The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton (reviewed 14 December 2017)
It is 1686, and in Amsterdam, 18-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at the grand house of her new husband, the wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. The marriage is more arrangement than love match, and for Nella, a country girl, Johannes and his household are an alarming prospect: his waspish sister, Marin, terrifies her half to death, and she fbrinds it hard to lift her eyes from the startling sight of his manservant, Otto, a former slave. (The Guardian review introduction).
“Utterly transporting. Burton’s prose beguiles the reader, while a riptide of plot takes hold with an unrelenting grip of suspense. My first instinct on finishing this book was to immediately read it again (Hannah Kent, author of Burial Rites).
Similarly, the book group valued this debut novel (a Waterstones book of the year), with a resounding group score of 4 out of 5.
One of our unresolved questions was “Do you think the miniaturist is a magical force or a human one?” Considering how pivotal the character is in the tale, the question had supporters of either suggestion.