Friday, July 15, 2022

Jessie Burton's The House of Fortune continues The Miniaturist in early 18th-century Amsterdam

Burton’s The Miniaturist (2014) was an international bestseller with a subsequent TV miniseries, and this keenly awaited sequel should more than fulfill expectations. Exhibiting the same finely etched atmosphere of historic Amsterdam, it deepens characterizations by bringing the action forward while illuminating the childhood of the original protagonist, Nella.

In 1705, secrets flourish in the Brandt house on the Herengracht canal. Nella’s mixed-race niece, eighteen-year-old Thea, who knows little about her mother or events before her birth, conducts a furtive romance with an unsuitable man. With money tight, Nella hopes to find Thea a rich husband who will improve their fortunes.

Thea’s father, Otto, has his own ideas, and their competing plans clash dramatically. Meanwhile, the miniaturist from the first book, whose designs are unnervingly perceptive, has returned, with gifts for Thea.

With an artistic eye, Burton explores women’s lives, socioeconomic concerns, and the ways they intersect. This volume has few supernatural elements; rather, the story emphasizes the effect of the miniaturist’s creations. Both heroines grow and change in this smartly written tale about family relationships and recognizing truth.

The House of Fortune was published on July 7 in the UK by Bloomsbury. North American readers will have to wait a little longer; it's published here on August 30th, also by Bloomsbury. 

I wrote this review for Booklist's historical fiction issue, which came out on May 15th.  You might notice a pineapple on the US cover, at the top, and (without providing spoilers), this plays a role in the story.


  1. Anonymous5:58 PM

    Thank you for the review. Family relationships are so myriad. Always something different.

  2. True - the family relationships in this book are all interesting to follow. Including the one between Nella and Thea, who are related by marriage rather than blood.