Friday, 6 July 2018

The Miniaturist - Jessie Burton (2014)

Rating: Admirable
The Miniaturist is one of those novels that are just like a really beautiful looking cake that tastes wonderful at first but the more that you eat the more unpalatable it becomes. Set in sixteenth century Amsterdam when Holland was at its apogee in terms of wealth and trade, the novel's themes deal with dark family secrets, the coming of age of the principal female protagonist - Petronella, the hypocrisy and paranoia of religion and some magic realism in the form of the precognitive powers of a young female miniaturist. I initially did become engaged with the plot and some of the characters were well rounded enough so that I cared what happened to them, however as the novel neared its endgame I became less satisfied. The tapestry of the narrative had become frayed so that the tension that was developed earlier dissipated and led to a fairly disappointing and predictable ending. The novel is good enough to be taken up and developed by the BBC as a mini-series (how appropriate...), but ultimately The Miniaturist lacks that vital narrative spark that makes for a memorable classic.

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