Blogmas Day 16 – Guest Post: Favourite Book of 2018 with Molly!

Hey guys! Welcome back to another day of Blogmas 2018! Today we have the wonderful Molly here with a guest post all about her favourite book of 2018!

A huge thank you to Molly (from Molly Elizabeth Marcelle Books) for collaborating with me to do this post. I thought this would be a really fun way to give you guys another bookish recommendation (and one I haven’t gotten around to reading yet) as well as introducing you to a fab book blogger that you might not already follow. If you haven’t checked out Molly’s blog yet, what are you waiting for?!

Hey to all of Hannah’s followers, I’m Molly from Molly Elizabeth Marcelle Books. 2018 has been the year of excellent books for me, I have read so much amazing stuff that when I sat down and thought about my favourite book of2018 I really struggled. I, therefore, put writing this post off, but then… I started reading Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist and it really amazed me. I fell in love with The Muse which I read this summer and as this was her debut novel, I knew I needed to get my hands on it. I spotted it in my local charity bookshop for £1 and I nabbed it so fast. The only sad thing is that it isn’t the original cover but the BBC series version, but we can’t complain about £1. I do realise I am 4 years late to this bandwagon but better late than never.

Synopsis

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office–leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home.To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist–an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Plot

I loved this plot of this. As I am sure you can tell from the synopsis there is an element of mystery and spookiness about this book. The mystery about the cabinet miniatures is captivating throughout, however I don’t feel this is the focus of the story. This book is very character focused and so I felt like the plot was more driven about what happened to the characters. I constantly kept trying to piece together what was happening with the Miniaturist as you never see her or know why she knows all these things about Petronella’s life. But I never came to a resolution. There is definitely a lovely intertwining theme of magic in this book, but not too fantastical for it to be unbelievable.

Other themes in this book are attitudes to race (which is also a theme in the Muse) as one of the servants is a black man called Otto. Obviously, this book is set in17th century Amsterdam, and the public is very discriminitive against Otto. The general feel is that Johanne (Nella’s husband) is a bit peculiar for having a black servant. But in their household, he is treated equally to his other servant Cornelia and he is highly valued by his master.

***Spoiler***

Another theme is attitude to homosexuality. The family dynamic within Nella’s new marital home is far from ordinary (by 17th century Amsterdam standards I mean). It turns out that whilst she thought she was going into a romantic relationship, her marriage was actually more of an exchange and her husband is gay. Nella struggles to deal with this at first, as her attitudes are formed from her religious views, but throughout the book she comes to accept her husband as not a sinner or wrong, but as her husband. I think the thing that resonates most with her comes from Marin, Johanne’s sister, “it’s something in his soul and you cannot get it out”. I found Nella’s transformation in her attitude toward her husband really interesting and it was definitely positive in the end despite how betrayed she felt in the beginning.

The ending was really sad, and even more tragic. Although the explanation for the Miniaturist wasn’t as fleshed out and interesting as I would have liked it to be. However, it was so tragic and made me feel so much sadness, but I was glad about the character development of Nella.

Characters

As I said, this book was definitely character driven. I feel like the characters were some of the best that I have read this year. The main character is Nella and she just made it for me. At first, it seems she might be a bit passive, as her dreams involved marrying and having children. However, it becomes clear quickly that this is just her romantic attitude towards life. Not only does she want to do a duty to her husband, but she also wants to love him and for him to love her. She dreads having to be sexual with her husband but however synonymously this experience excited her. She has an extremely inquisitive nature and is not scared to ask questions despite often getting rejected from her husband and Marin who don’t easily let her into the family secrets. Johanne is a merchant, and she is extremely eager to learn about the business and offer her insight. She surprises him that she is more intelligent than he anticipated (as she is only 18). Her character development was extraordinary, not only did she get over the original homophobic attitude and became to understand her husband, but she became autonomous and independent in making decisions on his behalf. Although the marriage disappointed her in the sense it didn’t offer her love, she loves the family in a different way.

I’d say the book is mainly centred around the female characters, as Johannes is often away from his family doing business. The other female character is Marin, who is extremely misunderstood by Nella as being selfish and a bit odd. However, as the text goes on, we start to understand Marin and her motives. For example, at first, Nella believes that she doesn’t marry and is a failure, however it comes to light that this was a personal choice and she instead wanted to be independent.

I loved that the characters were mainly female focused, and I think the way she wrote the characters were believable and lovely. I loved their growth and the headstrong nature of both characters I have spoken about. The character development of this book is brilliant and as I said before, these are some of the best and most complex I have read this year.

Writing

This book was definitely one of those that you don’t want to put down, the writing was beautiful yet also very readable. I also think that it was incredibly easy to picture the place, which I sometimes struggle with when books are set a long time ago in a country I don’t know and 17th century Amsterdam isn’t something I am particularly familiar with.

The one aspect of Jessie Burton’s writing that I really enjoyed was the fact that she shows her characters without overtly stating what their personality was like. From the offset, I got the impression of who the characters were and what they were like without a lengthy background.

I’d love to know if anyone else has read this book or her other book The Muse, as I absolutely loved both of them and they have been highlighted reads for methis year. Like Hannah, I am doing Blogmas this year and you can check out someof my other Blogmas posts here including Hannah’s favourite book of the year!

Molly x

Have you read this book? What did you think? It’s currently on my TBR list!

Thank you for checking out my Blogmas 2018 posts and I can’t wait to share the rest with you! Check back tomorrow for more festive fun 

I’d also just like to point out that I don’t want to cause any offence to those who don’t celebrate Christmas, these posts are just a bit of fun to go along with my own personal celebrations.

You can always find me over on Instagram and Twitter if you fancy a book (or Christmas) chat! 

4 thoughts on “Blogmas Day 16 – Guest Post: Favourite Book of 2018 with Molly!

  1. This is such a well-written review. I’ve not read any book of this particular author. But your vivid writing made me to add “The Miniaturist” promptly on my TBR list. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Liked by 1 person

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