The Miniaturist – Jesse Burton

‘What are we all chasing? Nella wonders. To live, of course. To be unbound from the invisible ropes that Johannes spoke of in his study. Or to be happy in them at least.’

Where do I start? I may or may not have found my favorite book of 2015 and it’s only February! The Miniaturist follows the life of Petronella Oortman who marries into the Brandt family. Her husband is a mystery, a man she has met only once and upon arriving at his home, he is nowhere to be seen. Marin, his sister is there to greet her reluctantly along side her servants Otto and Cornelia. The story is one of how society binds us to a norm, a norm which we must follow for fear of being shunned. Johannes, Nella’s new husband is an embodiment of what can happen to someone when they are refused a life they most certainly deserve. A life of being yourself, of being able to speak and act in a way that feels best for you. I felt that the premise of the book was summerised quite well in the quote above.

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What struck me the most was the writing style and how it perfectly matched the tone of the age in which it was set (it did so for me, at least). Whilst the story was published in 2014, Burton completely encapsulates the 1600’s and the troubles people endured. Johannes breaks the mold and unfortunatly is punished for it. Nella is awed by his reluctance to conform:

‘she remembers telling Johannes in his study how much he fascinated her. Looking at him now, those words hold true. His conversation and knowledge, his dry accommodation of the world’s hypocracies, his desire to be what he is. He lifts his hand to the candlelight, and the strong, hard ridges of his fingers are beautiful. How much she wants him to live.’

Picador have done themselves proud with the presentation of this book. There’s something wonderful about a hard back that will always stand superior to the poor paperbacks and e-reader versions. A beautiful book, despite our protestations that we’re buying for the content, will always sway us to pulling it from the shelf in a book shop. I always love it when publishers make the effort with the presentation of a novel, and this book is an absolute gem on my bookshelf!

10/10 gold stars all round!!!!

That’s it from me! xxx

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