The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton: Musing Monday

alberta's book reviews

When I thought of today I was going to write about a book I was reading, however, I stayed up so late I finished  it so it will be a book I have just finished reading. I must stop doing that, I have such problems waking up and functioning next day if I read until 2-3 in the a.m:(

we have all been there though I am sure, when leaving a book just to sleep seems to be impossible.  Far too often in my life have I done this:)

The Miniaturist

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift; a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations ring eerily true.

As Nella uncovers the secrets of her new household, she realises the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands – but does she plan to save or destroy them?

 

Lovely book.

I had had a mixed bag of good, okay’ish and ‘don’t like that much’ books lately. Many of them for the book groups I belong to. None were awful, a couple were disappointing and some I think were just me, or the mood I was in..

So it was with trepidation I approached The Miniaturist, another book group read. Weary from the long reads of Wool by Hugh Howey 500 pages and Citadel by Kate Mosse 1000 pages, I groaned as I reached for it, 400 pages – not so bad:) . It accompanied me to the garage to find out what bad news they would give on the car. It was bad, bad, bad, but the trepidation about the book, the shock of the estimated bill were not enough to dim this book. What a delight it was from beginning to end. A book where the loss is felt after the pages close, when another book is impossible for a day or two.

17th century Amsterdam. A city built on reclaimed land and trade from every corner of the globe. A naive young bride, a rich merchant husband who is reluctant to consummate the marriage, his sour sister, a Negro man servant and a outspoken maid. Living unconventional lives within a conventional and hypocritical society of fabulously wealthy elite and a thundering Calvinistic religion.

And of course a doll’s house.

I discovered after I had finished it that this is a Marmite* book. Rave reviews or scorn. Nothing, it appears, in the middle. For me, the story flowed along beautifully, like an old river. Each character so different, the claustrophobic feel of a society of long ago was, for me, interesting. The unseen but ever present miniaturist is the creepy part. Is she friend or foe, how does she know so much of this fairly closed household, how does she know the secret lives. Is she an insider that she knows so much or . . .or. . . is this a delicious bit of magic realism?

It is a story with some endings predictable and others left hanging. A book to weep over and to wonder at after the event. For a debut novel it was impressive.

  • Marmite for those who do not know is a dark brown yeast and salt based food paste with a advertising slogan ‘Love it or Hate it’ and is now used generally as a metaphor for polarized positions on any subject

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

Musing Mondays | BooksAndABeat.com

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Approximately how many books do you usually read per week? Per month?

How many a week, a month. It is so dependant on how much time, how much work, how many social commitments or appointments. On my mood, health, family’s mood and health. Is the sun shining, is it pouring with rain or blowing a gale . Some weeks I read book after book then I may go for a week without picking one up.
I can report that my Goodreads challenges for the past few years come in at

2012 = 64 books

2013  =  120 books

2015 =  106 books

2016 so far = 23 books

I don’t remember why 2014 is missing I would have read but I was in the middle of a great depression so maybe didn’t register on the book challenge. 2012 I was ill most of the year with massive migraine type headaches which had to operated on, so reading was difficult.

I used to read a lot more when I was young and cutting edge – late night sessions didn’t bother me so much – massive books were easier to hold before wrists gave out and I spent a lot of time on public transport so reading times were extended:)

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I grounded the car for bad behaviour!: Friday Finds

FRIDAY FINDS  from adailyrhythm showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

FridayFinds-ADailyRhythm

 

You had all better sit to receive this next bit of news – I did NOT BUY any books this week — yes yes that’s correct, no money was exchanged this week on books.

Can hardly believe it myself.

It is such a rare event.

I cannot claim any virtue in this state of affairs, I was going too. Wednesday is book group day – held in a bookshop! Yeah all you addicts know what that entails:) however on Tuesday the car began to behave badly. What? I couldn’t decide it sounded like not just exhaust but maybe clutch problems at the same time. I do hope it isn’t either, or both. I have an appointment with the garage tomorrow and in the meantime I have grounded the car for bad behaviour.

I never made the book group = never bought any books:) I didn’t even turn to the Internet because if my worst fears are realized it will be a long time before I can afford any more books – sigh:)

I do have some new reads though. The Tuesday saw me at the library book group – so have next month’s book and three others I borrowed at the same time.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (next month’s read. I have seen the film and am hoping the book is much better!

Mr G by Allan Lightman (this one sounds intriguing – great hopes for it)

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (have been meaning to read this for ages)

Wise Words and Country Ways by Ruth Binney (It is always fun reading what our forbears believed in and this book promises more – whether there is any truth to old wives tales and the origins of some of the others. A good cherry-pick book)

Gone GirlMr g: A Novel About The CreationOn Chesil BeachWise Words And Country Ways

 

So four new reads – can’t be bad:)

Wool by Hugh Howey and Musing Monday.

alberta's book reviewsI have just spent a couple of days reading Wool by Hugh Howey- it was a book group choice, I knew nothing about it, had not read reviews or been recommended it. Running at 561 pages I crossed my fingers and hoped for a good read.

I was not disappointed.
I neglected a fair amount of stuff so that I could continue reading – went to bed far too late.

I found it quite unputdownable.

A true dystopian, as opposed to zombie led ones. The opposite of Sir Thomas Moore’s Utopia and the genre spawned by such.

This is a story of hundreds of years of living in a huge underground silo. Over a hundred levels of humanity. At first, all seems well. The population wait patiently for the day when they can leave the silo. For the world to cleanse itself of the poisons outside.

The world of deception and lies is slowly unravelled and, for me, the tension and anticipation grew at just the right pace to keep me turning those pages. I laughed, cried, chewed my lip, and worried equally. I found the characters real and, whether good or bad, they were well drawn and believable. The heroine – great – my kind of heroine. Feisty and intelligent. Also a natural born rebel.

Such a good book and then I find there are two more volumes to read – well how good is that:)

MusingMondays-ADailyRhythm

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: How do you choose  the books you read?

How do I choose a book to read? I haven’t really ever thought very hard about it.

There are some titles which just leap into my hands like

The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson – what’s not to intrigue in that one.

Or The Remarkable Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Or  Gaiman’s,  The Ocean at the End of the Lane

I wouldn’t really care what genre if the title grabs me.

Then there is I suppose the cover. All I know is what puts me off so much I won’t even read the blurb. Pictures of ‘sexy’ men with six packs, temptress women, hair flowing and more flesh than covering. Anything with a vampire on it. I don’t like the pastel ‘sweet’ pictures that I associate with chick lit. There are not many covers I  object to. Apart from those mentioned.

The blurb will tell me if the premise of the book is appealing. Then I may read a couple of pages to see if the style inspires confidence.

Many new finds and enjoyable reads have come about by recommendations from friends or even, on one or two occasions, complete strangers:)

Of course, there is a host of authors, already known to me, that I will comfortable reading their next publication with no second thoughts.

I enjoy books from almost every genre.

A  new author excites the most – the chance to find a new author, a stunning story, an imagination which thrills, to experience new sensations, to live in another life.

After so many decades I don’t often make a mistake in the choosing. Sometimes I am surprised, in book groups, I have often read away from my comfort zone and found something to appeal in a book I would not have picked up myself. A good reminder that an open mind is necessary.

One day I will write ‘no books! :Friday Finds

FRIDAY FINDS  from adailyrhythm showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

FridayFinds-ADailyRhythm

I already had the book choice for next month at the last reading group, and far to many fictional books on that tottering pile . I wasn’t going to take home any more books.

I wasn’t.

I did.

Shame.

Anyway I wandered over to the non fiction section and found these three. I’m an avid reader of The New Scientist magazine so I had no hesitation in picking those two up

Non fiction

This Changes Everything by Naomi Aklein which is apparently provides a historically refined expose of ‘capitalism’s drift toward monopoly’ and more.

Chance ed Michael Brooks (New Scientist) The science and secrets of luck, randomness and probability

Question Everything ed Mick O’Hare (New Scientist) – 132 science questions – and their unexpected answers

Fiction:

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr which was recommended to me a few weeks ago. A Second World War story but from a different perspective – it sounds like a good read.

So as you can see I haven’t been good – yet again!!

I am determined one day to write- NO BOOKS this week !:)

A marshland of uncertainties: YA over 60 years .

 reading passion