Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Miniaturist-Jessie Burton

Miniaturist-Jessie Burton
the facts
satisfaction: up
pages: 400
gender: F
nationality: UK
year: 2014
Nella Oortman arrives in 17th century Amsterdam as the wife of a local merchant, Brandt. But nothing is as she expects-the household is an opaque monolith of secrets and the city is more hospitable. But things change when the miniaturist gets involved.

I was pretty primed to like this. I love it when material culture reveals secrets and mysterious craftsmen. Amsterdam is its own character here, an oppressively hypocritical one, for whom one must be perfect on the surface. This is something Nella doesn't understand-she is driven by curiosity, by her idealism to know more. It's hard not to like such spirit even if sometimes it's a little anachronistic. Then the miniaturist comes in. The works are described delightfully and the whole mystery of why the Brandt household, all of its components, are the way they are unfolds in such a well-paced engaging way that this ended up a delight as a journey. The ending is bit...it's hard to describe without giving it away. It's too pat? too anticlimatic? Neither is a good descriptor but both come close.

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