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The Miniaturist

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  114,977 ratings  ·  12,282 reviews
Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam--a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion--a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant.

"There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . ."

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published August 26th 2014 by Ecco Press (first published July 3rd 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 irritat…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)
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Ann The whole book is a puzzle, and nothing seems to be resolved. Nella has started to take control of her own life - in a mere 4 months. That's seems to …moreThe whole book is a puzzle, and nothing seems to be resolved. Nella has started to take control of her own life - in a mere 4 months. That's seems to be the plot.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  114,977 ratings  ·  12,282 reviews

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Lucy Bignall
Jul 30, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Oct 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-owned-read

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.
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
Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it

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
Apr 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Leah Beecher
Sep 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Amalia Gkavea
''But words are water in Amsterdam, they flood your ears and set the rot''

When you visit the Rijksmuseum, one of the exhibits that is certain to attract your attention, is the beautiful dollhouse of Petronella Oortman, a creation of exquisite beauty. When I visited Amsterdam a few years ago, the book hadn't been published yet. Now, Jessie Burton's novel has come to add another thread in the glorious veil of mystery that surrounds this marvellous city.

We find ourselves during the 17th century
Sean Barrs
May 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I tried to read this around six months ago and couldn’t get past the first page. I tried again a month ago and gave up after the first chapter. Finally, I tried one more time last night. I got past the first page, and the first chapter, and finished the whole damn thing in one seven hour sitting. Suffice to say, my perseverance paid off because I really liked this book.

My advice: push through the initial awkwardness of the prose.

Ok, so the phrasing of the prologue is very strange; it is enough t
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, dark, religion, dutch
Enjoyed this book, really entertaining story of 17th century Amsterdam and the adventures of Petronella, newly wed young wife of a rich merchant living at the 'Herengracht' in Amsterdam. The adventures however did not turn out what she expected...It's a rather dark and sad story, but beautifully told and beautifully characterizes Amsterdam of those could feel the cold of winter and the frozen canals throug the pages... Loved it. And then there's the mystery of the miniaturist, who ke ...more
Violet wells
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Final review, first posted on

In the fall of 1686, eighteen year old Petronella (Nella), newly wed in a hastily arranged marriage, arrives on the doorstep of her husband's fine home in Amsterdam, and finds herself, like second Mrs. de Winter in Rebecca, in over her head, in a home where there are strange undercurrents and dark secrets swirling around. Her twenty-plus years older husband, Johannes Brandt, is kind but mostly absent and apparently uninterested in visiting
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
Wendy Darling
May 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommended to Wendy Darling by: karen brissette
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
Apr 06, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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
Jeannette Nikolova
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
Now available on the WondrousBooks blog.

1. Cover love!

Let me back up here.
I stumbled upon this book and I thought the concept was interesting, even though I'm not a fan of historical books. I recently got a hold of it and I was in a hurry to read it.

Summary: Nella is a girl of almost 18 years whose father dies and she is forced to marry a rich merchant, Johannes Brandt, from Amsterdam and leave her village. Upon arrival, however, she realizes that her new hus
Jul 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jennifer Masterson
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars. What a fantastic and beautifully written debut novel from Jessie Burton. The Miniaturist is about young Nella who lives in the small town of Assendelft and is married off to a much older man named Johannes Brandt who is from Amsterdam in 1686 during it's Golden Age. What Nella endures in just a few months is crazy and very sad. Nella goes and lives with Johannes, his sister Marin, and the rest of his dysfunctional household. The book deals with secrets secrets and more secrets and jus ...more
Yes well, at first I thought the setting in seventeenth century Holland was very bold and a heroic undertaking, but then reading I thought maybe it was a sign of diffidence, a lack of confidence on the part of the author like a shy person wearing a huge hat or fancy shoes - no, don't look at me, look at my hat and shoes, don't scrutinise my sentences or my narrative - admire my lavish setting, the fabrics, the foods, the intricate details.

When one strips away the setting then I think for a story
Sep 17, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Heidi The Reader
A young woman gets married to a man she's never met. The household she enters is cold and uninviting. As a strange wedding present, her husband buys the woman a mock up of her household.

Against her wishes but wanting to please her husband, Nella hires a miniaturist to build furniture for the gift. The miniatures she receives are accurate enough to be scary. It seems that the miniaturist knows things about her life that Nella doesn't.

This is a story about secrets, trust and unexpected magic.

Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This author had me turning page after page with what's going to happen next thoughts. However, what Burton truly excelled in was bringing you into a time and place. It's eerie, a feeling of something looming, the unknown, the coldness all bring you into this story. This book isn't for everyone. Not once will you crack a smile or laugh a little, it would be a betrayal to the place and characters if you do. The plot is nothing the same but the tone and atmospheric feeling was similar to Burial Rit ...more
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adored this book! I bought it earlier in the year, and had it on the top of a pile of books, so I could see the cover often, as I find it so charming. It was one that I just knew I would like, and I was so pleased with how much I ended up enjoying it.

On one of the first pages there is a picture of Petronella Oortman's cabinet house. I would definitely recommend Googling it and looking at a full colour image, as it is so beautiful. There is also another Petronella Oortman, who also had a cabin
H.A. Leuschel
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Burton has created a diverse and fascinating cast of characters and 17th century Amsterdam with its many waterways, cobblestones and endearing as well as creepy and scary inhabitants comes to life like a detailed Brueghel painting depicting busy scenes set in Protestant Netherlands. Without wanting to give anything away from the intricate story line, I have to admit though that one aspect of the story was hugely unsettling for me. As much as homosexuality was punished hundreds of years ago becau ...more
Katie Lumsden
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
A thoroughly brilliant book, one of the best I've read in a long while - I loved the characters, the themes, the setting, the twists and turns of the plot, and the writing was just superb.
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
Erin Clemence
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton really took me by surprise. This historical fiction novel really pulled me in and left me guessing, with its short chapters and strong, developed characters, this novel was just as addicting as it was delightful.
In Amsterdam in 1686, Nella arrives at the doorstep of an illustrious businessman, ready and willing to take on the responsibility of being his wife. As she struggles to fit in, her husband buys her a miniature house (think, dollhouse of sorts) and Ne
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
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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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