First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The Old Church, Amsterdam: Tuesday, 14th January 1687.

The funeral is supposed to be a quiet affair, for the deceased had no friends. But words are water in a Amsterdam, they flood your ears and set the rot, and the church’s east corner is crowded. She watches the scene unfold from the safety of the choir stall, as guildsmen and their wives approach the gaping grave like ants toward the honey. Soon, they are joined by WOC clerks and ship’s captains regentesses, pastry-makers — and him, still wearing that broad-brimmed hat. She tries to pity him. Pity unlike hate, can be boxed and put away.

Today’s first lines are taken from one of my favourite books of all time, The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.

I wasn’t going to post a first lines today, but when a photo came up on timehop reminding me that it was six years ago today that a friend sent me this copy after she’d read and loved it herself. I read it immediately and became an instant fan of the author. It is a truly outstanding debut that began my love affair with historical fiction.


The phenomenal number one bestseller and a major BBC TV series.
Winner of the Specsavers National Book Award and Waterstones Book of the Year.
A Richard and Judy Book Club selection.

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present 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 mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . .

Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, Jessie Burton’s magnificent debut novel The Miniaturist is a story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

I was fortunate enough to meet Ms Burton, and the talented Laura Purcell, at an event in October 2019. Her signature in my book made an already treasured novel become truly special.

Buy the book* (this is an affiliate link)

Have you read The Miniaturist? Let me know in the comments.

Thank you for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xx

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