Marriage to Johannes Brandt is an escape to Amsterdam for Nella from her own quiet village but she hasn't reckoned on her husband’s domineering sister, the tight-knit closeness of the household servants, or on Johannes’ constant avoidance of her in private. The biggest insult comes when Johannes presents her with a miniature cabinet of their house, which Nella considers an unsuitable gift for a wife. She makes the best of things and hires a Miniaturist to furnish the cabinet but the Miniaturist's replicas are eerily similar to reality and Nella fears that whatever secrets the house might hold will have fatal consequences. Jessie Burton has written a stunning novel, lavish and atmospheric, set in a period of Dutch history when Amsterdam, though still a jewel of trade and commerce, possessed a rotten core of religious hypocrisy and judgemental superiority.
Helen Corcoran. Dubray Books, Grafton Street