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The Miniaturist

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  19,374 ratings  ·  2,517 reviews
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 Ma ...more
Hardcover, 435 pages
Published July 3rd 2014 by Picador (first published January 1st 2014)
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Laci I think people get "review" and "book report" mixed up. Reviews aren't meant to be like your book report from grade school. I'm with you, that…moreI think people get "review" and "book report" mixed up. Reviews aren't meant to be like your book report from grade school. I'm with you, that irritates me too.(less)
Bek Without giving too much of the plot away, it addreses the contextual disclosure/'coming out' and the associated grief and dance of the time. Also,…moreWithout giving too much of the plot away, it addreses the contextual disclosure/'coming out' and the associated grief and dance of the time. Also, finding intimacy and love in a world where homosexuality is criminalised.(less)

Community Reviews

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I love you. I love you. From back to front, I love you.

this is an remarkably polished and transporting debut novel that has been compared to sarah waters.

which comparison alone should be enough for you to give it a shot, but i'll continue to blather on a bit in case you need more encouragement.

it takes place in amsterdam, in 1686, during that city's golden age, when it was incredibly wealthy because of its trading capabilities, but there was still a great deal of social progress to be made in t

really really beautiful. I was going to give it 4 stars but then I reread the first chapter after I finished AND IT WAS SO GOOD IN CONTEXT.
Jeffrey Keeten

as the stars of heaven for multitude….

How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance,

and your burden, and your strife?”

Deuteronomy 1:10-12

 photo PetronellaOortman_zps8077d70d.jpg
The Miniature Petronella Oortman

Petronella Oortman is barely eighteen years old in 1686 when she marries a rich merchant named Johannes Brandt and moves to his house in Amsterdam. It is unnerving to move so far away from her relatives and all the people she has known her entire life, but it is also exciting to finally escape the boredom of the country and
Will Byrnes
The death of Nella Oortman’s father left the family in difficult straits, saddled with unexpected debts and a declining standard of living. But the widow finds a suitable match for Nella, in a successful Amsterdam merchant and trader. As he travels extensively, the wedding is a quick affair, and it is a month before he will return to his home. In October of 1686, Nella arrives there, in a very exclusive part of the city. She is greeted by her new husband’s sister, Marin, who makes her feel as we ...more
Lucy Bignall
I found this book very confusing and the hype of it, even more so.

For one thing, I found it very readable - very hard to put down.

On the other hand, I found the characters very unbelievable. I thought it highly unconvincing that an eighteen year old girl from the country would have had such wisdom and assurance and grown to have such acceptance and respect for Johannes as quickly as Nella did - especially as there was very little record of the two of them having much to do with each other, unti
3 stars is a difficult rating for me. When I look at the vast number of 3-starrers I've got sitting on my shelves, there is a definite divide between ones I sped through at the time but that left no lasting impression, ones that I did enjoy but just found too silly or amateur-ish to rate higher, and ones that I was highly anticipating and just failed to live up to such lofty expectations. Of any category, The Miniaturist probably falls into the latter. I had it pre-ordered back in March, read qu ...more
Review originally published at Learn This Phrase.

At some point within the past couple of years, I've lost the passion I used to have for historical fiction. Looking back on the historical novels I've enjoyed in recent times, I can see that they all have some element of another genre or type of book I haven't yet got sick of - the ghost story, the unreliable narrator tale, something with just a sprinkling of fantasy. There was a time when I used to specifically seek out historical novels by conte
3.5 stars.

Set in Amsterdam in the late 17th century the Miniaturist is an interesting story. We are drawn to a city of hidden opulence and religious repression.
Eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman enters a prosperous, but loveless marriage, with the merchant Johannes Brandt. When her husband presents her with a replica cabinet house Nella finds that she is living her life throughout the miniatures within the cabinet.

This is an intriguing story which I found very well written and quite dark. I had di
Wendy Darling
3.5 stars Quite lovely in parts, but I found this strangely lacking in emotional complexity. It also bears the weight of the legacy of many other stories before it that touch on similar plot elements or themes, so that two of the three most central mysteries don't come as surprises at all. And the third? The third is left unexplained.

A bit more of a review to come.
B the BookAddict
Oct 25, 2014 B the BookAddict rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Goodreads


Honestly, at pg 115, I wanted to stop reading it. I do tire of novels with a ‘Mrs Danveresque’ character. Burton is using lots of flowery turns of phrase but lacking in the story-telling department. This feels so unpolished, almost like a first draft, it lacks substance.

17th century Holland is ripe with historical detail and features but Burton has not used this to her advantage. And what are pattens? You may not know. Yes, you can Google it but should you need to? Not terribly muc
Rebecca Foster
With her debut novel, Burton follows in the footsteps of Sarah Waters and Tracy Chevalier, filling her seventeenth-century Amsterdam canvas with rich period detail and a suspenseful plot. The Miniaturist is flawlessly researched; like a Vermeer painting, it is rich in detail but subtle in construction.

However, the story does rather tip over into melodrama, with a trial and an unexpected pregnancy taking up much of the second half. The magical realist element, so significant to start with, is nev
This book is the fastest selling debut novel since 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. Eleven big name publishers battled it out for the rights to its publication. It is one of the most hyped releases of 2014 and is currently outselling J K Rowling. With this in mind, I came into it with fairly high expectations. I was not disappointed. It was everything I was hoping for, an intriguing mix of mystery, love, secrets, betrayal, identity and revenge, all set against the backdrop of 17th century Amsterdam.

The s
Leah Beecher
Oct 03, 2014 Leah Beecher rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
This book was very annoying. I kept persevering, oh yes, I did. Chapter after chapter, night after exhausting night when common sense was telling me to go chuck the book across the room and get some much needed sleep. Why? Because I wanted to know who the bloody Miniaturist was of course! Spoiler alter: you never really find out, not really anyway. It is very vague. I even went back and read the cryptic first chapter upon finishing the thing think maybe that would help me to somewhat "get it" No ...more
In many ways this is a beautiful book, with gorgeous descriptive language that really brings the scenes in Amsterdam to life. It's rare that I find an author who can describe without over-use of adjectives. There is a lot to admire.

However ultimately I felt this book was like a series of rolling waves which never really broke - the tension seems to grow and swell, then it comes to nothing. Even the dramatic events, of which there are several, lacked impact.

I think the reason I ultimately found t
This debut novel triggered an all out bidding war at last year's London Book fair with no less than 11 publishers fighting for the rights. Can this book ever hope to live up to all that hype? The story is set in Amsterdam in the late 17th century, the heyday of the Dutch East India Company, when bribery and corruption was commonplace.

18 year Petronella Oortman, who's family has recently fallen on hard times is due to meet her new Husband Johannes at his home but is shocked to find that he is not
THIS REVIEW HAS POTENTIAL SPOILERS (nothing explicit), I just feel like I cannot explain my mixed feelings on this book without going a tiny bit into spoiler territory.

The Miniaturist is about Nella, an eighteen-year-old girl in 17th century Amsterdam who is thrust into an arranged marriage with an older man and has to cope with living in a household of closely guarded secrets, puritan values and in-laws and servants who both intrigue and terrify her.

The premise is compelling but I feel that a p
Set in the repressed, puritanical world of Amsterdam in the 17th century, 18y old Petronella "Nella" Oortman arrives from the country at the grand house of her new husband, wealthy merchant, Johannes Brandt. A more or less arranged marriage, Nella met Johannes for the first time before her wedding and is looking forward to getting to know him better, however when she arrives he is not at home and she is shown to her room by Johannes hard nosed sister Marin.

Johannes remains an enigma to Nella. Ov
From page 245: Are there more little bombs in there she cannot see, ready to explode?

From the Online Etymology Dictionary re the word "bomb":

'1580s, from French bombe, from Italian bomba, probably from Latin bombus "a deep, hollow noise; a buzzing or booming sound," from Greek bombos "deep and hollow sound," echoic. Originally of mortar shells, etc.; modern sense of "explosive device placed by hand or dropped from airplane" is 1909.'

This novel is set in 17th-century Amsterdam and the above is
Imagine receiving a miniature house – a replica of your own – as a wedding gift from your new spouse. Not exactly diamonds, is it? What if miniature figures began appearing as small play versions of the real thing: your furniture, family members, and even pets? Add some suspense and mystery and you have Jessie Burton’s debut novel, “The Miniaturist”.

“The Miniaturist” is a creative and unique novel based in 17th century Amsterdam following the life of Nella who is newly married to Johannes, a me
I couldn’t resist the idea of a peek into the miniature house at the center of Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist. I was curious to see what role it would play in this debut historical novel. In the fall of 1686, eighteen year-old Nella, comes to Amsterdam to marry the successful and well-known businessman in the sugar trade, Johannes Brandt. It is soon apparent that this is a marriage of convenience for Johannes. He presents Nella with an exquisite miniature cabinet. Not quite understanding the pu ...more
The silence bellows down Nella's ears, pain bursts from the centre of her heart. Humilation spreads from one black spore to thousands, and the hurt that has been hibernating finally finds a voice.

In some ways this reminded me a bit of Girl With a Pearl Earring, mostly because of the time and place, but also because of the feeling of suppressed passion, and the slow unveiling of layers of secrets. I liked the narrator's voice, it felt fresh and different. It was also very interesting to read abou
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
What a magnificent story! So moving and beautiful. Exceptionally written and exquisite in every single way possible. I am not normally a fan of historical fiction, but this novel swept me away in it's beauty, darkness and secrets. Tremendous.

This book is the fastest selling debut novel since 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. Eleven big name publishers battled it out for the rights to its publication. It is one of the most hyped releases of 2014 and is currently outselling J.K. Rowling. I do however think
This was my first read for 2015 and I'm so glad I started off with a winner! I was completely taken in by this story. I'm actually surprised it doesn't have a higher rating. I think some of the reasons why people didn't care for it, were some of the same reasons I liked it. It definitely left some things unanswered. It had a mysterious almost spooky feel to it at times that I enjoyed. It completely held my attention during a long car ride and I did not want to put it down. While most of the char ...more
The novel contains a lot of detail about Amsterdam of the time, and creates an atmosphere that pervades the story. Nella, is a country girl, who comes to Amsterdam, after marrying Johanes a wealthy merchant. Through the course of the novel which covers just a few months, we see Nella develop into an independent woman despite her young age of 18. The "miniaturist" of the title is a mysterious figure who makes tiny furniture, people, and various accoutrements for a "doll" house Nella is gifted by ...more
Violet wells
One thing I learned from reading this novel is that clearly most readers are better at suspending disbelief than I am. At times the plotting of this book was so preposterous and highly excitable that it seemed to me like the literary equivalent of pantomime. A wild man in pantomime clothes stabs a painting, then he stabs a dog, then he in turn is stabbed by an equally exotic piratical character, he seems to be dying but then suddenly reverts back to amateur dramatics – the entire scene, aspiring ...more

Could have been great, the premise sounded really intriguing and unique.. Unfortunately, the story was plain nonsensical and filled with tedious characters who were obsessed with sugar.

-I couldn't stand Nella, she was an irritating, passive, embarrassing and insipid main character. She was also a right thicko, she missed so many obvious things that were right in front of her. How on Earth did she miss her husband being gay? Or Thea being Otto's daughter? Why did she let Marin treat her l
Of good birth but penniless, eighteen-year-old Nella travels from the countryside to join her new husband, the wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam, the story has overtones of "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" and Nella's brittle sister-in-law Marin is at first reminiscent of Rebecca's Mrs Danvers. Yet there is originality in Johannes' odd wedding gift, a nine-roomed cabinet house modelled on his own. To fill this with figures and objects, Nella hires the servic ...more
Hailed as a publishing phenomenon with rights sold in 30 countries, "The Miniaturist" is proof that historical novels continue to capture publishers' imaginations. With comparisons to "Birth of Venus" abounding, it's easy to see why, too.

Set in repressive 17th century Amsterdam - an irony in of itself, given the city's modern reputation - where staunch religion and hypocrisy vie with rapacious commercial enterprise, the story centers on Nella, an eighteen-year-old girl thrust into an arranged ma
I was pretty excited about The Miniaturist when I was approved for it. It's received a lot of good reviews, good press, and a lot of buzz around the publishing squabbles over it, and it's had comparisons to a lot of books I have enjoyed, including Sarah Waters' work. Unfortunately, I really didn't get into it. My only real interest was the story of the little miniature house: the bits of mystery and so on actually just... got on my nerves, really. That's why I took so long to review it -- that f ...more
At the half way point I nearly gave up on this book altogether. By then I had dealt with the fact that the story was a bit thin and the characters either unpleasant or unfathomable. I even coped with (view spoiler) However then came the scene with Jack and the dog which was way over the top and simply ridiculous. I let the book rest wher ...more
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Jessie Burton studied at Oxford University and the Central School of Speech and Drama, where she appeared in productions of The House of Bernarda Alba, Othello, Play and Macbeth. In April 2013 her first novel, The Miniaturist, was sold at an 11-publisher auction at the London Book Fair, and went on to sell in 29 other countries around the world. It was published by Picador in the UK and Holland in ...more
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