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The Miniaturist

The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton Nella Oortman - now known formally as Petronella Brandt after her marriage to wealthy merchant Johannes - moves to Amsterdam from the dull countryside to begin her new life as his wife. Living in the same household, Johannes sister, Marin, is the head of the household, with two servants, Cornelia and Otto. But the house is strange and cold, despite their wealth, and Johannes seems uninspired by his new wife. However, he buys her a brand new, very expensive dollhouse to satiate her, not knowing what it might mean for their marriage.

For a much-hyped book, I was pleasantly surprised. Though I wasn't overly surprised, which doesn't surprise me. I've yet to read a book that deserves any of the hype it gets, including Harry Potter.

It was well-written, though at times there were mistakes, grammatical errors and the narration P.O.V irritated me at times. This is what I would expect from any first-time Author, though. The characters were well developed with immense back-stories, though at times they slipped and turned in to cardboard "background" characters. Nella was one of the more infuriating characters, purely because she was lovely and well-rounded at times, sometimes headstrong and sometimes a very timid young woman (childlike), but often her personality decomposed so much that I became unable to like her at all. I often went back and forth with my feelings for her, though in the end I think I did like her altogether.

The plot was likeable, and there were many times when I was taken aback by what was happening, which I enjoyed immensely. It was very surreal, however, and I would prefer the book to have been ousted as a kind of fantastical book from the beginning, because elements of the story were far-fetched (The Miniaturist, for one) but I certainly enjoyed the historical elements. Nella Oortman was a real lady who owned a Miniature Dollhouse (now housed in Rijksmuseum, though it certainly isn't biographical) and the atmosphere of 17th Amsterdam is wonderful.

For a first novel, it's a wonderful world. There are many pitfalls that bring it down, and the characters are quite schizophrenic at times (in that their personalities and three-dimensional properties get a little murky sometimes), but all in all, honestly, and if you know me you'll know I don't overrate books at all, nor do I buy in to the hype, this is a good book. Well done.