the novel was about the ways people seek to escape society's strictures, and how they can't.
  • (4/5)
    Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist tells the story of Petronella, or Nella in short, a girl from the Dutch Assendelft that gets married to the rich merchant Johannes Brandt. She moves to his big house in Amsterdam and lives there with Johannes' sister Marin and Otto and Cornelia, two servants in the house. The novel is set in the 17th century and covers a relatively short time span from October 1686 until January 1687. As Johannes is rarely home Nella does not see much of her husband. They do not even consume their marriage, which is very hard on Nella who wonders what might be wrong with her. One day, Johannes brings home a large cabinet which is an exact copy of the house and is his wedding present to Nella. Nella does not really know what to do with the gift, so she starts buying miniature items to put into the cabinet. When little figurines of the inhabitants of the house arrive without her having ordered them she wonders about the identity of the miniaturist who sends them.What I find most striking about the novel are the relationships between the characters. The relationship between Nella and Johannes is very one-sided at the beginning with Nella wanting to live the life of happily married wife with all its facets and Johannes being away all the time and not even talking to her. When he takes her out to the public one night, Nella finally thinks their marriage is going to start, but again her hopes are crushed. In the meantime the relationship between Nella and the two servants gets ever warmer, but the relationship to Marin, Johannes' sister, remains mysterious. Marin is a very dominant character who does not let anyone come to close to her. An important part that complicates the relation between Johannes and Marin as well as the relation between Marin and Nella is the Meermans family. The reader learns that Frans Meermans and Marin have been a couple when Marin was still young, but the relationship has ended abruptly. Agnes Meermans, who inherited a sugar plantation in Suriname, has her husband Frans charge Johannes with selling the sugar. Generally, there are many secrets in the novel which are only slowly revealed to the reader. Suffice it to say at this point that you really want to find out what lies behind all those secrets and find out about Marin and Johannes Brandt's backgrounds.In the reading process I found myself having more and more questions about what was really happening. Why does Johannes not live a normal life with his wife? Does he love her? What role does Marin play as the lady of the house? Why did her relationship to Frans Meermans end? Who is the miniaturist? How does the miniaturist know what to send Nella? Are the things that are sent some kind of prophecy of the future? It is these questions and many more that I wanted to find answers to and this was the driving force behind my reading. The larger issues that are explored in the novel, that is the role of women in 17th century Amsterdam, for instance, do also provide for an interesting angle on the story. While the story that is told is not completely my cup of tea, I do think that this novel has its merits and leaves you with a sense of a worthwhile reading experience. 3.5 stars.
  • (5/5)
    What an exciting story. On the one hand, it's all about the prediction of the miniaturist, who keeps Nella in suspense with her life-like figures, but on the other hand, the inhabitants of the real house have many secrets that only become apparent over time. Nella a young girl who was married to a rich merchant comes from the country to the big city Amsterdam. Much is alien to her here and she struggles to find her way around the house, as it is still led by her sister-in-law. From her husband she gets a dollhouse, which resembles the house where she lives now. Over time, figures, animals and objects come along. Nella soon realizes that these things can predict the future by understanding the signs. Amsterdam is an economic metropolis and Nella's husband plays an important role. But he underestimates his power, because his secret is that he is gay, which at the time was considered a serious crime. Her sister-in-law also has a big secret. While Nella is initially considered the inexperienced 'land mouse', she develops untold powers to the end and finds her place in society.
  • (4/5)
    Excellent story! I was fascinated by the time and place, and all the characters. The author has a knack for keeping the reader guessing. I agree with another reviewer who said the end was a bit disappointing - although it was a decent ending, I certainly want to know what happens to the characters next. Will they be able to survive and maintain the home, etc.? Spoilers Coming:I actually felt one of the weakest parts was the miniaturist herself. I do not feel we got any answers about her. What is her relationship to the characters. Is she a seer or just preternaturally observant? I'm not sure how she could have known some of the things she knows without psychic abilities... And what becomes of her? Why is the small house that she leaves at the grave the small house with five figures, "where she had always intended it to lie"? I think there are more questions than answers in this part of the story.End of spoilersOtherwise, I found this to be a fine story that kept me wondering and thinking.
  • (4/5)
    Amsterdam 1686, eighteen year old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house to start a married life as a wife to wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. The household also includes Johannes sister Marin and servants Cornelia and Otto. As a wedding gift Johannes gives Nella a cabinet replica of their house for Nella to furnish.I saw that this book as been adapted for tv to be shown in December so I decided to read it. The story is very much in the same vain as Tracy Chevalier and would appeal to readers who enjoy her books.I thought this book was quite enjoyable. I enjoyed the descriptions of Amsterdam and did get a good sense of place. I also liked the characters in this tale and at times, especially early on in the book was reminded of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Nella especially I enjoyed following around and watching how she stsrted as a quiet younng girl who through everything had to become a strong young woman.What lost me a bit was the miniaturist herself. She was a very elusive character in the story but as the title of the book suggests to me the main part of the story. I don't really know her part in the story, and as a reader I'm left feeling with a lot of questions which are not answered. The story for me was slightly let down because of this. This book sounded very promising and although I enjoyed it I am left feeling I needed to know more. The story for me became a family saga, secrets and predictable surprises. Overall an ok read.
  • (4/5)
    A poignant story full of twists and turns set in 17th Century Amsterdam. Very promising debut from Jessie Burton.
  • (3/5)
    Not sure if I liked this or not, despite it being quite an absorbing read. The story seemed to go downhill after Nella moved in to her husband's home , though the additions to the dollshouse were quite mystifying, even though it was not fully revealed at the end.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed this book. Probably wouldn't have picked it up personally so glad to have had it 'given' to me to read.Without going into too much, it was well written and did indeed keep my interest. I wondered about the accuracy of the depiction of the time. I like that it touched on race, sexuality, greed, wealth, class etc. But, I just didn't get the whole miniaturist thing. What was that about? Why was she there? What is the relevance? I felt like it was a side line to the actual story. Initially I thought it was going somewhere and then it didn't...All in all, worth reading.
  • (4/5)
    A fascinating book set in 17th-century Netherlands. One of the striking things about this book is the merchant wealth, fueled by East Indies trade, which was so common in Amsterdam, and the varying reaction of the Dutch to their wealth (from meals designed to be frugal to fiery sermons from religious leaders). This is a fascinating period which deserves more fiction. In addition, this novel presents a compelling tale with an uncanny miniaturist delivering well-timed and pointed object to a new bride, many of which offer hints of the direction of the developing plot. Very enjoyable reading and highly recommended.
  • (2/5)
    I kept getting the impression that the author wanted me to know how assiduously researched a book this is. Little facts were thrown in randomly to attest that Burton had done her homework. So kudos to Burton on an exceptionally well researched novel. Beyond that this fell flat for me. The events of the book were extraordinary but the characters were dull as dirt and the reveals concerning Andreas and his sister were not reveals at all -- they were obvious very early on. Also, while I often enjoy a splash of magical realism in my books, here the story of the doll house seemed forced and beside the point. The book was just fine, but no more. It does, however have a gorgeous cover for what it's worth.Edited to move down from 3 to 2 stars. I had a friend ask about the book, and as I was discussing it I had to admit that this book was not average, it was subpar.
  • (5/5)
    It's exquisite like fine china. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton is also a well patterned garden maze. A reader might find themselves lost in streets because there are many lives to live here. More than one life story lives in each character. It is uncomfortable to read about one household's days of chaos.A large cabinet house bought by Johannes, the husband, for his bride, Petronella, will become more than an upright toy. For a while, it is a child bride's safe haven. The household is full of puzzles and whispers. So are the streets of Amsterdam. In this novel, words and deeds are like "water." What is spoken or done inside flows outside and is judged.Very interesting is the seemingly magical appearance and disappearance of the miniaturist. A girl or woman who in some way gains the hearts of the women in the city. She is like an invisible fortune teller. She can foretell the death of a much loved family pet. Was the miniaturist real or just my imagination? Her comings and goings left me perplexed. One thing real for sure is the stiff religious garments worn by the neighbors and Pastor Pellicorne. Without rose colored glasses one can see that it comes down to who owns the worse bag of sins It's The Scarlet Letter of our time.I am left wanting to know more about Amsterdam: It's history. It's people. Perhaps, this is the skill of a good author. She or he leaves us wondering where does truth begin and where does it end. Is there a need to know the truth of a place? Sometimes.The novel begins in the 1600's. The characters seem real. Their emotional pain overpowering. With all of the anxiety there is time to breathe for a moment. This is when there is a quiet wish made that doll houses were real because toys never judge. Toys only give pleasure.
  • (5/5)
    An amazing story of a woman in the 16th century in Amsterdam. She is married to a man who sells sugar and other exotic wares he gets by exploring. It is soon apparent that her husband is different, but there is no way she can realize how her life will be turned upside down by dark secrets in her new home.
  • (5/5)
    I grabbed this book in reluctant desperation from the library, expecting it to be a slog and not up my street at all. Well, I never - I bloody loved it, and my Saturday housework plans have gone totally up the left as I've been totally absorbed in the last 200 pages I had left to finish.Set in Amsterdam in the 1600s, a young girl arrives at her new husband's house full of hopeful expectations for her marriage, only to be bitterly disappointed by the icy reception that awaits her from her new family and household staff. Receiving an inappropriately childish wedding gift from her husband of an ornate doll's house which is an exact replica of her new home, as the house is furnished art begins to imitate life, and the secrets of the house start to become unlocked.This was a great read. The characters were complex and mysterious, I loved the setting of old trading Amsterdam, and the plot had me guessing from the first page to the last.This seems to be a Marmite read which surprises me. I felt it had great pace and consistently good writing, and I enjoyed the sub-plots which knitted together well to a great conclusion.5 stars - a great read, and I will be keeping an eye out for The Muse from Burton now with some interest.
  • (2/5)
    It was just OK. A fair amount of build up that led to a lot of disappointment. The ending just felt like a let down.
  • (3/5)
    Dark to begin with this book had potential but after 60/70 pages it began to drag. The 'shocks' are not really shocking and the ending was lackluster to say the least. Shakespeare comes to mind ..................'Much ado about nothing'. I am I any more enlightened by The Miniaturist now, having read the book? I'm afraid not. The Miniaturist is still elusive. The protagonist in the story is one of the few (and the servants) likable characters in this story. Unfortunately, this book was a brave effort from a first time writer that threatened to be interesting but fell flat.
  • (4/5)
    This is an historical novel set in the 17th century Amsterdam of shipping magnates and narrow Protestantism. While it's not great literature, it is skillfully written. I was absorbed in the read and finished it off in one day.When Nella Oortman enters the Brandt household as the young bride of its head, Johannes, she enters into a bewildering world of strained relationships and close-kept family secrets. To keep her entertained and occupied, Johannes gives her a cabinet house, the exact replica of the one in which she is currently living. She hires the only miniaturist listed in the Amsterdam business directory to supply some items for the house. When the first delivery arrives, the package contains not only the items ordered but figures of household's inhabitants. Nella tries to meet the miniaturist, but no one answers her knocks at the door.Unsolicited packages of miniatures continue to arrive and uncannily presage events within the household. Menace and mystery hang over the novel and Nella's life. I found the characters intriguing and well drawn, and the Dutch setting was interesting. All in all, an enjoyable escape.
  • (3/5)
    Not as good as the Coffee Trader but an interesting read none the less.
  • (4/5)
    An intent perspective of life in Amsterdam in this era. A magical tale with equal parts of realism and mysticism. Full of drama and lyrical in prose, Most enjoyable,
  • (3/5)
    I won this book from GoodReads first-reads giveaways in exchange for an honest review.I wanted to like this book and I think I did however, it did not give me a sense of closure. An 18 year old Nella marries Johannes Brandt through an arrangement made by her mother. Moving to Johannes house she experiences alienation and loneliness because of an inattentive husband and his over domineering sister. When Johannes presents Nella a gift of a miniature replica of their home, she reaches out to an obscure miniaturist to create furnishings for the 'house'. This is where I feel the author became sidetracked in her goal. The events that occur throughout the story as a result of Nella's relationship with the miniaturist appear to make the book more of a supernatural genre, however, the ending of the book does not back that up and no real explanation is given for these events which are the backbone of the plot.In addition to a contradictory plot, characterizations are not very deep and are rather predictable such as the sister-in-law who is portrayed as a put-upon and much maligned individual. Johannes is the most complicated character in the story and the book was most enjoyable when he was in the scene. The author's style of writing was crisp and clear although I think she needed to have more direction and focus on which genre she wanted to go with.
  • (5/5)
    the audio book is superbly done. a pleasure to listen to.