Calling Hollywood

The Miniaturist Jessie Burton

As much as I love movies, I’m usually horrified at the thought of Hollywood touching one of my book gems.  But this book needs Hollywood – in fact its crying out to be rescued so please Sam Mendes get on with it!

Jessie Burton’s story is an ambitious one for any author especially for a debut.  The descriptions of Amsterdam, the city and the society are wonderful – they sparkle.  The attention to detail around the clothes, fabrics, home decorations and especially the food is rich and in places moving.  As a piece of social commentary on an historical era its quite simply remarkable.

What’s also remarkable and perhaps unique is Burton’s concept of taking a wedding gift given to a young lady by her husband in the late 1600’s.  It should have been magical.  All the ingredients are there, but…

The rich storyline just never really develops, and the characterisation is weak, you just never really care about any of them.  Burton’s story touches on the element of magic, its possibility and role in a religious society.  This will be fascinating on film but in the book it never goes anywhere.  And then there’s Johannes’s story – Hollywood will do this tragedy justice (and rarely do I think that!) in a way Burton doesn’t manage.  Johannes’s tragedy is that he is a modern even entrepreneurial man facing a perennial issue in a world that simply doesn’t understand it.  Benedict Cumberbatch anyone?!

The story took ages to grow and then crashed into the last three chapters to what I can only say was an ending that resolved nothing.  Who on earth is this Miniaturist?

I now know more about Dutch history, the role of religion in the late 1600’s and the hypocrisy and  greed that drove the society.  But I know no more about Burton’s characters than when I started the Miniaturist.

Please Hollywood tell this story it needs it!