Oh Elle Magazine. Once upon a time you were just a magazine, now you are quickly becoming the magazine thanks to the incredibly events you run. Last night’s book club was sponsored by Baileys (there was chocolate Baileys on offer, chocolate) and the incredible Jessie Burton was the guest of honour. Her book The Miniaturist is incredibly popular, selling like hot cakes. I love the book and getting the chance to meet her was an opportunity I couldn’t miss.
Before I talk about the event itself I need to talk about the venue. There are two Hoxton’s in London – one in Shoreditch and one in Holborn. I decided not to read the address and tootled to Holborn’s Hoxton with about 15 minutes to spare only to find out that this was the wrong Hoxton. I had to go to the Hoxton in actual Hoxton. I had a river to cross and not much time to do it. So I and my friend, who met me in Holborn’s Hoxton (neither of us are great at reading) legged it to Shoreditch. We arrived about ten minutes after the event started but because Elle believe in socialising we hadn’t missed anything.
The Courtyard is this beautiful indoor space made to look like an enchanted garden – at least to me it did. It reminded me a little of The Witchery in Edinburgh but with brighter lighting and more ventilation. Once we were seated with drinks in hand and canapés on the table the two of us caught up and chatted until the event started.
The Miniaturist takes place in 1686 Amsterdam when 18 year old Nella arrives at the home of her much older husband. She is a new bride and instead of the welcome she expected she is greeted by her new sister-in-law Marin – cold and terrifying, a husband who has no desire to have sex with her, and a former slave, Otto. Her husband buys her a miniature replica of their house and as she orders miniature figures for the doll house she starts to get things she didn’t order, things which reveal a lot about their human counterparts.
Hearing Jessie Burton talk about her book was wonderful. She was in a museum in Amsterdam when she saw the actual miniature house (fully furnished) on display. It used to belong to a woman called Nella and she had spent so much money on this miniature house that it cost the same as an actual house. From this came The Miniaturist and what was very cool to learn, a potential sequel some point in the future which will pick up 16 years after The Miniaturist finishes.
Jessie Burton talked about what she is writing next – Spanish, paintings, and a gallery owner and painter who are not what they seem – how the ending was going to be a lot more open than it already is (though I was a fan of the ending), and how the miniaturist herself was initially going to be a man romantically linked with Marin.
It was a great evening – I’m already looking forward to the next one!