2018 was not off to the amazing start reading wise as I had hoped. I selected this book at the end of 2017 and thought I’d finish it quickly. Unfortunately, this book wasn’t exactly what I had expected and so it was difficult to get much reading done. By now however, I have found a great way to do more reading: just before going to bed. So I’m now trying to go to bed earlier and just read for an hour or two. Now all I need to do is try and do it more consistently. Here is the one book I read in January 2018.
Jessie Burton – The Miniaturist
Petronella Oortman is 18 years old and newly married to Johannes Brandt. She arrives on his doorstep some time after their marriage and barely sees him. Instead she is welcomed by her strict sister-in-law, her husband’s manservant and the maid. Being a country girl, Nella finds it hard to adjust to life in 17th century Amsterdam. When her distant husband gifts her a doll house as a wedding present, Nella is at first offended, but then decides to take matters into her own hands. Soon, she enlists a miniaturist to furnish her dollhouse. Eerily enough, the figurines that she receives seem to foretell the future and when they start arriving on her doorstep unannounced, Nella is not sure whether it was such a wise decision to enlist the Miniaturist as her life starts to crumble around her.
I mentioned in my intro that I had a hard time reading this. The writing was beautiful, but maybe because I know a bit about 17th century Amsterdam (I am Dutch and this century plays a huge role in Dutch history classes), or either because the plot was nothing as I had expected from the blurb: I had a hard time getting into the book. It took a good 150 pages before I felt any sympathy for any of the characters, even or maybe even especially Nella.
Many of the characters, well pretty much all of them, are unlikable and I felt the setting of 17th century Amsterdam felt forced. It was so unnatural to see Dutch mixed into an original English story. Especially since all of the Dutch words used were easy enough to understand for me, yet since they would warrant explanations for readers unfamiliar with Dutch it would be more difficult to understand they were often explained in the text which slowed down the reading process as well.
After the first half, the book definitely picks up which made it much more engaging. But a book titled The Miniaturist in which said Miniaturist hardly plays a role and merely serves as a devise to move along an otherwise uninspiring plot, just didn’t capture my interest. I think this book had lots of potential, but it was no more than that and the ending felt quite rushed sloppy. I had high expectations, but sadly this book wasn’t able to meet those for me.
What was the last book you read you didn’t like all that much?