I fell completely in love with this book and finished it in two days. Although this is Jessie Burton’s second book, it is the first one I’ve read. My mum had bought The Miniaturist when it first came out and even though she’d offered it to me, I’d turned it down…. And I’m not really sure why, because after reading The Muse, I went straight over to the bookshelf and picked up The Miniaturist and added it to my reading pile!
This book is based in the 1930s and 1960s and tells two stories that are very much entwined.
In the 1930s we meet Olive, who has arrived in Spain with her parents. On their first day, brother and sister duo – Isaac and Teresa – arrive to help out with the food, the garden and the cleaning. Olive is captivated by both of them and develops a huge crush on Isaac. The adrenaline of it all, kickstarts Olive to paint again and when she discovers that Isaac is also an artist, it seems the two of them could do great things in the art world.
Fast forward to the ’60s and we meet Odelle, who has just started a new job as a typewriter for a company that specialises in finding and distributing fine art. Her boss; Quick, takes her under her wing and begins to open up to her.
Odelle meets Laurie at a party and as they begin to get to know each other, Laurie shows her a painting that his mother left to him… This leads to Laurie bringing his painting to her offices. Quick takes one look at the painting and runs off.
As Odelle pushes Quick to open up and Quick becomes more and more reserved, the story flicks back and forth to the ’30s and the connection between the two eras becomes apparent – the painting.
The build up to finding what Quick’s exact connection to the painting was exciting, up until the last few pages I was still unsure whether she was Olive or Teresa.
This book had a lot of depth, there were a lot of connections to discover – the more prominent ones being between Lawrie, his mother and Quick, but there was also a lot of substance to the characters: Odelle was a keen writer and Quick helped her publish her first short story, Sarah (Olive’s mother) was plagued with a supposed illness that no one understood and Teresa collected objects and secrets like they were treasure.
The saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is definitely felt to be true throughout this book – the painting that Laurie wishes to sell tells much more than a mythical story, it tells the story of the painter and the people that were there.
When I finished reading the last page, I found myself feeling rather sad – this wasn’t because I thought the ending was sad – it was a sadness that the story was over. I’m wondering how to best describe how I felt because most people would say they get that with most good books, but I’d probably differentiate these feelings by saying: when I finish a good book, I feel content and happy that I’ve read an incredible story and I look forward to reading their next book; whereas when I finish a book like this I feel disappointed that the story won’t continue, that I’ll never find out what will happen to the characters next. Make sense? I haven’t felt like this over a book in a LONG time, in fact the last time I can remember feeling like this… was when I read the final chapter of the Harry Potter series.
Either way, I’m excited to start reading The Miniaturist because I’m hooked on Burton’s ability to catapult you into the story world she’s created.
Until next time, Chloé x