Very excitingly, The House of Fortune is the sequel to Jessie Burton’s smash hit novel, The Miniaturist. It is set 18 years after events in the first book and we do, of course, see what Petronella (Nella) Brandt is up to now. She shares the spotlight with a new character, her niece, Thea – a thrilling addition to the cast. She is, you see, Marin’s daughter…
Opening sentence: At eighteen, Thea is too old to be celebrating birthdays.
Take a trip to 1705
Some sequels give you enough about the previous books to read them independently, but I would say you do need to have read The Miniaturist to get the most out of The House of Fortune. It alludes to and picks up from previous events, without going into excessive detail on all that happened.
So, when we meet Nella and her family here, who, along with Thea, are Otto (Thea’s father) and Cornelia (their loyal cook), it’s Thea’s 18th birthday and times are hard.
Underpinning the life of our characters is their descension into poverty. They still live in a grand house in a prime Amsterdam location, but their income stream is diminishing and they are struggling to live.
What’s love got to do with it?
While navigating the complex class system of 18th century Amsterdam, Nella is convinced that Thea marrying well is the only way out of their troubles but, as you may imagine, trying to get an 18 year old to marry for practical reasons and not for love isn’t going to go down well…
Thea is a great character. Strong and feisty, she’s finding out who she is now, while trying to discover more about her past:
On her birthday, she wants to look into the glass and see her mother, to know who she was and why her father will never speak of her.
The miniaturist makes an appearance and her psychic abilities are spot on, once again. I do like this prophetic element to the story. She can steer the family in the right direction, if only they listen to her…
The miniaturist, always on the edge of her life, and living in its heart.
I have a soft spot for historical fiction and loved my trip back to the 18th century to meet Nella again. She had a pretty hard time in The Miniaturist and, to be honest, things don’t get miles better for her here. But that’s not to imply this was a depressing read. The House of Fortune is infused with hope and moments of joy and the realism that flows through made it great to read. A highly enjoyable sequel.
- Thank you to Picador for the ARC;
- Get your copy of The House of Fortune here;
- Published by Picador 7th July 2022;
- 416 pages;
- My rating: