Wednesday 19 April 2017

Book Review:The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

If they had only kept it in their pantaloons.

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed...

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways ...

Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall? Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth. 

This book was hyped way too much for what it is. A bad historical fan fiction, I listen to the audio book version of this from the library. I wish that meant I hadn't spent money on it and I haven't but I'm pretty sure I brought the ebook version at one point because voucher.

I'm not a big fan of historical fiction, except for Victorian Britain (that more to do with the insanity of the Victorians and the secret, weird stuff they got up to). I probably made a mistake in looking up the person this book is sort of based on. Sort of, in not all attempt to tell a possible story about the person with that name in history; the Petronella Oortman that did own a cabinet doll house and married Johannes Brandt. She was a rich widow, not impoverished upper-class teenager. The real Petronella sounds interesting. 

Not sure where the hype came from, because it originated from the Publishing world before the novel got this cool cover. The cover is fabulous and does deserve the hype. The novel in no way does. I think the setting of Amsterdam and some of the subject matter is what could sparked people's interest, but I had real hard time getting to the core of those subjects. The plot is actually dumb and depressing at the same time. This book needs plot re-haul. There something of an interesting story there, but things were set up and abandoned. If only one of the social justice plots had been taken, then maybe they would have been time to the explore the Miniaturist and not this thing where even the main character doesn't have time to think about it. The Miniaturist character was interesting but very little was done with it. I ran out of things to say that ain't big plot spoilers and there are sites that have done recaps.

I went on these recaps sites because I was super bored, but also intrigued. If this wasn't an audio book or if I had found something more interesting to listen to, I would not have finished this book and I would have not lost nothing or gain anything from doing that.

The character of Nella is boring. There is very little personality, she is a very Mary Sue with her 17-year-old peers. The reason this is not a YA book because it’s too boring to have any chance of keeping a teenager interested, also there is semi-graphic sex. There was attempt of character development, I could tell this was meant to be a coming age story for Nella. However, Nella was just unpleasant when she did show personality and dumb. I didn't like or enjoy any of the characters.

In terms of historical fact, it's as depressing as it should be. Women having no real option but to marry, and people are prejudice against the different. The fact that this book is so depressing is another reason I don't get the hype. There is also no real romance. Maybe because it is so different from most narratives about the past is why so people got behind it, but looking at reviews I don't see anyone truly love this book. The characters a very modern in the way they behaviour as well, but I don't know much much about Amsterdam past society structures.

The writing style was borderline modern poetic with random Dutch words in. I pick up no decent style from it, nor enjoy what we given. Burton might just need time and practice to developed her voice but right now there's nothing unique. Very bland, sometimes verges on purple prose. 

The audio book narration was bad for something read by the writer. Jessie Burton reads her own words without passion. I know she an Actor, so perhaps that's the issue with her reading that she did it like someone else work or this book is too boring for even the writer to convince me.

Overall, I give this book 2/5 stars for public sexcapade. This is Jessie Burton’s Debut so I won't be closing door to her but I don't know if I would bother with any more historical fiction from her. I do know her next novel is set (at least partly) in the last century. In theory this is a good, interesting book, but the execution needs development. I generally just don’t like historical fiction, nor weird fanfiction about real people, so this book was probably never going to be for me.