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Winner of the Specsavers Book of the Year AwardNational Book Awards New Writer of the YearWaterstones Book of the YearThere is nothing hidden that will not be revealed On an autumn day in , eighteen year old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp tongued sister, Marin Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift a cabinet sized replica of their home It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real life counterparts in unexpected ways Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart pounding suspense, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth Jessie Burton was born inShe studied at Oxford University and the Central School of Speech and Drama, and has worked as an actress and a PA in the City She now lives in south east London, not far from where she grew up This book was absolutely fascinating to me It opens in 1686 in Amsterdam Nella aka Petronella Oortman, an eighteen year old farmer s daughter has arrived in Amsterdam to begin living with her new husband, Johannes Brandt She has spent little time with him in the past only long enough to play the lute for him and then a rushed marriage sanctioned by her family Brandt is a wealthy merchant and world traveler dabbling in the buying and selling of exotic goods from various ports around the known world.When she learns that her husband is not at home to greet her and his sister, Marin, a maid, and her husband s man servant are the only occupants of the enormous house, she begins to wonder what she has fallen into Cornelia the maid is as unfriendly as her new sister in law And Otto, is a man like Nella has never seen before in her life, with his dark brown skin and soft wool hair None of them makes her feel welcome but ensconce her in her own sumptuous bedroom that does not include anything of her new husbands Only then does she realizes she won t be sharing a marital bedroom with Johannes.This book is well written and contains many secrets and mysteries that both the protagonist Nella and the reader strive to solve One of the biggest mysteries involves the miniaturist whose tiny carvings begin to fill her dollhouse like cabinet The miniatures seem to have a life of their own and maybe trying to tell Nella something.I stayed up late to read this book and woke up early to finish it Don t let the historical date scare you off This is as modern a story as anything that happens today. This little motto is one of many elliptical messages sent out by The Miniaturist, whose sylph like presence in the novel traces the growing pains of Nella Brandt during the Dutch Golden Age The trope of the doll s cabinet is cleverly conceived as it allows Burton to let the feminist coming of age theme to mould itself The narrative works as delicately as a prism, its tortoiseshell and pewter shades refracting the irregular, intimate jumps of an interior life as the miniaturist authors Nella s story, opening up into little compartments whose inhabitants seem to shape shift according to the joys and tragedies that beset them in real life Living among the sumptuous fabrics of Johannes home, her struggle is to turn them into tapestries of hope, with no one to weave them, she says, but ourselves Male homosexuality, miscegenation and the struggle for female independence become obstacles in a city where the tradition of the Gebuurte , a sort of 17th century Dutch neighbourhood watch scheme, pries into the private lives of individuals who, like Johannes, try to reach out for something his own tongue can never achieve.Burton is very good at bringing into the centre ground the importance of sugar People s prosperity depends on it, yet it symbolises the sickly indulgence of a city saturated in its own opulence against a leering backdrop of Protestant austerity Amsterdam becomes a terrible victim of its own commercial success Riddled with hypocrisy, the city drinks from its own poisoned chalice with guilds, merchants and magistrates all vying for position as Nella sets about discovering her true woman s self beyond the cabinet that her husband brings her as compensation for an unconsummated marriage The Miniaturist, in turning her into one of the puppets, in the end allows her to see into the compartments of her own life, so that she becomes the most powerful magistrate of them all in command of the thing that really matters, her own life as a woman This is a brilliant debut novel, but the men float too freely, never properly pinned down to those vital dynamic encounters with the crises of their own lives, eluding and escaping instead of engaging with them Two mottos, the one stating that Everything Man Sees He Takes For A Toy Thus He Is Forever A Boy and the other that Every Woman Is The Architect Of Her Own Fortune together tend to nullify each other and prevent the evolution of the male characters Fight to emerge, but relish the ending It s beautifully done. This is the story of Nella who is married off to a rich man in Amsterdam, she rarely sees her husband in the beginning, he obviously has secrets which we find out fairly quickly, and then there is Marin her sister in law, she is very unfriendly and also has her own secrets to hide Her husband buys her a dolls house which is a replica of her own house and soon she starts receiving items for it from a miniaturist whose identity is unknown I enjoyed aspects of this book, however I took ages to get into the story, it s very slow, and also a very sad, dark read I was also very disappointed with the ending as the main question of the book was left unanswered i thought It could have done with 1 chapter to the everything together. Set in 17th century Amsterdam, Nella aged just 18 arrives in the city to start her new life with the handsome husband she has barely met She is excited and curious to escape her poor and predictable country upbringing to live in the comfort of a successful merchant s home and to meet his household Her husband barely acknowledges her however and it seems as if there are secrets and a history that she us not to be privy to Her husband does buy her a sumptious replica of the house she now lives in with the instructions that she is to fill it with miniture furniture as she sees fit She finds a miniaturist who soon sends eerily accurate tiny copies of items in the house, and even of the people who live in it It is as if he is watching Nella and even predicting the futurehow can this be This book draws you in from the first page Nothing and no one is as they seem on first appearance and every character has secrets and mysteries to share This might be set in the 1600s but the themes are no different to today, greed, love, lust and hypocrlsy to name a few.