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Welcome to our audiobook review of “The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton. This historical novel has captivated readers all over the world, immersing them in a vividly described world of 17th century Amsterdam. In this review, we will explore the author’s literary style, the performance of the audiobook narrator, and the overall experience of experiencing “The Miniaturist” in audio format. Whether you are a fan of historical fiction, intrigued by the author, or simply looking for a new audiobook to enjoy, this review has everything you need to know.

About the Author, Jessie Burton

Jessie Burton is a British author born on April 1982 in London, England. She grew up in Wimbledon and studied English at Oxford University. Before becoming a full-time writer, Burton worked as a PA at a production company, a financial analyst, and an actor.

Burton is best known for her critically acclaimed debut novel “The Miniaturist,” which was published in 2014. The novel became an instant bestseller and has been translated into over 38 languages. In 2017, “The Miniaturist” was adapted into a miniseries by the BBC.

“Writing fiction is the most pleasurable thing I can do off my own back. It’s a luxury and a privilege. It’s wonderful to make things up, and incredibly cathartic to work through your own anxieties and ideas in story form.”

Other Works by Jessie Burton

In addition to “The Miniaturist,” Burton has written two other novels:

Title Year of Publication
The Muse 2016
The Confession 2019

Burton’s second novel, “The Muse,” is set in 1930s Spain and 1960s London, and explores themes of creativity, identity, and art theft. “The Confession,” her most recent work, follows the intertwined lives of three women – a young woman in 1980s Los Angeles, a reclusive painter in 1970s Spain, and a betrayed wife in 1940s Germany.

Despite having only a few published works, Jessie Burton has quickly become a household name in the literary world. Her captivating stories and beautiful prose have earned her a loyal following of readers and critics alike.

Synopsis of “The Miniaturist”

The story takes place in 1686 Amsterdam, where the eighteen-year-old bride, Nella arrives at the house of her new husband, Johannes Brandt, who is twice her age and a wealthy merchant trader. Nella is initially disappointed with her cold welcome, but Johannes’ sister, Marin, takes her under her wing and gives her an exquisite wedding present: a cabinet-sized model of their home for Nella to decorate with lifelike miniatures. Nella commissions a miniaturist to create pieces for the cabinet and, as the miniatures arrive, they seem to provide glimpses into the family’s secrets. Suspenseful and richly atmospheric, The Miniaturist is a captivating novel that explores themes of love, betrayal, and personal empowerment.

“Richly detailed and beautifully written, The Miniaturist is a gem. Burton combines a remarkable gift for language with an uncanny ability to depict an historical period in vibrant, compelling detail. Her characters are fully realized and unforgettable. A marvelous debut.”

Historical Context of the Novel

“The Miniaturist” takes place in Amsterdam during the late 17th century, a time when the Dutch were experiencing unprecedented wealth and power. This was also the period known as the Dutch Golden Age, an era of immense artistic and cultural achievement, marked by the likes of famous painters Rembrandt and Vermeer. In this historical context, “The Miniaturist” brings to life the story of Nella Oortman, a young woman who arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of a wealthy merchant.

The novel presents an in-depth look at the customs and norms of Dutch society at the time, exploring social hierarchies, gender roles, and religious conflicts. Additionally, it touches upon significant historical events such as the Dutch Republic’s war with Spain, which had a significant impact on the country’s political landscape and economic stability.

“Burton creates a richly detailed world that immerses readers in the sights, sounds, and attitudes of this particular historical period.”

The historical context of “The Miniaturist” plays a crucial role in shaping the characters and their actions, as well as contributing to the overall atmosphere of the novel. By evoking the unique time and place in which the story is set, Burton adds a level of depth and authenticity to her work that is both enlightening and captivating.

Audiobook Edition Details

If you prefer to listen to books rather than read them, “The Miniaturist” audiobook edition is an excellent option. Here are some essential details about the audiobook version:

Narrator Anna Bentinck
Length 9 hours and 1 minute
Additional Features The audiobook includes an author interview with Jessie Burton

Anna Bentinck delivers a captivating performance, bringing to life the diverse range of characters in “The Miniaturist”. Her interpretation of the book will leave listeners engrossed in the story until the very end. The 9-hour length of the audiobook provides a perfect balance of detail and pacing to keep the listener engaged throughout the entire experience. The author interview included in the audiobook provides fascinating insights into Jessie Burton’s inspiration and creative process.

audiobook edition details

Narrator’s Performance

One of the most critical factors in any audiobook is the quality of the narrator’s performance. In the case of “The Miniaturist,” the narrator does an excellent job of bringing the story to life with a captivating delivery that keeps listeners engaged from start to finish. The voice quality is clear and pleasant, making it easy to follow along with the narrative.

Moreover, the narrator’s characterization in “The Miniaturist” deserves commendation, as she successfully adopts different accents and tones to reflect various characters’ personalities. This skillful display of voice acting adds an extra layer of depth to the novel, making it a delightful listening experience.

In conclusion, the narrator’s performance in “The Miniaturist” is top-notch and enhances the overall audiobook experience. Listeners won’t be disappointed with the exceptional delivery and quality of narration.

Writing Style and Language

In “The Miniaturist,” Jessie Burton showcases her exceptional writing style and use of language, transporting readers to 17th century Amsterdam with vivid descriptions and well-crafted prose. Through her beautiful use of language, Burton expertly captures the historical setting and creates a believable world that readers can fully immerse themselves in.

Moreover, the dialogue in the audiobook is delivered with authenticity and depth, adding another layer of realism to the story. Burton’s use of descriptive techniques is equally impressive, with intricately painted scenes that stimulate the senses and evoke emotions within the listener.

“Burton’s writing style is nothing short of remarkable. Her use of language is both evocative and intricate, transporting the reader to another time and place with ease.”

For example, in one scene, Burton describes a busy Amsterdam marketplace:

“Her canvases are inclined to folkish charm. Frogs nestled in reeds, knights clashing swords, pigs fattened on acorns for the market. The street is filled with the mingled smells of cigar smoke, strong coffee, and piles of fish.”

This description not only provides a visual image of the setting but also includes sensory details like smells, making the environment feel even more alive. Overall, Jessie Burton’s writing style and language use make “The Miniaturist” an engrossing and unforgettable literary experience.

Character Development

“The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton is a well-crafted novel that takes the reader on a captivating journey of growth and self-discovery. Character development is a central aspect of this book, as each character goes through significant changes throughout the story.

The author has done an incredible job of creating characters that are multi-dimensional and complex, making them feel relatable and authentic. There are no one-dimensional stereotypes here, with each character having their own motivations and struggles.

Most notably, the protagonist Nella undergoes a profound transformation throughout the book. Starting as a naïve and sheltered young woman, she is forced to confront the harsh realities of her world as she becomes embroiled in the dark secrets of her new family. Through these experiences, she grows to become a strong and resilient woman who is not afraid to fight for what she believes in.

Other characters, such as the enigmatic and mysterious miniaturist, also undergo significant changes and growth throughout the story. Burton expertly weaves together their storylines, creating a rich tapestry of interconnected character arcs that leave a lasting impact on the reader.

“The Miniaturist is a novel that truly shines in its character development. Each character feels like a real, flesh and blood person, making it easy to become invested in their stories and their fates.”

Themes Explored

Throughout “The Miniaturist,” Jessie Burton explores a variety of central themes, which add complexity and depth to the story. One of the key ideas that the author addresses is the role of women in society in the late 17th century. Burton paints a vivid picture of the restrictions and limitations faced by women at the time, highlighting the importance of gender roles in shaping individuals’ lives.

Another prevalent theme in the novel is the tension between appearance and reality. Burton examines how people’s public personas often mask more complex and troubling private realities. This theme is particularly evident in the character of Johannes Brandt, who presents himself as a cultured and successful merchant, but is hiding a number of dangerous secrets.

The novel also explores themes of love, desire, and tolerance. Through her depiction of the relationship between Petronella and Johannes, Burton highlights the challenges and complexities of romantic love in a time of intense social scrutiny. The novel also delves into issues of race and diversity, as seen in the character of Cornelia, a mixed-race woman who faces prejudice and discrimination in Amsterdam.

Through her exploration of these themes, Burton creates a rich and complex world that is both historically accurate and timeless in its relevance to contemporary issues.

themes explored in The Miniaturist

Pacing and Plot Structure

One of the strengths of “The Miniaturist” is Jessie Burton’s expert pacing and masterful plot structure. The story flows seamlessly, with just the right amount of tension and suspense to keep readers engrossed from beginning to end.

Burton establishes an engaging plot from the very first chapter, drawing readers into the story and setting up the central conflict. From there, she skillfully weaves in additional plot elements, building towards the novel’s satisfying conclusion.

Despite the many twists and turns of the plot, Burton ensures that each development feels organic and earned. There are no gratuitous plot twists or contrived turns. Instead, every event serves a purpose and contributes to the overall narrative.

The pacing of “The Miniaturist” is also expertly handled. Burton creates a sense of momentum throughout the novel, deftly transitioning between scenes and keeping the action moving forward. Even during quieter moments, there is a sense of underlying tension and unease.

“The plot of “The Miniaturist” is expertly crafted, with just enough twists and turns to keep things interesting without feeling overwhelming. Jessie Burton’s skillful pacing ensures that the story is consistently engaging.”

Atmosphere and Setting

The atmospheric elements and vivid settings created by Jessie Burton in “The Miniaturist” greatly enhance the audio experience. Listeners are transported to 17th century Amsterdam, where they can almost smell the aromas of the bustling marketplace and feel the chill of winter on the canals. With masterful description and attention to detail, Burton creates a fully immersive world that engages the listener’s senses and draws them deeper into the story.

The meticulous attention to setting serves a greater purpose, as it reflects and emphasizes the themes and mood of the narrative. For example, the closed and restrictive atmosphere of the Brandt household reflects the oppressive expectations and limitations placed on women during this time period, while the stark class divide in society is accentuated by the contrasting descriptions of the wealthy homes and impoverished neighborhoods.

In summary, the exquisite attention to detail in Jessie Burton’s writing brings the historical setting of “The Miniaturist” to life, providing listeners with a fully immersive and engaging experience.

Reception and Critical Acclaim

Since its release in 2014, “The Miniaturist” has received widespread critical acclaim and positive reception from readers. The novel was a New York Times bestseller and has been translated into over 38 languages. It won the Waterstones Book of the Year and was shortlisted for several other literary awards.

“Jessie Burton conjures the thrill of seventeenth-century Amsterdam with haunting finesse.”

One of the most notable reviews came from The Guardian, which praised the book’s “exquisite detail and evocative atmosphere.” The reviewer notes that Burton’s meticulous research and beautiful prose bring the story to life, saying, “Every page carries a whiff of brine, a hint of spice and a powerful sense of impending doom.”

Other reviewers echo this sentiment, noting the immersive nature of Burton’s writing and the gripping storyline. The novel has been described as haunting, mysterious, and enchanting, drawing readers in from the very first page.

Overall, “The Miniaturist” has cemented its place as a beloved work of historical fiction, captivating readers and critics alike with its riveting narrative and vivid setting. Its critical acclaim and commercial success are a testament to the enduring power of Burton’s storytelling.

Comparisons to Other Works

While “The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton is a unique and captivating historical novel, it shares similarities with other works of fiction. One such work is “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” by Tracy Chevalier. Both novels are set in the 17th century and explore the relationships between artists and their subjects. While “The Miniaturist” focuses on a miniaturist who creates a mysterious dollhouse, “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” centers on the relationship between painter Johannes Vermeer and his subject, Griet.

Another similar work is “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah. This novel is also set in a historical context, taking place during World War II in France. Like “The Miniaturist,” “The Nightingale” explores the themes of family relationships, secrets, and the courage to resist oppression. However, while “The Miniaturist” is a slow-burning mystery, “The Nightingale” is a heartbreaking tale of war and survival.

Despite these similarities, “The Miniaturist” stands apart with its unique blend of historical accuracy, suspenseful storytelling, and captivating characters. Jessie Burton’s skillful writing and attention to detail make this novel a stand-out work of fiction that is sure to delight readers and listeners alike.

Personal Recommendation

After evaluating the audiobook edition of “The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton, we highly recommend it to anyone seeking an engrossing historical novel brought to life through an excellent narrator’s interpretation.

The remarkable story, vividly described characters, and engrossing plot are elevated by the narrator’s performance, bringing to life the unique historical setting and exploring the themes of society, family, and secrets.

With a running time of approximately 9 hours and 13 minutes, it is an excellent choice for long road trips or daily commutes. The excellent performance by the narrator and the compelling story are sure to keep listeners engaged and entertained throughout.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a captivating historical novel, we highly recommend giving “The Miniaturist” audiobook a try, as it is a powerful and thought-provoking novel that is sure to leave a lasting impression.


After a thorough evaluation of the audiobook edition of “The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton, we highly recommend it to readers who enjoy historical fiction and engaging audiobooks. With its captivating plot, vivid characters, and atmospheric setting, this novel is a true masterpiece. The narrator’s performance adds depth to the story, making it an even more enjoyable and immersive experience for listeners. The writing style and language are top-notch, and the author’s attention to detail in character development and pacing are impressive.

Listeners will appreciate the novel’s exploration of themes such as gender roles, individual freedom, and societal norms, making it a thought-provoking and socially relevant work of fiction. The book’s historical context is well-researched, offering readers an insight into a fascinating period of Dutch history.

In conclusion, “The Miniaturist” audiobook is a literary gem that deserves the critical acclaim and recognition it has received. The seamless narration and excellent writing make it a must-listen for audiobook enthusiasts and historical fiction fans. Give this audiobook a chance, and you won’t regret it.

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