When Ibby Bell’s father dies in a tragic accident in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother, Fannie, and throws in her father’s urn for good measure. Her black cook, Queenie and her feisty daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets. For Fannie’s own family history is fraught with tragedy, hidden behind the closed rooms in her ornate Garden District mansion. It will take Ibby’s arrival to begin to unlock the mysteries there. And it will take Queenie and Dollbaby’s hard-won wisdom to show Ibby that family can sometimes be found in the least expected places.
On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Nella’s life changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways.
Combing the best of both worlds: historical fiction and magical realism, The Miniaturist is an enchanting read. I found it fascinating that the story is based on the real doll house of Petronella Oortman, now housed in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. It definitely made me want to take a trip and see it for myself.
You can view the real doll house here https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/explore-the-collection/works-of-art/dolls-houses/objects#/BK-NM-1010,0.
It may seem a little dicey to blog about …ahem, adult situations on a public library website. Yet, after recently watching the French film Blue is the Warmest Color, I feel compelled to write something. Even though the film is easily one of the most graphic films I’ve ever seen, it is also one of the most memorable and affecting.
Blue is the Warmest Color won the big prize at Cannes, when it competed in 2013. I try to make it a habit to keep up with the winners – it is a tidy way to stay with the best in contemporary world cinema.
So then, sitting down to watch the film, I knew a little on what I was getting into: reports and reviews noted that it did push some boundaries on how much intimacy is shown. Yeah. These notices were indeed accurate. Continue reading