Within minutes of stepping into Waterstones a customer had come up and told me to read the copy of The Miniaturist I was flicking through. And it happened twice. In different towns, weeks apart!
It was all I needed to be persuaded as I already liked the cover (hands up everyone else who judges a book on the cover, I know it’s not just me!), and it was Waterstones’ Book of The Year so they had a lovely big pile of them on a table looking very twinkly and enticing.
It was the perfect novel to read in the week between Christmas and New Year. The damp, swirling cold of Amsterdam’s canals in the story was counteracted by cozy fires and delicious warming meals. And while protagonist Nella is missing her family home’s marzipan when she goes to live with her new husband, I was surrounded by sweets and chocolate galore.
Jessie Burton’s intricately crafted sentences and amazingly detailed setting were the strong points of the novel. Rather than Amsterdam being a briefly written backdrop for the story, I felt totally immersed in the culture of 17th-century Amsterdam. I don’t think I’ve ever learnt so much about a city through a novel before, it was like stepping back in time with a tour guide!
The mysterious storyline and feisty characters – sometimes a bit too openly feminist to believe the book was set 400 years ago! – meant I hankered to get back to it and binge read nearly the whole book in one afternoon.
I hope you enjoyed it if you have read it too. Let me know in the comments what you thought!