Burton returns with a captivating standalone companion to 2014’s The Miniaturist. In 1705 Amsterdam, 18-year-old Thea Brandt lives in a cold mansion with her father, Otto, a Black man who was formerly enslaved; her aunt Nella; and her elderly nursemaid and cook Cornelia. The family can barely afford the house, which Otto inherited, leading to Nella intensifying her efforts to find a wealthy husband for Thea, whose mother was white, and Otto thinking about partnering with a botanist to cultivate pineapples in Holland. Thea finds refuge at a nearby theater with her friend Rebecca, a fierce and talented leading lady; and Walter, the chief set-painter and Thea’s secret lover. However, after Walter breaks her heart, Thea resigns herself to marrying a wealthy lawyer from a prominent family. Throughout, the mysterious “miniaturist” of the previous book surreptitiously delivers warnings in the form of detailed figurines on Thea’s doorstep, each with its own eerie significance and seeming supernatural power, just as she had done years ago with Nella. While the ending feels a little abrupt, the vibrant period detail, the characters’ vibrant inner lives, and Thea’s fulfilling journey to maturity make for a winning combination. Readers will relish the return of Nella and her world. Agent: Jenny Bent, Bent Agency. (Aug.)
"[Burton] has a way of drawing us into her world—she’s particularly adept at navigating between different points of view—and of giving us Old Amsterdam in all its luxurious severity. And, as with the previous volume, Burton excels in the wrapping up. Nella, having pushed so hard to marry off her niece to an unloved suitor, finds . . . against all odds, an alternative family . . . no different in its essentials from any other." - New York Times Book Review
"Good news for the millions captivated by The Miniaturist, Burton’s debut: Small figurines are still appearing mysteriously decades later, now delivered to Nella Brandt’s niece. She is illegitimate, motherless, and madly, secretly in love. Eighteenth-century Amsterdam has never been steamier." - People Magazine
“The Dutch setting is masterfully evoked, both indoors and out, and the Brandts and their secrets are shrewdly depicted . . . Captivating.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“A beautifully written and wholly engrossing tale. New readers will be delighted that they can enjoy this book without having read the first one, but they'll probably seek it out to spend a bit more time in Burton's magical Amsterdam.” —Library Journal
“Jessie Burton is a master storyteller who brings 18th century Amsterdam to life. I felt I was in the city with Thea and Nella, and I felt for them as the chasm between the two widened. The cost of keeping secrets and the danger of not being able to communicate with those closest to us thrums through this exquisite page-turner.” —Janet Skeslien Charles, New York Times bestselling author of THE PARIS LIBRARY
“A more than worthy sequel to The Miniaturist. Elegant, atmospheric, compelling. I absolutely loved it.” —Marian Keyes, New York Times bestselling author of THE BRIGHTEST STAR IN THE SKY and AGAIN, RACHEL
“The most beautiful book you'll read this year. A spectacular achievement, this glittering glass bauble of brilliance, the story of Thea, will break your heart and put it back together again. Capturing how it was to be eighteen with such acuity and grace, I believed I was there again. Thought The Miniaturist was the end of the story? Think again. Shining, sinuous, truly a marvel.” —Kate Williams, New York Times bestselling author of BECOMING QUEEN VICTORIA
“Captivating . . . the vibrant period detail, the characters' vibrant inner lives, and Thea's fulfilling journey to maturity make for a winning combination. Readers will relish the return of Nella and her world.” —Publishers Weekly
“The captivating coming-of-age drama of Thea Brandt, a spirited Dutch-African girl longing for romance and impatient to launch her adult life while remaining shackled to her family's scandalous past. Burton's dark and opulent third novel explores the conflicting loyalties that influence Thea and threaten to undermine her ravenous desire for independence . . . Burton's narrative talents shine at full brilliance in The House of Fortune, offering a heady, hypnotic immersion into Thea's world that readers will be reluctant to leave.” —Shelf Awareness
“The House of Fortune is a book of beauty and insight: Burton's ability to meld a deep understanding of human nature with pitch-perfect historical detail is awe-inspiring. I turned the final page feeling moved, satisfied and sad to leave the characters (and Lucas the cat) behind. Burton is a master storyteller, with an uncanny knack for scene-setting and atmosphere. I felt I could see, smell, live and breathe every page. The House of Fortune is a delight for anyone who is about to read it.” —Elizabeth Day, author of HOW TO FAIL and THE PARTY
“I was absolutely swept away by this exquisite and propulsive novel. I found the world so meticulously crafted and the vibrant cast of characters so alluring that I entered a divine fictional dream, bewitched by Burton's deft narrative hand. A thrilling book of depth that examines the weight of family secrets and what it means to break free of the past and step into one's light. Magical and suspenseful, this epic tale felt written in the stars long ago. The kind of book that makes you feel lucky to hold it in your hands.” —Chelsea Bieker, author of GODSHOT and HEARTBROKE
“One of the year's most hyped novels, and it's easy to see why. Burton conjures every scent and crackle of Nella's world.” —Entertainment Weekly on THE MINIATURIST
“A seductive meditation on greed, power and the tortuous journey even the well-heeled must endure for self-possession.” —The New York Times Book Review on THE MINIATURIST
“The pleasure lies in giving in to well-wrought illusions, and the result is a beach read with meat on its bones - perfect for the Labor Day transition from play to work.” —Vulture on THE MINIATURIST
“Burton gives her narrative the propulsive drive of a thriller, but her distinctive prose conveys deeper, harder answers than a whodunit. This fine historical novel mirrors the fullness of life, in which growth and sorrow inevitably are mingled.” —Washington Post on THE MINIATURIST
Fans of Burton's best-selling novel The Miniaturist will find this a worthy and satisfying sequel. In 1705 Amsterdam, Thea Brandt is celebrating her 18th birthday. The joy of the occasion is muted by her family's refusal to speak of her mother (who died giving birth to Thea), their strained finances, and Thea's recent moodiness. Her father, Otto, is struggling to see Thea as an adult, and her Aunt Nella is determined to get her married into a comfortable life free of the woes Nella has faced as a widow with diminishing fortunes in status-obsessed Amsterdam. An invitation to a ball hosted by one of Amsterdam's wealthiest families introduces the Brandts to a well-off young man, to a strange pineapple grower, and possibly to the miniaturist who sent Nella oddly prescient gifts years ago, when the miniaturist herself was 18. Will these three people help the Brandts return to their prior life of fortune, or will their carefully crafted façade finally crumble? VERDICT A beautifully written and wholly engrossing tale. New readers will be delighted that they can enjoy this book without having read the first one, but they'll probably seek it out to spend a bit more time in Burton's magical Amsterdam.—Portia Kapraun
Hemmed in by long-kept silences and problematic histories, a complicated family in 18th-century Amsterdam struggles to find its future.
Burton’s sequel to her bestselling debut, The Miniaturist (2014), picks up a generation later, in 1705, in a world riddled with secrets. Nella Brandt, the challenged wife of the previous book, now returns as aunt to 18-year-old Thea, the illegitimate daughter of her sister-in-law Marin and Otto, the African manservant who worked for Nella’s late husband. As the story opens, Thea, conducting a forbidden love affair with a scene painter at the Schouwburg Theatre, still yearns to understand the circumstances of her secret conception and to know more about the mother who died giving birth to her. Moreover, what are the details of Otto’s background in Surinam and Nella’s choice never to return to her now-derelict family home, Assendelft? The Brandts are also keeping secret from society at large the fact that they have no savings left and that Otto has lost his job. And there’s one more family enigma that may have resurfaced, as perfect, small, doll-like crafted objects start appearing on their doorstep. Has the strangely prescient miniaturist who haunted Nella’s marriage returned? Despite this welter of intrigues, there’s a static feel to the novel’s first half, scarcely alleviated by the introduction of Jacob van Loos, a wealthy possible suitor for Thea who might be the solution to the family’s financial distress. While two dramatic turning points eventually jolt the narrative forward, the story’s plotting is limited and its mood dominated by introspection, reminiscence, and unhappiness. Among a cast of isolated characters, it falls to Nella to act as the lynchpin once again, enabling a resolution which arrives sweetly but without answers to many of the preceding questions.
The magic is missing in this intense yet less-well-consolidated return trip.