Originally published: 7 July 2022
Author: Jessie Burton
Published by: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 416 pages
Reading dates: 6-8 July 2022
In the golden city of Amsterdam, in 1705, Thea Brandt is turning eighteen, and she is ready to welcome adulthood with open arms. At the city’s theatre, Walter, the love of her life, awaits her, but at home in the house on the Herengracht, all is not well – her father Otto and Aunt Nella argue endlessly, and the Brandt family are selling their furniture in order to eat. On Thea’s birthday, also the day that her mother Marin died, the secrets from the past begin to overwhelm the present.
Nella is desperate to save the family and maintain appearances, to find Thea a husband who will guarantee her future, and when they receive an invitation to Amsterdam’s most exclusive ball, she is overjoyed – perhaps this will set their fortunes straight.
And indeed, the ball does set things spinning: new figures enter their life, promising new futures. But their fates are still unclear, and when Nella feels a strange prickling sensation on the back of her neck, she remembers the miniaturist who entered her life and toyed with her fortunes eighteen years ago. Perhaps, now, she has returned for her . . .
I loved The Miniaturist when I first read it. It was 2015 and my mum had just died and so to help fill the time I joined my first IRL book club (of which I am still a member). The Miniaturist was the 2nd book I read with the group so when I saw there was a sequel, I was so pleased. I’d love to have had time to reread The Miniaturist first before reading The House of Fortune but unfortunately not. Despite reading approximately 600 books since, I was able to pick up the story nicely. I would advise you read The Miniaturist first though – I think the reading experience is better if you know the back story.
Picking up 18 years after the events in The Miniaturist, in 1705, The House of Fortune re-joins Nella and Cornelia, Otto and his daughter Thea who is celebrating her 18th birthday as the book begins. Things are tough – the family still own their impressive home on the Henengracht in Amsterdam but money is tight and when Otto looses his job, things are desperate. Nella is keen to get Thea shown in the right circles to find her a husband but both Otto and Thea are resistant to this idea.
Thea’s great love is the theatre – she loves to visit to watch the plays by Shakespeare and hang around backstage having made friends with one of the actresses, and is also in love with Walter, a man a few years her senior who is the set painter at the theatre. Convinced they will get married, Thea is shocked when he doesn’t treat as well as he’d promised he would.
Filled with fantastic descriptions of Amsterdam at the turn of the 18th century, I had sympathy for Nella who by trying to marry off mixed race Thea is doing her best to keep the family and it’s reputation afloat. But I also had sympathy for Thea who wants to marry for love! The magical figure of the miniaturist returns in The House of Fortune, having an uncanny ability to tell fortunes with the delicate and intricate packages she leaves on the family doorstep!
A wonderful sequel to the original, I loved being again with Nella but also hearing from Thea as they clash with each other over what each thinks is best for them. A wonderful piece of historical fiction which kept me captivated and enthralled.
Many thanks to Book Break and Picador for my proof copy.
About the author:
Jessie Burton is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling novels The Miniaturist, The Muse, and The Confession, and of the children’s book The Restless Girls. Her novels have been translated into 38 languages, and she is a regular essay writer for newspapers and magazines.
The Miniaturist was a Sunday Times number 1 bestseller in both hardback and paperback, and a New York Times bestseller. It sold over a million copies in its first year of publication, and was awarded the Waterstones Book of the Year, and Book of the Year at the National Book Awards. In 2017 it was adapted into a major TV series for BBC One.
The Muse was a Sunday Times number 1 bestseller in both hardback and paperback, and has sold more than 500,000 copies.
The Confession is Jessie’s third novel, and became an immediate Sunday Times bestseller.