For a first time author, The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton is a beautifully written piece of historical fiction, and the reader will be rewarded for venturing into its depths.
It is set in 1686 Amsterdam and is the story of a young country girl, selected to be the wife of an older wealthy merchant trader. Nella arrives at his house to find that his spinster sister is the current chatelaine of the establishment and loathe to give up her position. However, the trader, Johannes, arrives home and quite unexpectedly makes Nella a wedding present of a cabinet-sized replica of their house.
From time to time, a beautifully handmade miniature item is delivered to Nella, to furnish the cabinet. The items are alarming, exquisite, replicas of actual people and furnishings already in existence in the house. Such items cause much grief as who would be privy to the contents of the house in order to replicate them so well?
This novel has many themes, covering love, hate, mysterious circumstances, the atmosphere of Amsterdam in its heyday of sea trade and betrayal. The ending is not expected but is satisfying in its own way. This reviewer was left wishing for a sequel to continue an absorbing story.