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….
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.
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.
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….
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….
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….