Eight years after the triumphant launch Miniaturistauthor Jessie Burton released its sequel, House of Fortune. Returning to Amsterdam, to the Brandt family and heroine Nella, she also introduces a dazzling new heroine, Thea.

In the promotional video, Burton explains that Nella’s niece, Theo, was the main inspiration for the sequel.

“I wanted who Nella would spar with […] She has so much of the spirit that Nella had when she was eighteen, but she is a different person and behaves differently.’

Jesse Burton

Narrated by Nella and Thea House of Fortune. Although the story is not as glamorous as the title suggests, it is full of mystery and high stakes, which makes it really exciting.

“House of Luck”: Contents

Thea Brandt was raised by Otto’s father, Aunt Nella, and Cornelia, the family servant. Their home is loving, but it’s also falling apart.

The Brandt family was once one of the wealthiest in Amsterdam, but everything fell apart when Thea was born. The family is engulfed in scandal, and now, eighteen years later, they are selling their heirloom to buy food.

Aunt Nella, the heroine miniaturist, is determined to find Thea a suitable husband who can protect her and her family from financial ruin. Surprised by this search, she rejects Otto’s reservations about how Theo, a poor child of mixed race, will be accepted by Amsterdam’s upper class.

For her part, Theo is immune to the impending financial disaster. She is having a secret affair with Walter, a set painter at the theater. Her love for him gives her the courage to break the rules of class relations and sexuality.

The release she feels with him is a balm for the Brandt household, where her relatives refuse to tell her anything about her dead mother or uncle and the scandals they caused.

When the family attends a ball, they encounter three people who promise riches but bring the family into conflict with each other.

Jacob is a wealthy suitor that Aunt Nella has been looking for, but will Thea agree to marry a man she doesn’t love? Casper is a nerdy entrepreneur looking for investment. Otto is eager to work with him on Nella’s land, but will Nella agree to return to the haunted estate of her childhood?

Then there is the miniaturist who, after 18 years, has returned to haunt the Brandt family. And this time she is looking not only for Nella, but also for Thea.

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Is “House of Success” for you?

Although set in Amsterdam in 1705, House of Fortune seems like a very modern story. This is probably due to the eternal themes of money and love and the conflict between them.

In addition, women in this historical setting can freely walk around the city unaccompanied, which was unusual in other cities of the time. The Brandt family’s relative poverty and history of scandal also mean they are not smothered by servants (Cornelia is more aunt than maid to Thea).

Thea is also a woman of color in a relatively privileged position, a rarity in both Western history and historical fiction that affirms contemporary women of color. So while the family itself is unusual in Amsterdam, their isolation gives Thea a freedom that the modern reader can relate to.

However, the historical setting is a part House of Success’appeal, especially to fans of historical fiction. From a South African perspective, it is interesting to observe how the Dutch East India Company (VOC) illegally acquired spoils that caused such oppression in our country were enjoyed in the Netherlands.

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“The Miniaturist” and “The House of Success”

The setting is much more muted than in Miniaturist so don’t look for opulence and glamor here. There is also much less business and politics. But if you’re anything like author Jesse Burton, you’ll probably want to read the sequel regardless.

“I’m not done with Nela or she’s done with me,” Burton said in the promotional video.

If you haven’t read MiniaturistI still recommend diving in House of Fortune.

The two books are interrelated, but not interdependent. I would even say so House of Fortune it has more mystery because so much time has passed since the scandals actually happened, and the reader experiences it through the eyes of Thea, who has been shielded from that past.

Fair warning, though, you’ll want to go back and read Miniaturist (as I did).

Note that there are racist incidents in the novel, although not many, as well as descriptions of violent death and grief.

More about the author Jesse Burton

Jesse Burton is also an author Miniaturist, Muse and Confession. She also wrote children’s books.

Her debut novel, Miniaturist, sold over a million copies in its first year and won the National Book Award for Book of the Year. She was impressed with the success Miniaturist and talks openly about the mental health crisis that followed and what she learned from it.

“Success is a mirage,” she told The Guardianand you have to do a lot of analysis to realize that it is impossible to embody.’

Burton grew up in London as an only child. She studied English and Spanish at Oxford before switching to drama. She tried to pursue an acting career before working as a PR temp and then becoming a full-time writer and essayist.

House of Fortune is published by Pan Macmillan and sells for R348 from Exclusive Books.

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