I just finished the Miniaturist. I say just, about a
week ago. I haven’t reviewed a book in a while, I’m not sure how I used to do
this, but here we are. A review of the Miniaturist.
The Minituarist is about a young woman named Nella
Oortman who moves from Assendelft to Amsterdam in the late 1600s. She has just
wed Johannes Brandt, an older Amsterdamer merchant trader in the VOC. Brandt
spends most of his time at his office or in his study and doesn’t really talk
to Nella. She wants to fulfill her wifely duties, but he rebuffs her. She
spends most of her time with her sister-in-law, Marin, and the servants,
Cornelia and Otto, a former slave Johannes bought, and then employed. To keep
Nella occupied Johannes buys her a replica of their house, and Nella engages
the services of a Miniaturist to furnish it. Through these miniatures she
learns about her house and her new family.
I really liked it. It was really odd. I thought Nella
was sort of hired the miniaturist, but I liked that the miniaturist sort of
stalked her and kept sending Nella stuff without Nella wanting it. It was
weird. Nella was sort of trapped in this house with her sister-in-law and
servants, without anything to do, and she sees her aches and her fears and
displeasure reflected in this cabinet house. I liked that. I’m sounding a bit
insane I realize, but I like creepiness.
I liked how society bled into the book. Amsterdam, and
the Netherlands in general, was a huge economical force in the late 1600s. And
even if Johannes’ sister Marin worries about money their house is one of
opulence. Johannes is a merchant trader in the VOC and he is held to their
standards and they were at times brutal.
The church of the Netherlands also bleeds in. They
outlaw recreations of faces in dolls and other things. So when Marin finds some
of the miniatures in Nella’s house she gets furious. It’s interesting how
intensely strict the church was and how much of life it took up.
It fascinated me that Johannes behaved in the way that
he did. I can’t explain this properly without spoiling something huge, but he
has a big, life-ruining secret. He also has this huge deal he’s working on.
Another trader has asked him to sell his sugar. It’s an interesting trade/sale
(if you’re a nerd), because sugar wasn’t under any of the laws of the VOC so
Johannes can sell it to anyone for any price they are willing to sell. (See,
I’m a nerd.) And because Johannes really doesn’t like the man whose wife owns
the sugar, he dawdles. This leads to just so much animosity and so much
It was good. It was also really just weird. It seemed
a little unlikely that everything awful just seemed to happen out of nowhere. Obviously
since it’s told from Nella’s perspective it just seems like everything happened
at once. It’s stuff that’s been brewing and bubbling, and maybe Nella is just a
catalyst for it. It just felt like a lot was happening. So much stuff going on.
I can’t really explain what happened without spoiling everything. There’s
Johannes and his whole thing, things, and Marin has something going on, and
that’s also a huge thing, a huge, world-shattering,
Netherlands-thing. So there’s just so much. And it’s made to feel like even
more because of the Miniaturist sending Nella the miniatures and sort of
upsetting her life, and describing it. It just felt like a lot of horrible
I still loved it, it was very beautiful. And you know,
Amsterdam. I might need to go back to Amsterdam. I’m coming to such great decisions.
It’s not a massive surprise. Obviously I’m going back. Shut up. Okay.
﷽﷽﷽﷽﷽﷽﷽﷽ a bit insane I
realize. this cabinet house. I liked that. I'sees her aches and her d re house
and her family.
I really liked it. I thought it was beautiful and
interesting, and odd, which I always like. So I liked it. Whoo.