Set in 17th-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, 18-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 Marin.
But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist - an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways...
Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand - and fear - the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation...or the architect of their destruction?
Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.
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Too Many Holes
- Cariola "malfi"
Intriguing tale set in 17th Century Netherlands
I found this book entertaining but flawed. This is the story of a bride who enters a family she barely knows, how she comes to be a true part of that family and carries it forward regardless of the very inauspicious beginnings of her relationship with the other members of the family. I enjoyed listening to this book but once is enough.
Without giving anything away, there is a particular scene in the book where the reason for the issues Lena is experiencing with her husband become suddenly revealed to her. It is hard for this particular scene not to be memorable.
Davina Porter's narration certainly added depth to the characters. The female characters in this book were well developed and congruent; the male characters remained shallow; they also benefited from Porter's reading.
The relationship between Johannes and Lena is the backbone of this book and what gives it meaning. It is unfortunate that the supposed depth of the feelings and commitment they develop toward each other is not substantiated by their interactions and conversation in the novel. I enjoy period pieces and, as such, I enjoyed this book (although the degree of detail for us to develop a real notion of what life was like in 17th Century Netherlands is really not there...we just get to see a postcard). All in all, this book had a lot of promise...we are kept guessing through it...but most of the promise remains unfulfilled.
- Pita "Life long compulsive reader & lover of recorded books"