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The House of Fortune (The Miniaturist, 2) by…
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The House of Fortune (The Miniaturist, 2) (edition 2022)

by Jessie Burton (Author)

Series: Miniaturist (2)

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827285,739 (3.8)1
Amsterdam in the year 1705. Thea Brandt is turning eighteen, and is ready to welcome adulthood with open arms. At the theatre, Walter, the love of her life, awaits her, but at home in the house on the Herengracht, winter has set in - 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 wonders if the miniaturist has returned for her . . .… (more)
Member:nicole_a_davis
Title:The House of Fortune (The Miniaturist, 2)
Authors:Jessie Burton (Author)
Info:Bloomsbury Publishing (2022), 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:historical fiction, Amsterdam

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The House of Fortune by Jessie Burton

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A charming and captivating story with interesting characters. They are all haunted by their pasts and wrapped up in secrets they are afraid to share. Much of the plot, in terms of Thea's romances, seemed a bit predictable, but it didn't matter, it was still enjoyable to read, but then there was an unexpected twist at the end. ( )
  nicole_a_davis | Sep 23, 2022 |
Jessie Burton's House of Fortune is a follow-up to The Miniaturist, which made a splash when it was released in 2014. I began reading House of Fortune without going back to read the review I'd written of the Miniaturist, so I can attest that it works as a stand-alone title, but the stories are so rich and so connected that I'd recommend starting with The Miniaturist regardless.

The central characters of House of Fortune are the remains of a rather unusual family, teetering on the brink of financial ruin in 18th Century Amsterdam. Thea, whose mother died giving birth to her, is a young woman coming into her own, a theatre aficionado who is experiencing her first love. Otto, her father, is originally from Dahomey, making Thea mixed race, and putting the family on the fringes of the "best" social circles. Nella was once married to Thea's uncle, for whom Otto worked. (There's a back story there that comprises most of The Miniaturist.) Having been widowed young, Nella is painfully aware of the way marriage can—or can't—provide a woman with security and has little patience with Thea's romanticism. Cornelia is the family's single servant, a woman who shoulders most of the work of the household. She's an employee, but also a family member, able to speak freely to other members of the household.

House of Fortune focuses on the tensions within this family group. Class hierarchy and piety are everything in their Amsterdam, and each of them carries secrets—some truly secret, others known—and each struggles both in pursuit of their own goals and in their concerns for the security and happiness of the others.

This might sound like the set-up for a typical period romance, but House of Fortune is much more than that, given the uncertain positions and complex identities of the central characters and a thread of more-or-less-magical realism that also ran through The Miniaturist.

It took me a while to warm to Thea, whose story provides the backbone of this novel. She's young, she's sure she knows things her elders don't, she's naive, she's combative in ways one expects of an eighteen-year-old. But once the first few chapters laid out the context of the novel and the plotting expanded to embrace other characters I found myself much more engaged—and less impatient with Thea.

If you enjoy historical fiction—especially historical fiction that looks beyond the normal conventions of the time in which its set—you're certain to enjoy House of Fortune.

I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own. ( )
  Sarah-Hope | Sep 4, 2022 |
While I haven't read The Miniaturist yet (it's in my library) this is said to be a stand alone novel. It actually makes me want to read The Miniaturist now! It's set in the 1700s in Amsterdam and follows Thea, just turned 18 who believes she knows everything about love and life. She lives in a large beautiful mansion which is almost empty as her Aunt Nella and father, Otto have had to sell most of their possessions to keep up a good front so that they can arrange a successful marriage for Thea. We know how that's going to turn out! Very enjoyable! ( )
  Dianekeenoy | Aug 31, 2022 |
This book is marketed as a standalone companion to The Miniaturist, but readers who have not read the first book will miss a great deal of background needed to understand characters.

This book is set in 1705, eighteen years after the end of The Miniaturist. Thea Brandt, who lives with her father Otto and her Aunt Nella, turns eighteen. The family lives in a large house in a prestigious Amsterdam neighbourhood but they have major financial concerns. Nella decides that it is time for Thea to marry and sets out to arrange a high status, lucrative marriage, though finding a suitable husband for her illegitimate, mixed-race niece whose family has suffered public shame may be difficult. In the meantime, Thea is spending time at the theatre enjoying performances and spending time with Walter, a set painter and her secret lover. She also begins receiving miniature figurines which seem to be the work of the miniaturist, a shadowy figure from Nella’s past who seems to have the ability to see people’s secrets and to steer their future.

The inclusion of the miniaturist is one reason for this book not really being a standalone. Her presence is one reason why readers who have not read The Miniaturist will be confused. She is mentioned over and over again, though no additional information is given about her. A major mystery in the first book is how the miniaturist knows so much about Nella, especially when sometimes the objects she sends seem prophetic? All that has changed is that Thea is now the recipient of her figurines. Is a third book being planned?

Thea, who is the age Nella is in The Miniaturist, and Nella are foil characters. Thea is the romantic. She wants to find true love and yearns for adventure, escape from her cold, austere home which is full of secrets. She is willful and self-centred; she thinks she knows everything and her aunt knows nothing. The irony of her comment to her aunt that “’You were never like me’” can only be fully appreciated by those who have read The Miniaturist. Even after remembering her age, I found Thea very annoying at the beginning. Of course, she does gain maturity since experience is a harsh teacher. I did, however, think that her behaviour does not fit that of a young woman in the early 18th century. In her attitude to sex, she behaves like a woman from the 20th or 21st centuries.

Nella is the pragmatist. Her wants stability and security for herself and her family. Maintaining the veneer of gentility and respectability and being accepted by society are important to her. In The Miniaturist, Nella, a timid and naïve girl, develops independence, determination, and resourcefulness over the course of the three months of her marriage. She has lost those traits? Yet though she is very conventional, Nella has a surprisingly open-minded attitude to Thea’s sex life?

The plot is not complicated; in fact, it is predictable. Certainly, it is not difficult to guess where everyone will end up at the end. Some of the foreshadowing is certainly heavy-handed. When lovers meet surrounded by “fake crumbling castles looming over their heads” in a “room of make-believe,” it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what is going to happen!

There is one plot element that is problematic. When a marriage is arranged, a dowry is an inevitable part of the arrangement, but Nella never worries about how they will find the money for a dowry, even if the amount requested is paltry? The pragmatic woman stops thinking sensibly and realistically? Even Thea comments about the maid spending all of her dowry at the market preparing an elaborate feast for the groom-to-be!

The message of the book is that “Things can change” and new beginnings are possible. The ending for all the characters clearly indicates this hopeful message. Another message is that “The past always comes to meet the present,” a message that is also emphasized at the end. Again, those who have read The Miniaturist will see more clearly how the ending completes a circle begun when Nella was 18.

When I read The Miniaturist, I wasn’t particularly impressed and, unfortunately, The House of Fortune also falls short in my estimation.

Note: I received a digital galley from the publisher via NetGalley.

Please check out my reader's blog (https://schatjesshelves.blogspot.com/) and follow me on Twitter (@DCYakabuski). ( )
  Schatje | Aug 30, 2022 |
This is a sequel to The Miniaturist which I've previously read and loved it.
1705 in Amsterdam
Thea is eighteen years old and it's time for her to get married. With her family reputation it will be hard to find a suitable husband who will secure Thea's future. Aunt Nella’s mission of finding a wealthy husband for Thea, comes to an end when she meets Jacob van Loss at the ball. Thea, however, falls in love with Walter, a painter who works in the playhouse in which Thea finds refugee from daily family problems. Thea and Walter betrothed in secret and it seemed that Thea won her love until she starts to receive miniatures followed by the blackmail notes. Meanwhile, her father and aunt are struggling to manage their lives financially. Thea's father, Otto, lost his job and there is nothing they can do to live comfortably. Unless if Aunt Nella agrees to give her childhood property for a pineapple orchard that Otto is so desperate to start with Caspar Witsen. But Nella will never agree to that business in the place she wants to forget. Busy with family problems and husband arrangements, they don't notice presence of miniaturist in their lives once again after eighteen years of absence.
A wonderful book with interesting family story from Amsterdam in the year of 1705. I love stories where dreams do come through and when family never gives up on each other.
It is such an enchanting story full of secrets and drama that I had a hard time putting this book down. The writing is brilliant, the story is very engaging. Love this book and I hope there will be another one. ( )
1 vote Maret-G | Jul 22, 2022 |
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Amsterdam in the year 1705. Thea Brandt is turning eighteen, and is ready to welcome adulthood with open arms. At the theatre, Walter, the love of her life, awaits her, but at home in the house on the Herengracht, winter has set in - 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 wonders if the miniaturist has returned for her . . .

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