This is the biggest book of 2014, and for good reason. Nella Oortman is married to a wealthy merchant and begins her new life in 17th Century Amsterdam. But Johannes Brandt’s home is full of secrets and is dominated by his sister, Marin. Nella doesn’t feel like the lady of the house, she doesn’t even have control of her cabinet-sized replica of their home. She is sent miniatures of the people around her, and they seem to be communicating something.
It is an unexpected read, there are twists and turns, everyone in the city of Amsterdam has a secret. That was the beauty of the city, as long as you could pay your own way, you and your dark secrets are welcome. Nella starts out cautious and almost childish, she pouts at being excluded. Despite all the challenges the Brandt household throws at her, she blooms and develops into a strong woman.
This debut novel is full of suspense. There is more than one skeleton in the closest keeping the pages turning. It’s also a historically rich novel, having visited Amsterdam, the author sets the scene perfectly. Jessie Burton takes the perceived city of sin and gives the city its beauty back; the canals, the parks, the industry. It was easily, my favourite novel of 2014.