Amsterdam 1686 – The Miniaturist part two

Following on from yesterday’s post, we’re back in Amsterdam with Jessie Burton – and are on our way along the canals past the houses spotted in the Miniaturist novel to enter once again into Nella’s new home and into her life..

A house in Amsterdam which Nella could have walked past every time she went in search of the Miniaturist - (c) Jessie Burton
A house in Amsterdam which Nella could have walked past every time she went in search of the Miniaturist – (c) Jessie Burton

Today we venture further in to the world of The Miniaturist ……..Nella’s husband has just given her a wedding gift that will change her life….

The real dollhouse in the Rijksmuseum which inspired the story..
The real dollhouse in the Rijksmuseum which inspired the story..

The dollhouse

When her husband first gives her a cabinet house, which is an exact replica of their own house, miniaturized and unfurnished, she is at first offended having been given a toy although she is no child. Then she is told to furnish it which she takes as yet another order and of having to obey and do what is expected of her.

However her attempt to fill the house leads her to contacting a Miniaturist who she instructs to make items to furnish the house. The first order is completed but then mysterious parcels start to appear including startling models of its occupants – items which don’t appear to stay the same, changing their appearance as events in Nella’s cloistered existence start to open up..

The Mysterious Miniaturist

The-Miniaturist

This miniaturist seems to be someone with intimate knowledge of Nella’s life and this someone is not only watching her but appears to be able to predict what will happen next.

Who is the Miniaturist?

What does she know?

What is she trying to tell Nella?

Just what kind of secrets are bound up in these parcels?

The Kalverstraat

Just off Kalverstraat - (c)Jessie Burton
Just off Kalverstraat – (c)Jessie Burton

The Kalverstraat – where the sign of the sun is – where Nella goes to employ the services of the Miniaturist . On one of the parcels she receives has something written on it around a picture of the sun – 

The sign of the sun - (c) Jessie Burton
The sign of the sun – (c) Jessie Burton

EVERY WOMAN IS THE ARCHITECT OF HER OWN FORTUNE

At a time where Nella herself concludes that women don’t build anything let alone their own fortunes, this is a hint of things to come…..

The canals

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

Amsterdam at the time of the Golden Age was a frenzied hub of trade and activity in sugar loaves and other commodities. The book comes alive even here with the sights, sounds and smells of the canals and their significance coming alive right off the page – 

Nella turns to the canals as bargemen’s laughter rises up the opposite brickwork. A puny lad has skittled into a woman and her basket of fish, and a half-dead herring slithers down the wide front of the seller’s skirt.

A sugar loaf of the time
A sugar loaf of the time

The sugar trade

There is a lot of historical fact in this novel – the research is impeccable – although it always adds to the story and never detracts from the action or characters. It is a fine way to learn about the Golden Age…

Sugar loaves figure significantly in the story. Sugar at the time was routinely formed into solid cone shapes for shipping. Sugar Loaf mountain in Brazil, named for its shape like a sugar loaf suddenly seems a lot more obvious now.

If you want to not only travel but be transported to the Dutch Golden Age…

If you are intrigued by magic…

If you love a good mystery with as many unexpected twists not unlike the streets around the canals…

If you want to open a door only to find another one…and this one has a mystery behind it…

Nothing is hidden that will not be revealed

Come by tomorrow when we have a cuppa and a cake with none other than Jessie Burton herself! I  will be cleaning the Delft pottery today in preparation. I’ve borrowed a parakeet from the local petshop, have some pufferts in the oven too… we’re all set.

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