The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton

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I know I’m coming a little late to the party with this book. There’s been a huge amount of hype about it, it’s won several literary awards and topped lots of bestseller lists. I actually first became aware of it from reading this article on the author’s blog about the process of actually getting it published. I found the article very interesting (it’s certainly worth a look) but also the synopsis of the book sparked my curiosity and I filed it away in my memory for a future date. And then suddenly it was everywhere; shop windows, book reviews, bestseller lists and I put it straight to the top of my Christmas list. I would have gone out and bought it right then but books are expensive, hardbacks even more so. I stick to charity shop finds for the most part.

When I did get round to reading it it had a lot to live up to. I wanted to be truly addicted to it, unable to put it down. And it certainly did that. I started it on Christmas Day and was finished by the 28th.

The way it starts with a funeral before flying back in time to the months leading up to that day immediately reminded me of Luxe by Anna Godbersen, which was no bad thing in my book. But then the cryptic hints about there being much more to the Brandt household than there first seems had me hooked. I had to know the secrets of this family. And it was more that than the almost supernatural elements of the miniaturist which made me enjoy this book so much.

I’m usually really bad for skimming huge passages of text to get to the story but I felt very little reason to do so with this book, partly because there weren’t many length or unnecessary descriptions but also because I really enjoyed the style of writing. My favourite turn of phrase in the book, which I added to my list of best quotes of all time (yes I have a list of these. There is almost nothing I don’t have a list of), is ‘I do not mean to lose my temper. It slips from me and I cannot catch it.’

The pacing of the book in general was also really good. The only part where I found my mind wandering and my eyes lifted from the page was when they attend church as really, who wants to read a sermon word for word? Other than that though I think the little amount of time it took me to read it speaks clearly for just how gripping it was.

My biggest, perhaps only complaint would be with the ending. It fell a little short for me. I like to have everything explained, nothing left to my imagination, nothing overlooked. For me, there was no satisfactory explanation for the miniaturist’s abilities and insight into the family. But other than that, I loved it and it certainly wouldn’t stop me recommending it to everyone I know (which I already have been doing to the point of tedium).

Now I’m just hoping they make it into a film. I’m picturing Felicity Jones as Nella (though she’s a little old) and Daniel Craig as Johannes. Marin I have difficulty with though. I never fully formed a picture of her in my head as I was reading. Perhaps because her character changes so much throughout the book and Nella herself never really comes to understand her.

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