It’s been a while. Not because I haven’t been reading, but simply because I haven’t been reading anything new. I’ve been really busy and that tends to mean I like the comfort of old books rather than something I have to really concentrate on but still, I have managed to finish a new one today.
Well, I say new, it’s not a new book but it is to me. <a rel=”nofollow” href=”https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1447250931/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=1447250931&linkCode=as2&tag=emilslitemusi-21″>The Miniaturist</a><img src=”http://ir-uk.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=emilslitemusi-21&l=as2&o=2&a=1447250931″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” /> was one of those books that kept being mentioned to me in passing by people who seemed to just assume that I must have read it. When I found myself beginning to tear my own hair out because I had listened to the entire Harry Potter series twice through on audiobook and was in desperate need of something new, I saw it as a good opportunity to remedy my own ignorance.
I have to say, I didn’t love it. Not because it’s not a good book, but just because it wasn’t really my cup of tea. For a start, I don’t generally do period pieces besides the classics. I also had the mantra ‘it’s just like <a rel=”nofollow” href=”https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1844080382/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=1844080382&linkCode=as2&tag=emilslitemusi-21″>Rebecca</a><img src=”http://ir-uk.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=emilslitemusi-21&l=as2&o=2&a=1844080382″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />’ going through my head from the start which is not entirely fair but not all that unfair either, but either way, it sort of prevented me seeing this in its own right.
It takes a long time to really get to the bottom of what The Miniaturist is actually about. It starts with Nella, our young, newly wedded protagonist arriving at her new husband’s home. He is much older and their marriage was definitely one out of convenience rather than love. She arrives to find, not her husband, but his sister, Marin, a maid and an ex-slave now in the family’s employ. Her husband is away on business, is frequently away on business, and she finds herself all the way down the bottom of the pecking order in her new household.
There is a lot going on here. I usually don’t like making this criticism but it’s trying to do too much. There’s race, sexuality, identity, destiny etc etc etc. all with a subtle dashing of the supernatural thrown in.
The characters are really interesting though. Marin was definitely my favourite. Endlessly mysterious, she is surrounded by rumours but refuses to ever rise to anybody’s bait. Nella starts as any stereotypical young wife is expected to start in a story like this: a bit whiny scared, innocent, but she quickly grows into someone you respect. She makes decisions that are not always logical but are mainly understandable and she cares deeply for her new family, even though they are not all she expected them to be.
The Miniaturist also tackles its pretty heavy wealth of themes in a rather bold way. There’s one scene that springs to mind but it would be something of a spoiler. Needless to say, despite an overblown doll’s house being at the centre of this story, it is not for children.
I guess the long and short of it is, if you have exactly the same taste in books as me, read it but prepare for it to not be all you hoped it would be, if you’re a bit more open minded, you’ll probably love it!
Book: The Doll’s House – MJ Arlidge
Audio: Out of Practice – Penny Parkes