On September 12th, I had the opportunity to meet Jessie Burton, debut author of The Miniaturist at the Barnes and Noble in Tribeca. She was in conversation with a blogger, Maris over at Slaughter House 90210. My eyes were all on Jessie Burton. As I loved reading her debut novel about a high middle class family in 17th century Amsterdam, I was excited to hear her speak about her novel: what motivated her, why she chose to write about a working class family rather than a more wealthier family, the motivations of the characters and the like. Although I didn’t like the person she was having the discussion with, I found Burton’s answers fascinating. But, you’ll just have to wait for that. First, she did a reading for us.

As I had already read the novel about a week or two previously, I was familiar with the chapter she chose. She decided to read the chapter called “The Gift”  where the protagonist, Nella, approaches her cold sister in law. They discuss tautly their places in the house–Marin putting Nella in hers. Even though every part of the book is good, I did think this was a great choice to read. I was at once drawn back into the story; drawn back into the muddled relationship of the two women. How neither really understood the other; nor, really wanted to. Nella wanted to fit in. but Marin would never let her. The chapter also touches on feminism, which is a big part of The Miniaturist.

When it got time for the discussion part, I was immediately impressed with how well Burton handled herself; and the somewhat insipid questions she would occasionally get from Maris. She talked about the inspiration behind the miniature house that Nella received as a wedding gift early on in the novel; which was based on a similar miniature house owned by a woman of the same name in the 1800s I believe. Burton also talked about how she hates how her book is being referred to as historical fiction because she doesn’t see it as such. Yes, it is based in an early century. But, not based on historical people. It’s based on people that could easily be people of today. With problems and relationship woes that could easily translate to today’s time. Without giving anything away, with the direction one of her plot twists goes, although it goes in a brutal, drastic direction, it still can and does happen today. Although, not in the exact direction, but very similar. She hits many relevant points while still writing in a past century. I agree with her about not classifying it as historical fiction, although I have. Why? I’m not so sure anymore.

What I was happy she touched about in her discussion was feminism, not just in her novel. She talked about it in a whole; from when she was acting in a male dominated world, to novel writing, and to society. It was great hearing her opinions. She was very well spoken and educated on this topic.

I was so excited that I got to ask TWO questions. I was a giddy school girl. I won’t say what I asked because it was totally spoiler included, but it was awesome. I tried to hide the spoilers and she revealed them. It was great. When the signing finally happened, I almost lost it. I was so happy to meet her. I talked to her for a couple of minutes; raving mad about her book and such of course. It was great. If she comes to a town near you, go visit her! She is great to meet.

 

Sorry about no pictures. My phone died that day. 😦

*Book review coming soon*

Happy reading! Thanks for stopping by.

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