Title: The Miniaturist
Author: Jessie Burton
Page Count/Review Word Count: 434
I picked this up as a buddy read with a YouTube friend called Anthony Andrews, although he ended up giving up on it because it was dragging too much. I can’t really blame him, because it is quite a slow-paced book and I can see how it might not be for everyone. It actually reminded me of some books that I myself didn’t like as well, and there’s every chance he’ll get back to it.
For me, it helped that I went into the book with some momentum and managed to get through it within a couple of days. That helped me to feel super immersed in historical Amsterdam, and it also helped me to keep track of each of the different characters and to wrap my head around some of the Dutch terms that were being used throughout the book.
I also appreciated how each of the different sections ended with some major event or revelation, encouraging you as the reader to feel even more determined to keep on reading. And while I don’t usually like books that have elements of romance, this one worked out alright, in part because that wasn’t what the entire book was about and in part because it was handled in quite a dark, thoughtful manner.
When you read this book, it almost feels as though you’re reading a historical account, rather than a piece of fiction. Each of the characters feels three-dimensional and fully alive, and that’s what helps you to become so engaged with the story and to root for characters that you might earlier have dismissed, as was the case with the way that I felt about Marin.
All in all, this is definitely the kind of book that you should go into blind, if only to avoid spoilers. All you really need to know is that it’s set in historical Amsterdam and that it covers everything from sexuality to racism to the sugar trade, and that if you like books about what it is to be human, you’re going to enjoy this one.
And it also has the advantage of being engaging and beautifully written. Even the dialogue has its own poetry to it, and I appreciated that the author didn’t go over the top with the use of detail. It could easily have got bogged down in its own detail and fallen flat because of it, but we got just the right amount of description and just the right amount of action.