Van has finished reading…The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

8 Apr

I’ve been waiting to read Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist for a while. It’s a title that you can’t have avoided in the book world – the story behind the story the sort of tale that gives hope to all those waiting to secure their debut release (as long as you’re prepared to put the work in, seventeen drafts and all!). I’d waited that long (not purposefully, it just happened that way) that there was almost a hint of trepidation in my fingers…unfounded, I can assure you. It should have been a sign of reassurance that the assistant in the shop held the book for a few seconds more than was comfortable before handing it over. Ooh, she said, the cover feels so nice.

The cast of characters is really quite superbly drawn. There’s no anxiety to sound Olde Worlde in speech patterns and this in itself lends that easy authenticity to the dialogue. They sound like people rather than roles. There is care too in the presentation of that era’s mores – how easy it would have been to hem a more modern and enlightened viewpoint around those antiquated views. Rather Jessie Burton lets them stand in the truth of each character and so leaves the reader to make up their own mind. Each person has a reason to be there, and none were surplus to requirements.

Though this is Nella’s story to tell for me it felt so much more like Marin’s tale to inhabit. We see through Nella’s eyes and hear Nella’s thoughts, though it’s no surprise that it’s Marin who fills much of that space. Of all the characters she was the one who really shone out for me. I’d heard Jessie Burton speak about the book prior to reading it and so was aware of her Cate-Blanchettesque writing of Marin, though interestingly for me it was Janet McTeer that I saw in my head almost straight away. Either way, for a writer or an actor (and I don’t doubt for a second that we’ll see this book adapted for the screen, be it large or small) Marin is a character to dream of. She’s such a finely wrought jumble of contradictions it makes her a joy to read, and more than that, to feel for.

If, judging by the sales figures, you’re one of the few people who’ve not read it, don’t delay. Don’t let yourself be daunted by the hype. Don’t let yourself think it might not live up to expectation. Dive in. For Marin and Nella and Cordelia (Yes, I think the women in this book shine, particularly) are people who are likely to stay with you well after the nice-feeling cover is closed. It’s well worth all seventeen drafts.

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One Response to “Van has finished reading…The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton”

  1. Fran Roberts (@CatwomanFran) 08/04/2015 at 11:55 am #

    It’s being adapted for TV! Loved this book, although at times it did feel like the debut it is, with a few threads dropped. I want to read more though!

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