The Miniaturist – Amsterdam 1686 – There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…

Forget World Cup excitement, for anyone in the bookworld right now, the anticipation for something quite different is reaching fever pitch.

If you have never been to Amsterdam, if you know nothing of the city’s wealthy area known as the  Golden Bend and the Herengracht canal, then you will soon be transported there….

The Herengracht today - image courtesy of Jessie Burton
The Herengracht today – image courtesy of Jessie Burton

And even if you know Amsterdam well, you will not have experienced 17th century Amsterdam at the time of the Golden Age and the birth of the Dutch East India Company, the bustling canals, the trade in sugar and other commodities and the secret goings on behind a door in Kalverstraat – 

The Kalverstraat is a long busy street away from the canal, where many sellers ply their trade. They no longer sell calves and cows there  but the manure from horses lends it a meaty, pungent atmosphere amidst the print and dye shops, the haberdashers and apothecaries.

The sign of the Sun - Image courtesy of Jessie Burton
The sign of the Sun – Image courtesy of Jessie Burton

But Nella has already spotted the sign of the sun. A small stone sun has been engraved in a plaque and embedded into the brickwork. Painted freshly gold it is a heavenly body come to earth, bright stone rays shooting out around its glowing orb. It’s too high up the wall and Nella wishes she could touch it.

Beneath the sun, a motto has been engraved: Everything Man sees He Takes for a Toy.

The detail on the book cover is as exquisite as the mini creations the artist herself makes

For this place on the Kalverstraat is the home of the Miniaturist…..

The Miniaturist is the most exciting premise we at the book trail have come across in fiction for a long time. It focuses on an object of beauty,  a miniature dolls house that is currently on display in the Rijksmuseum.  It was the miniature home of the ‘real’ Petronella Oortman  twice-widowed who lived with her silk merchant husband Johannes on the Warmoestraat and not the Heren canal as in the book. However where fact meets fiction is the desire to build  and own a doll house that became known as a wonder of the world….

The real miniature house on display at the Rijksmuseum
The real miniature house on display at the Rijksmuseum

Such houses were coveted by wealthy families during the Golden Age since they symbolised wealth and status. But the house in the Miniaturist is one gifted to a young fictionalised Nella who, in 1686, arrives in Amsterdam from the country to marry a wealthy merchant. He then gifts her a miniature version of their home which she then sets about furnishing it with exclusive and beautifully crafted items she receives from a Miniaturist.

On the parcel are written the words – 

Every woman is the architect of her own fortune

Nella is puzzled not only at this but at what is inside. She soon realises that she has received a lot more than she bargained for. The Miniaturist has sent additional items, items not requested or discussed…

And they appear to be mirroring the life of their real life counterparts in the most unexpected of ways….

(c) the booktrial
Photo on location (c) the booktrail

This is where the magic happens

This is where the future of its inhabitants will be played out in miniature form.

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed

July 3rd from Picador

More to be revealed soon….

2 thoughts on “The Miniaturist – Amsterdam 1686 – There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…

    1. ooh it is! I love the idea of miniature objects reflecting the real life counterparts and the fact its based on a real house is just so spellbinding! Takes me right back to Amsterdam too. Just wonderful

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