Today is book review day as usual, and I’m doing one that is a far cry from Easter celebration, being set in 17th century Amsterdam, mainly in the winter, where it’s cold and damp. In fact, the cold and damp, the ice, the cracking of the frozen canals, the wisps of frozen breath seeping through smelly and mould-laden windows and curtains, add to the depressed feeling I had for the first three-quarters of the book. It may be that I started it just after dearest Dylan died, but I put it aside for a while, till I felt a bit better, came back to it, because I had to read it by March 22nd (our bookclub meeting), and read a chapter at a time out of duty. By the time I got to around 80% of the way through the action started, and it became a page-turner for the rest of the story.
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, is one of those that has gathered huge praise, but it seems to me that this is built on attention to fine detail of a bygone world, and not necessarily for good story-telling. Or was the contrast between the tedium of the tale deliberate, to make you realise the hollowness of their lives, and thus the shocking inevitability of the ending?
You have probably gathered I didn’t like it. Well, I liked bits of it. I just wish I hadn’t had to read it all to get to the good bits, although I’m quite glad I did. It was worth finishing. I’m really glad it was from the library and not bought, though – I looked at it in the bookshop on numerous occasions and turned it back after reading the cover, thinking, no….
Maybe it’s too highbrow for me. It’s a Goodreads 2 stars (ok) and a 6/10 for the bookclub, because I think it was interestingly written. 3 stars for Amazon. Well, maybe 2…
And it has some fairly graphic adult content, none of which is exciting or uplifting. Depressing, in fact.
5 thoughts on “Book Review | The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton”
Hi Jemima – I’ve just given a talk on Rembrandt – and thought this might make an interesting adjunct read … but from what you say – perhaps not … or later on in life …
Cheers and let me know if pos re Guinea Pigs – fast running out of letters … have a good Easter – Hilary
I have to say that my book club generally loved it and gave it 8s and 9s. Although they did say things like ‘for a first novel’ which I think is irrelevant, and hadn’t noticed anyway. So don’t take my word for it!
Happy Easter Jemima. It’s as well all our tastes aren’t the same, there’s be no chocolate left.
xxx Massive Hugs xxx
*Crosses off list*. I find I struggle with a lot of book group choices, but plough on determinedly because I don’t want to admit to not finishing it. Last time I was the only one who did though! Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, a Booker winner and 800+ pages. Got easier after the first 350…….
Thanks for taking one for the team. I won’t have to read that one 🙂
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