11 Sep 2015



BACK COVER BLURB: On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an exclusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations ring eerily true.

As Nella uncovers the secrets of her new household she realizes the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands - but does she plan to save or destroy them?

FIRST SENTENCE {The Old Church, Amsterdam: Tuesday, 14th January 1687}: The funeral is supposed to be a quiet affair, for the deceased had no friends.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 218}: She cannot marry the blood-soaked shirt, the protruding hilt and his pleadings for life with this cockiness, this morbid glee at having tricked her that he was on his way to meet his maker.

SOURCE: A Reading Group read though this is my own copy purchased from a church fair.

MY THOUGHTS: Utterly disappointed with this much-hyped novel. 

Such a promising premise, after all how many woman as girls dreamt of having such a doll's house? I know I did.

The story of what happens when Nella is given a 'cabinet' house (a replica of her marital home) on her marriage to Johannes, a man she barely knows and one who it seems is in no hurry to consummate their marriage. Not that that's the biggest 'mystery' - I say mystery when the reason behind this one is at least pretty apparent - in a book full of them. 

And therein lies my first problem with the book.

So many of these 'mysteries' go either unanswered or, oddly enough even more frustratingly, not satisfactorily answered, the unsatisfying ending leaving so many of the threads unresolved. Without giving too much away the motivations behind the'miniaturist' herself being the most puzzling.

A slow burner of a read with a weak plot that never quite delivers and equally 'wishy-washy' characters. I'm afraid worst of all was how implausible I found the whole thing. 

As with most (if indeed not all) historical fiction I understand that a certain amount of poetical licence is generally employed BUT ...

With a lead character who has all of the sensibilities (and indeed liberal views on sexuality) of her 21st century counterparts I'm afraid I found the not yet out of her teens Nella who wandered 17th century Amsterdam an unchaperoned 'feisty feminist' laughably incredulous.

All in all a book full of overblown prose that on the face of it appears 'significant' and yet when I actually paused to think about it was actually quite meaningless.  

As I said, utterly disappointed.


Brian Joseph said...

Ironically I enjoyed your review even though you had a negative experience with this book. You painted a clear picture of the problems that you had with it while still being entertaining.

Not solving mysteries as you describe sounds unbelievably frustrating.

Sherry Ellis said...

That's too bad! It sounded like there could be some really good possibilities for a compelling plot for this one.

Natasha Hill said...

Ah wow it sounds like such a good book but then hearing you didn't enjoy it that's a shame as the premise sounded great. I'll have to find it and read it and see what I think - always disappointing when a great idea doesn't take hold. Thank you for all of the lovely comments recently too! - Tasha

Kelly said...

Oh, dear. I was afraid of this. I looked at the book after you mentioned it at Yvonne's and saw there were a number of negative reviews (so I quit looking).

Brian is right...despite your disappointment, you wrote an excellent, interesting review of it. And from several of the points you made, it will not be going on my wish list.

Brandi Kosiner said...

Sorry to hear the weak plot and plus being implausible.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Aww too bad. I might be able to handle one aspect but being both implausible and overblown is just not my cuppa. Hope the next is better!

Melliane said...

It's sad when you don't have the answers while reading a book. Sorry that it wasn't more.

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

So sorry you didn't enjoy this one more, but your review was very clear and helpful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. :) Hope you are reading something awesome right now.

Suko said...

Tracy, I'm sorry this was so disappointing. It did sound promising. Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts.

New Release Books said...

Sorry you didn't enjoy. But I loved reading your views!

Gina R said...

Ah Tracy, another one? Goodness you've had a stretch of bad picks recently. Had higher hopes for this one too...sounded rather interesting.

Literary Feline said...

I am sorry to hear you didn't like this one, Tracy. I haven't yet read it, but I have a copy on my shelf waiting its turn. The premise does sound very promising. It's too bad it didn't live up to the hype.

Charlie (The Worm Hole) said...

I have to say I agree with you on every point. I'm glad I read it, because I'd been wanting to for a while but it took me some time to finish.