Jessie Burton || The Miniaturist

I wanted to read The Miniaturist, because it had been quite hyped in the summer. My local book store has heaps of it and wants us to read it. So I was curious whether the hype was justified and I am very sorry to say ‘no’. I liked The Miniaturist, it was a pleasant book to read. Pleasant however does not suffice. I have been thinking what made me react negatively to the novel and I came up with the following conclusion: the characters do not convince. Especially Nella, the main character, changes from an uncertain country girl (Assendelft still is a very small village) to a grown-up woman who takes control and accepts facts the country girl would not be able to grasp. I find her acceptance about the true nature of her husband utterly unconvincing. I’m afraid a young girl from Assendelft transported to Amsterdam who catches only glimpses of her husband would not be this forgiving and accepting. Burton fails to convince me why Nella changes this rapidly. The explanation given, miniatures forecasting events in Nella’s life, hardly suffices. They point Nella to the reality of her life, I fail to see how they can make her change that quickly. Let me be clear: it is not that I begrudge Nella this change, I find fault with Burton for not taking the time to let us know Nella. The characters in The Miniaturist are superficial and therefore not convincing. I cannot believe that a man who has hardly spoken to his young wife can at the end of the novel proclaim that she is terrific. How does he know? When has he found time to get to know her? The role of the miniaturist remains superficial as well. Burton apparently introduces her as some ‘deux ex machina’, trying to change the lives of the people around her. The effect is that The Miniaturist gets torn between slightly fantasy and a novel about growing up in a harsh way, never really making a clear choice. Not making the choice adds to the unconvincingness of the novel. The Miniaturist is a pleasant read which could have become a justified hype if Burton had managed to elaborate on her characters and their surroundings.




About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
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