The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist

Book - 2014
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Engaging the services of a miniaturist to furnish a cabinet-sized replica of her new home, 18-year-old Nella Oortman, the wife of an illustrious merchant trader, soon discovers that the artist's tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways.
Publisher: New York :, Ecco,, [2014]
Edition: First edition
Description: 400 pages : illustrated, map on endpapers ; 24 cm
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9780062306814
Branch Call Number: Burt
Additional Contributors: Burton, Jessie, 1982- Miniaturist


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Jun 08, 2021

I so wanted to like this book.

Let's start with what this book does well:
-Clearly researched setting and history!
-Potential for an interesting story!!

Yeah. The story idea is well thought out and there clearly was so much research put into the book, but it just fell flat for me. The thought I couldn't get out of my head while reading The Miniaturist is that it just felt ~grey~.

The characters have the most interesting backstories, yet somehow each of them has exactly zero personality. Johannes and Nella never develop any sort of relationship, so their conversations all feel weird. Marin feels cold the whole time, even when she is supposed to be warming up. Otto had the potential to do so much and he did nothing. The dogs had more depth than the people. I just wanted more.

Also, one more gripe--I hate present tense with all of my being. I had to reread far too often because of it. Maybe that's just a me thing, but it really detracted from my reading experience.

All in all, this isn't a bad book, I just wanted so much more from it. The storyline is great, the characters are interesting, the setting is amazing. I just wanted MORE. I wouldn't reread it, but I wouldn't tell someone not to read it.

JessicaGma May 25, 2021

I had waited on this title for a spell, and I don't know if I quite enjoyed it after the wait. It's a strange sort of historical-ish, but also magical realism-ish book set in 17th century Holland. Some of the reveals were a little "hunh, okay" - maybe the book would have been better years ago? Not the worst thing I have read, but also not the best.

Apr 08, 2021

The Minaturist has a pinch of every kind of fairy tale spice--family tension of secrets, knowing servants, towny mores, insufferable pious jerks, magic, bargaining, and the "to be continued" ending.

Feb 06, 2021

D/l audio

Dec 05, 2019

Usually I’m not super into historical fiction, but when there’s a creepy element like in this book…I’m here.

Sep 21, 2019

This book was only fair. I likely will not read more by this author.

Jun 06, 2019

So I like this book until half-way, the last act fell flat for me. I just wanted more but the historical parts were great.

May 28, 2019

Love it! Page turner! Read the whole thing in a weekend because I couldn't put it down.

May 10, 2019

Never quite reaches its potential, slow paced, leaves much to be desired.

DPLheather Oct 26, 2018

After seeing this on OPB I had to read the book, and I'm so glad I did. It's, of course, even more captivating. An excellent historical novel about a time I know very little about, and a strong woman who rises above all that is set against her.

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Apr 18, 2017

“Every woman is the architect of her own fortune.”

Sep 14, 2015

In suffering do we find our truest selves.

Sep 14, 2015

Growing older does not seem to make you more certain. It simply presents you with more reasons for doubt.


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Feb 19, 2017

Nella escapes her dreary dead-end future in small-town Netherlands via an arranged marriage to a successful merchant in Amsterdam. She enters the household of Johannes, his sister Marin, and their servants Cornelia and Otto. The big business deal on Johannes' plate is to sell a warehouse full of sugar. He'll split the profits with his former best friend, who is very eager to get the sale in motion even though it's not the best time of year to do so. He gives her a miniature house as a wedding gift. Soon thereafter, she begins receiving exquisitely created miniatures of the members of the household and the furniture in the house. Then the gifts begin taking on something of a magical predictive quality, i.e., the miniature dog develops a smear of red on his skull, and later the dog is stabbed in the skull and dies. Johannes is distant and often absent and seems to be disinterested in Nella as a wife. Turns out he's gay, which Nella discovers when she interrupts him in flagrante. His former best friend catches him, too, and turns him in to the police. It's a crime punishable by death to be gay in 17th century Amsterdam. He is "tried" and found guilty, and executed by drowning. Meanwhile, his sister Marin has given birth out of wedlock to a daughter fathered by Otto, the black servant ("a savage") Johannes brought back from his travels to Africa. She died in childbirth. So the story ends with Nella, Cornelia, Otto, and newborn Thea living together in circumstances created primarily by Johannes and Marin -- and the society of 17th century Amsterdam.

The mystery of the miniatures and their maker was not revealed.

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