Thursday, 30 April 2015

Who is she? The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

A book about a dolls house that controls people's lives, Hmmm.

Set in Amsterdam around a trader, his household and his new wife. We all commented on how we found the historical parts interesting having not read widely on the era/area before and how we liked the characters. So it got off to a good start but then so far no all controlling dolls house.

Then a strange miniaturist starts to deliver unasked for furniture and life like dolls to fill the expensive replica of the traders house given to the wife as a wedding present. How does this person have such knowledge of the households inhabitants and why are the deliveries of items such as a crib being made? It made us curious as to whether there was a super natural element to the book or whether the miniaturist knew the family and wanted to help/revenge certain characters. There were certainly secrets hinted to that the miniaturist could have been involved with to give the concept a logical explanation.

Where the book fell down though was the decision by the author not to give an explanation of who the miniaturist was and why she did what she did.

Events such as lethal stab wounds and hidden pregnancies were only revealed in the dolls house after they were discovered in real life. So really the dolls house wasn't controlling its inhabitants but mysteriously changing to follow real life as it unfolded. The author could still have pulled it back though by giving an explanation even if it was a super natural one but the woman supposedly behind the creations disappeared and so did that part of the story.

We all couldn't get away with this point. We felt it distracted from the otherwise excellent story of the family, the sugar, Amsterdam, society and the quite tragic endings to the trader and his sister. If it had just been about this I would have given the book a much higher score and I think most of the group agreed. However some of the group scored it highly as they could get past the miniaturist and just enjoy the story. For most we either wanted more or less of the miniaturist and we're left shouting (big brother stylie for those who can remember Nikki) who is she???

Writing this blog a couple of weeks after I read the book I can't remember anyones names which I always think is a bad sign in a book. We gave it 7.3

Next book Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

Question of the month. One of the sub themes throughout the book was food. The selling of the sugar, the herring, the marzipan which got me thinking of other foodie books. Which books are your favourite foodie books? Not cook books but ones that are food obsessed. My answer is The Food of Love by Anthony Capella. Mmm, hungry!