This is quite an impressive first novel from English Actress Jessie Burton. Not only has she written a compelling page-turner, but you also get an interesting glimpse into life in Amsterdam during the late 1600s, where gold and success are worshipped right alongside fundamental Protestant values. Awarded four stars on Goodreads.
Petronella (Nella) is just 18 years old, the newly married wife of an older and very successful Amsterdam merchant, living in a house full of mysteries. First, there is her husband Johannes, who is often away working and appears to have little interest in his much younger wife. There is Marin, Johannes’ single sister who runs the house, is involved in her brother’s business affairs, and generally keeps to a room full of maps, exotic objects and foreign items not typical of the interests of women. Then, there’s Cornelia, the cook and maid, who appears unusually forthright in the way she speaks to her employers. Also, Otto, a slave Johannes has rescued and brought to live in the house. And finally, the Miniaturist — a phantom woman who crafts magical miniatures with details that seem to predict future events.
As Petronella struggles to build her life as a married woman and figure out her proper place in the house and in Amsterdam society, she has to both uncover the secrets of those around her, as well as stand up to Amsterdam’s powerful guilds and town officials.
Part mystery, part historical novel, this is one fascinating story.