Jessie Burton’s much-hyped debut almost lives up to its promise. Set in Amsterdam in the late 1600s, it offers a below-stairs view of Enlightenment Europe. Eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in the city as a young bride to wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Refused status by his cold, territorial sister, Marin, Nella seeks refuge in the kitchen below and the doll’s house version of the house that Johannes gives her as a wedding present. As she begins to furnish it, she falls in with a mysterious miniaturist, whose crafted pieces begin to foreshadow the family’s fate.
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