Petronella Oortman is a naive 18 year old girl who enters a marriage of convenience with a wealthy trader, Johannes Brandt. The year is 1687 and the setting is Amsterdam. The book reads very easily, as Nella must adjust to a household ruled by her sister-in-law Marin, nosy servants, and a husband who is rarely home. To help with her boredom, Johannes presents Nella with a gift – a cabinet house – and instructs her to purchase miniatures to fill the toy house. When she hires a miniaturist for the task, strange things begin to occur. The toy house reveals the secrets of the home she lives in and before long, Nella’s life is turned upside down.
I loved the fascinating backdrop of 17th century Amsterdam in this novel. Burton does a marvelous job presenting that society, it’s social mores and day to day living. The story itself is interesting and makes for a page-turner, although it felt as if too much of the author’s 21st century ideas crept into this book. Lastly, the supernatural events of the miniature house were a surprise. I felt if the author was going to delve into that world, she should have gone farther. It left a lot more questions than answers.
3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2014
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