“Growing older does not seem to make you more certain, Nella thinks. It simply presents you with more reasons for doubt.”
Hello, my bookish friends. I hope your Tuesday is going great so far. The weather has been getting colder, and I’m loving it! Because colder weather always puts me in a good mood. Anyway, I really love historical fiction books, and I’ve been wanting to read The Miniaturist, because there was so much hype around it. So, I actually finished over the weekend, and I still can’t tell if I loved the book or not. But, without further ado, let’s review this book!
The book follows the story of Petronella Oortman, who is married to a wealthy man named Johannes Brandt. When she arrives in Amsterdam to meet her husband, she feels so excited about starting a new life as a wife. Unfortunately, Johannes treats her in a cold, and distant way, and he doesn’t really care enough to get to know her. He always travels far away and leaves her with his sister, Marin. One day, Johannes decides to buy a cabinet dollhouse as a wedding gift for Petronella. This dollhouse is a miniature version of the house they’re living in, but it’s empty. So, Petronella plans to furnish it. Therefore, she asks a miniaturist artist to make for her tiny furniture. Despite being precise, this miniaturist sends more miniature objects to Petronella that she didn’t even ask for, so she makes it her mission to find out the identity of this mysterious person. However, the cabinet dollhouse opens up Petronella’s eyes to things she didn’t pay attention to before, and reveals many hidden secrets in the house.
First of all, this book was confusing as hell, and very hard to get into in the beginning. But then, it started to make sense for me. Because when you finish it, you have to go back and read the first chapter again, and you’ll understand why the beginning is misleading. The writing style is a bit different, but I loved how descriptive it is. It’s very vivid and atmospheric. You can picture Amsterdam’s streets, the dollhouse, and how each character looks like. And I think that adds something unique to the story. The plot is very slow paced, and sometimes I was this close to drop it and pick up another book instead. But, I kept reading, and around 200 pages things started to get interesting and I couldn’t put it down. To be honest, I enjoyed the writing style more than the story itself.
Let’s talk about the characters. First of all, Petronella is the main protagonist of the story. At first, she arrives at her new house with high expectations, then she gets disappointed when things don’t go as the way she imagined. She is filled with frustration, and crushed hopes. And she feels like her presence doesn’t mean anything to her husband. I sympathized with her, but she was such a passive character. She lets other people tell her what to do, and she doesn’t speak or stand up for herself. There were parts in the book when she was going to do something for herself, but she didn’t. And that really annoyed me. She’s just the type of character that waits for her life to miraculously change, and people around her acknowledge her, and make her feel worthy of herself. And I think maybe that’s because of how young, she is. Second of all, The title of the book refers to the mysterious miniaturist artist who occasionally sends miniature objects to Petronella. This miniaturist knows a lot about each person in the house, even their secrets, but no one knows who this person is. I was really intrigued to know the identity of the miniaturist, and I wished this person could tell us more about themselves. Also, the fact that Petronella didn’t meet the miniaturist at the end, made me feel so mad. Third of all, Johannes is Petronella’s husband, but he doesn’t act like one. He rarely sits and talk with her, and he doesn’t offer her his affection at all. I really think he’s selfish, because he just wanted people to know he’s married, so no could figure out his secret. But, he deprived Petronella of the life she wants. It’s like she was an accessory to him, not a real person. All he cared about was his wealth. Fourth of all, Marin is Johannes’s sister, and she doesn’t show any emotion at all. Always so serious. And she’s in charge of everything in the house. But, her relationship with her brother is strong. She cares for him, and he is protective of her. She’s definitely the only character I like in the book, because everyone respects her and follow her lead. She’s strong and I like that.
What I like about this book is that we get to know the background story of each character, and how that lead them to where they are now. The characters’ growth was great. Also, this book explored important themes. Like, sexuality, religion, feminism. Race. The end of the book was a major disappointment. So many loose ends. I would definitely give it 3\5 stars.
To wrap up my review, The Miniaturist is a stunningly written book that gives you the perfect sense of the seventeenth century in Amsterdam. But, as I said, the first half of the book was just so meh to me, the second half of the book was where things started to pick up. Still, I love Jessie Burton’s writing, she makes the words come to life. If you’re a patient reader, I recommend this book to you. Because it’s one of those books that you have to take your time with to get into it.