Where a Miniature House Can Tell So Many Truths: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

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The Miniaturist

By: Jessie Burton

Released: August, 2014 by Ecco

Length: 416 Pages

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction- 17th Century Amsterdam

Rating: Five Stars

Acquired: via publisher

What would you do, if at eighteen, you just get married to a man you hardly know? To a man who isn’t around? Nella Oortman is faced with those questions and more. When her husband finally returns from sea, he gives her the strangest wedding gift–a miniature replica of their house. Once a miniaturist is sought out to make the furniture, it is then secrets start to tally up. How does the miniaturist know? How does he or she predict these things? 

Taking place within three months in 1686 Amsterdam, The Miniaturist takes a deep look at what it was like for the working to high middle class at the time. Full of secrets, twists, and back-stabbing intrigue, this debut is not to be missed. Nella starts off as a small voiced, scared newlywed who is afraid of her older, much more out spoken sister in law Marin. With brilliant character development, and a more brilliant twist, the reader is taken on a surprise journey with these two women. Not to mention how the marriage goes! This book is full of plot twists that take you aback. You won’t expect a single thing that happens, which makes this book ever more engaging and fun to read.

Burton’s writing is fresh, imaginative,  and daring. With one of her plot twists, she goes there. Really, really goes there where most authors, established or not, would be hesitant or afraid to. But, not Burton. She takes it to the unexpected, especially for that time period. The way she did it was highly successful in my opinion. I was shocked, surprised, and not at all in disagreement with her choice. I was impressed with what she did, actually. That wasn’t the only plot twist where she pushed the envelope, either. She wrote one more thing, where in today’s time would not be too big of a controversy, but in 1686, big big big controversy. And, it worked! It wasn’t put in the story just to push our limits. It made complete sense.

I loved this book. I loved everything about it. The plot twists impressed me. The writing was astonishingly good for a first time author. The characters developed perfectly. The end was nicely open ended for the readers. There wasn’t a thing I could complain about. I was completely invested. It was hard not to be. The first page alone pulls you in by starting with a funeral for someone who apparently has no friends. You have to think who it is for. It’s that good. It pulls you in that fast. I’m going to say it. This book was one of my favorite reads of this year. It was that good. I can’t recommend it enough. It will pull you in; leave you wanting more. If there is one historical fiction novel you read this year, I honestly think this is the one you should read. It isn’t about Kings or Queens. Treason and the like. It is about people like us. Finally, a historical fiction novel we can relate to!

Unlocking the Secrets to the Miniaturist: Discussion and signing with Jessie Burton

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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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