Audiobook review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

61q7rd1eu9l-_sl300_The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Release date:
 03 July 2014
Genre:  General Fiction (Adult)
Length:  12 hours 02 minutes (Unabridged)
Narrated by:  Jessie Burton
Published by:  Audible Studios
Available at:,

My Rating: 5 out of 5


Publisher’s Summary:

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways. Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall? Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

Jessie Burton was born in 1982. She studied at Oxford University and the Central School of Speech and Drama, and has worked as an actress and a PA in the City. She now lives in south-east London, not far from where she grew up.

©2014 Jessie Burton (P)2014 Audible Studios

My Thoughts:

I purchased an download of this audiobook through my monthly subscription.

I first heard about this book at last year’s London Book Fair, where it was held up as an example of effective marketing launching a debut novel.  It’s been on my to-be-read list ever since, and finally it’s moment came.

I hadn’t bothered to read the publisher’s summary on Audible before I downloaded and began listening, so beyond a glowing recommendation from an exhibition, had no idea what to expect.

As the story began, I really wondered what kind of a book it was going to be.  The beginning is very gentle, even though Nella is only a girl as she arrives at her husband’s house for the first time after a wedding arranged by her mother.  She is only seventeen, still a child really, and has a head full of romantic notions about her new life.  Her illusions are quickly shattered by both her husband’s aloofness, and the sharp cold tongue of her sister-in-law.

Told in the naive understanding of a girl who thinks she should be a woman, events unravel at an increasing rate, secrets leaking out as it picks up speed.

No one is what they seem, and all are hiding a compromising secret.

There is so much in this book: romance, deceit, social prejudice.  For me, the most striking thread through the book is the story of a young girl who finds herself in a situation which is markedly different from the one she thought she had agreed to.  As she finds herself wondering who she can trust, if everyone has been deliberately misleading her, she is forced to grow up, and find the maturity and strength to bravely take charge of an increasingly out of control situation.

I won’t go into detail about the ending, for fear of ruining it for anyone who goes onto read/listen to the book after reading this, but it a brave and unexpected ending executed extremely well.  It left me with that “wow” feeling.

It is great to hear that this book is to be made into a BBC three-part drama.


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