I loved Jessie Burton’s writing style in “The Muse” and “The miniaturist” has made me fall in love with the way she writes. It is formal yet poetic.
The miniaturist’s best part is how engaging it is. It keeps the reader hooked till the end and is highly unpredictable. The worst part about the book is how confusing it is, especially the first few chapters. They made very little sense to me and puzzled me a lot, in a bad way. Even after the book ended, I am left looking for answers and the whole point of it all.
The title of the book made little sense to me towards the end.
The story is told in the narrator’s point of view and is set in 17th century Amsterdam. This piece of historical fiction revolves around homosexuality and the stigma associated with it, patriarchy, rebellion and revenge. The story is moderately paced and the characters are beautifully written. Marin’s character development is astonishing and so is Johannes’. Both the characters touched my heart and I lived their lives through them.
Jessie Burton constantly reasserted the effects of patriarchy on the women of 17th century Netherlands. They talk of their powerlessness yet it is the women of the story who show utmost courage in most situations. In the beginning, Nella is reduced by her own mother. She believes, thanks to her mother, that getting married and having kids is what defines a “woman”. Yet Marin proves her wrong. Marin is the complete opposite of Nella, defiant, rebellious and strong while Nella is naive, easily influenced and young. While Bella is brainwashed with patriarchal notions, Marin challenges her notions and abandons all rules of law in the society.
Jessie Burton also talks about the Dutch culture vividly and how they are not known to flaunt the riches. She constantly touches upon greed and how it ruins all. Frans Meermans’ greed for love and money leads him to pass a judgement so severe that it can’t be reversed.
The story is centered around love and betrayal. While Marin betrays Frans, Jake betrays Johannes and Johannes betrays Nella, the love they have for one another clouds their judgement and bad things happen.
I loved Nella and her husband’s brief friendship and how each of their conversations was more meaningful to Nella than the other.
It ached my heart to read about the characters and their intense emotions. Burton is an expert at conveying feelings, no doubt.
Overall, I loved the characterisation and the book was highly engaging.