The Miniaturist

by Jessie Burton
Picador, €11.40;
ebook, €8.60
Review: Emma Herdman

It opens with Nella, our young heroine, arriving in 17th century Amsterdam at the house of trader Johannes — her new husband.

On arrival, Nella is gifted a replica of her new home in cabinet size, and, there is more in the package than she has asked for: chairs identical to those downstairs, a cradle and miniature versions of Johannes’s whippets.

As the novel continues, the miniaturist’s parcels hint at secrets. How does the miniaturist know so much about her household and who is this mysterious craftsman? It is from Nella’s uncovering of the secrets inside and out of the house that the compelling quality of this novel comes. There is a wonderful sense of place and time, and you cannot fault Burton’s research or skilled way with words; but such a hotly hyped debut leaves the reader hoping for more than we are given.

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