In this novel, set in 1680’s Amsterdam we follow Nella, an 18 year-old from a previously wealthy family, now given in marriage to a successful merchant twice her age.
At first excited at this marriage, she is quickly perturbed by her husband’s lack of interest in her, and by her domineering sister-in-law. It does not take the reader long to realise that Nella’s husband is gay, although it takes her somewhat longer. At this time homosexuality would have been punished by death, hence we discover the marriage has taken place to protect his reputation. There are further mysteries in this household, which we gradually come to learn about through the novel.
Alongside the story of Nella fitting into this family and discovering their secrets, lies the mystery of the Miniaturist. She is sending unsolicited parcels to Nella, for her doll house, eerily replicating the real life around her.
This is an enjoyable, if sad, novel to read. The first half was a little slow going, but a gripping ending follows. Nella is an engaging main character who you come to sympathise for and admire.