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

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18498569

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. ūüė¶

*Book review coming soon*

Happy reading! Thanks for stopping by.

Waiting on Wednesday BEA Style

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Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, where we can share upcoming releases that have us excited!

For my Waiting on Wednesday, that I normally never do, I am doing it BEA style and will be listing the top six books I am hoping to snag a copy. I need to clear some shelf space for all the books I will hopefully be getting for myself, not including those I am picking up for friends.

Here goes nothing.

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  1. Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer: If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be  at home in New Jersey with her sweet British  boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching  old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing  him in the library stacks.

    She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

    But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

    Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss. 
  2. 20306804

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang: On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road. 

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High‚Äôs most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force‚ÄĒLiz didn‚Äôt understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn‚Äôt understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect?

3.                                                                                                                  18465503

Dark Aemeilia: A Novel of Shakespeare’s Dark Lady by Sally O’Reilly: ¬†The daughter of a Venetian musician, Aemilia Bassano came of age in Queen Elizabeth‚Äôs royal court. The Queen‚Äôs favorite, she develops a love of poetry and learning, maturing into a young woman known not only for her beauty but also her sharp mind and quick tongue. Aemilia becomes the mistress of Lord Hunsdon, but her position is precarious. Then she crosses paths with an impetuous playwright named William Shakespeare and begins an impassioned but ill-fated affair.

A decade later, the Queen is dead, and Aemilia Bassano is now Aemilia Lanyer, fallen from favor and married to a fool. Like the rest of London, she fears the plague. And when her young son Henry takes ill, Aemilia resolves to do anything to save him, even if it means seeking help from her estranged lover, Will‚ÄĒor worse, making a pact with the Devil himself.

 

4.                                                                                                        11373953

Green Girl by Kate Zambreno:¬†Green Girl¬†is¬†The Bell Jar¬†for today‚ÄĒan existential novel about Ruth, a young American in London, kin to Jean Seberg gamines and contemporary celebutantes. Ruth works a string of meaningless jobs: perfume spritzer at a department store she calls Horrids, clothes-folder, and a shopgirl at a sex shop. Ruth is looked at constantly‚ÄĒsomething she craves and abhors. She is followed by a mysterious narrator, the voice equally violent and maternal. Ruth and her toxic friend, Agnes, are obsessed with cosmetics and fashion and film, with boys, with themselves, and with each other.¬†Green Girl¬†is about that important and frightening and exhilarating period of being adrift and screwing up, a time when drunken hook-ups and infatuations, nervous breakdowns, and ecstatic epiphanies are the order of the day.

5.                                                                                                     17453303

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King:¬†WOULD YOU TRY TO CHANGE THE WORLD
IF YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD NO FUTURE?

Graduating from high school is a time of limitless possibilities‚ÄĒbut not for Glory, who has no plan for what’s next. Her mother committed suicide when Glory was only four years old, and she‚Äôs never stopped wondering if she will eventually go the same way…until a transformative night when she begins to experience an astonishing new power to see a person‚Äôs infinite past and future. From ancient ancestors to many generations forward, Glory is bombarded with visions‚ÄĒand what she sees ahead of her is terrifying.

A tyrannical new leader raises an army. Women’s rights disappear. A violent second civil war breaks out. And young girls vanish daily, sold off or interned in camps. Glory makes it her mission to record everything she sees, hoping her notes will somehow make a difference. She may not see a future for herself, but she’ll do everything in her power to make sure this one doesn’t come to pass.

 

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The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton:¬†“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed‚Ķ”

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 world 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’ gift helps Nella to 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?

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