By Jessie Burton
Publication Date: August 30, 2022
In the sequel to The Miniaturist, we are swept back to Amsterdam in 1705, on the morning of Thea Brandt’s eighteenth birthday and the beginning of her adult life. For Thea, that means following her dream of marrying Walter, the lead set-painter at the playhouse. For her Aunt Nella, it means finding Thea a rich husband to restore the family’s fortunes.
Nella meets the man she intends for Thea to wed at a ball, but both Thea and her father, Otto, are against the match. Each member of the family is determined to have their way: Nella to marry Thea off to a wealthy Amsterdammer; Thea to wed her secret lover; and Otto to launch a pineapple plantation on Nella’s abandoned family land. In the background haunting the family is the specter of Thea’s mother who died on the day of her birth and the miniaturist, who has once again taken an interest in the family.
I have not read The Miniaturist and it’s not necessary to fully follow this story, but the backstory of Nella and Otto is so compelling, and the mysterious woman’s hold on them so strong nearly two decades later, it’s got to be fantastic and I plan to rectify my oversight.
But to focus on this story, what I loved the most was the authenticity of Thea and Nella’s voice. I’ll admit, Thea irritated me a bit, but she’s headstrong and eighteen and those qualities shone through, whether you agreed with her choices or not. I could feel Nella’s stress, trying to hold on to respectability and her veneer of gentility while selling off the last family painting to buy food. This is what a character-driven novel should be. When their personalities jump off the page and stay with you after you finish reading the book.
However, it took me a little while to really get into the story. It started a bit slow, even for a quiet story, and the buildup was subtle. Although that buildup paid off with a twist that took me by surprise, which I always appreciate, and I loved the satisfying ending. I hope there’s a third book that continues on with the family’s journey.
I highly recommend this novel for anyone who loves historical fiction. The era and city really came to life under the author’s pen.
I rated this novel a very strong four stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA for providing the ARC copy of this book in return for my honest review.
Until next time, thank you for visiting.
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