I have been wanting to read The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton for a long time. It always seemed like I couldn’t find it or I’d forget it was a book on my “to buy” list when I went shopping. The plot really interested me. A young girl named Petronella (Nella) marries a wealthy merchant who buys her a cabinet house (doll house) as a “distraction.” Weird things begin to happen after she order miniatures for the house. I’ve had a fascination with small toys for a long time and the elements of magical realism in the book sounded right up my alley.
I was altogether pleased with this book. I thought it was a really good story, but it wasn’t exactly what I expected. I expected a lot more of the magical realism elements and on that front I was a little disappointed. Though I am a fan of open endings, I wanted more explanation about the miniatures. To be honest the book was less about magical realism and more of a drama. I thought the drama between characters was good, but it wasn’t what I signed up for. If you’re expecting a lot from the miniatures then maybe give the book a pass or at least go into it knowing that it isn’t quite as advertised.
As I said though, the drama was good. The book was difficult to put down. I wanted to know more about the mysteries. There were some good plot twists that actually took me by surprise and overall I enjoyed the characters. Most of the supporting cast were great. The main character, Nella, was a little flat and sometimes annoyed me with her repetitive thoughts, but she had some growth that was mostly believable by the end. The writing was good. It painted a good picture, read fast, and wasn’t overly bloated or flowery. I didn’t know how accurate the historical information was, but it felt real and gritty. However, the plot had almost too much to say. It was about the power of women in this time period, but it also tried to comment on religion, closed mindedness, greed, and a lot more. The pace was fast and it felt like tragedy after tragedy and mystery after mystery unfolded. Some people may like that, but I prefer a slower pace to book most of the time.
I was pleased with the novel. It didn’t measure up to my expectations and I felt that it could have done more with the miniatures and the miniaturist, but it was still a very good read.