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The Miniaturist

A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


Now a television miniseries, as seen on Masterpiece on PBS

Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam—a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion—a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant.

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

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office—leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist—an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand—and fear—the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

From Publishers Weekly

Jun 23, 2014 – Late 17th-century Amsterdam is the sumptuous backdrop for this debut novel about a young Dutch girl from the village of Assendelft, Nella Oortman, who is chosen to be the bride of Johannes Brandt, a wealthy merchant with a shocking secret. Not long after Nella's arrival in the city, her enigmatic husband presents her with a beautifully wrought cabinet, an exact replica of the house in which they live with Brandt's sister, Marin, and their loyal servants. Nella engages a miniaturist to fill it and begins to encounter mysteries no one is willing to explain, secrets in which everyone in the household is implicated. The elusive miniaturist, too, seems to know more than Nella, as reflected in the tiny dolls and furniture he creates for the cabinet. The artisan may even be able to predict the future: he sends Nella portentous objects she has not commissioned, such as a cradle and a perfect replica of Brandt's beloved dog stained with blood. As in all good historical novels, the setting is a major character; in this case the city of Amsterdam, with its waterways and warehouses, confectioners' shops, and kitchens, teems with period detail. Myriad plot twists involve Brandt's commercial activities, especially the stores of precious sugar cones from Surinam, and the tragic, fatal consequences of illicit love affairs. Strangely enough, however, the central mystery, the miniaturist's uncanny knowledge of the future, is never solved, and the reader is left unsatisfied.

Customer Reviews

Just didn’t work for me

The prose didn’t hook me, and the characters saddened me, every one. Nothing went well, I found no redeeming grace.

Surprising Historical Story

I really liked this story for its history and it's glimpse into the customs and morals of that period.
I thought this would be a typical country girl wins over sophisticated businessman and his family story. It is not! It is in your face, unexpected situations that the heroine has to deal with and survive. It's the old adage that things and people are not what they seem. The weak become strong and strong are very weak! I really liked this story because of the historical perspective and the surprising situations. I recommend this novel.

The Miniaturist by Jesse Burton

Historical themes draw the reader into 17th century Amsterdam's mercantile economic life. Dark overtone's of the issues we grapple with today and still have failed to come to terms with, are laced into the storyline. The writing is very well done and illustrates a time of the nascent seeds of capitalism nurtured to life thru the guild system. I was thoroughly entertained and.transported into the past.

The Miniaturist
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Historical
  • Published: Aug 26, 2014
  • Publisher: Ecco
  • Print Length: 432 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings