The Minutuarist takes place in 16th century Amsterdam, where newlywed Petronella Brandt opens the doors to her new life. But when she gets their, married life is not all its cracked up to be…
The title of this book, to me at least, is slightly misleading. The Minutuarist, (someone who makes small things) is a peripheral figure in the book and the vast majority of the content is about the odd family that Petronella Brandt finds herself in the centre of. So maybe ‘The 16th Century Dutch Housewife’ is a more apt name, but is perhaps less catchy and interesting. This annoyed me because I got something I wasn’t looking for.
There is not a huge amount of description in The Minituarist. One of the main reasons I bought to the book was because of it’s 16th century Amsterdam setting, it’s a period and setting which is relatively uncommon for modern day fiction. Unfortunately where the book takes place is almost completely irrelevant to the story. There are a few romantic descriptions of the famous canals and a bakery, but apart from that, the book never delves into it’s setting beyond face value. Amsterdam is simply a framework.
When you start reading, it becomes immediately clear that it is written for the female market. After reading the books synopsis and reviews prior to buying the book, I don’t feel this was made apparent. This again annoyed me slightly, as this wasn’t what I wanted, but I persisted with the book regardless.
However the story is intriguing throughout, even if is not what I expected. The book tells the tale of Petronella Brandt, a country girl recently married to a rich Amsterdam-based merchant. Life at her new marital home is not what she expects. Whilst her dissatisfaction is going on she is sent numerous miniature objects by a local artisan. The miniaturist makes unbelievably accurate pieces, which begin to concern Petronella as they become more and more insightful. From here the story twists and turns and has some genuinely shocking moments. This is definitely an enjoyable book to read and I found it difficult to put down. However upon completion I felt like it didn’t fulfil it’s own potential. The story certainly seems appealing and on reaching half way, you feel like the book is really going to deliver. But the second half of the story languishes on and goes in directions I didn’t want or expect it to take. This left me disappointed when the book finished.
Overall I feel like The Minitiarist is an interesting book, but it doesn’t fulfil it’s early promise and because of that I would score it a 7 out of 10, it’s a very decent read, but simply not fantastic. For a debut novel, this is an author which I will be looking out for in the near future. I definitely think it is worth a read for some people, but for me, it wasn’t what I expected it to be.