Amsterdam comes alive in a mixture of wealth, opulence, control, repression and sensuality in “The Miniaturist,” a three-part miniseries based on Jessie Burton’s bestselling novel, airing Thursday at 8 p.m., beginning Aug. 8 on Arizona PBS.
Gorgeously filmed on location in The Netherlands and the U.K., the drama stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Romola Garai and Alex Hassell and also features Paapa Essiedu, Hayley Squires and Emily Berrington.
Set in 1686, when the Dutch Republic was one of the world’s richest and religiously zealous nations, The Miniaturist captures the paradox of extreme wealth combined with puritanical abhorrence of the pleasure that riches make possible. Taylor-Joy plays a young bride who receives mysterious packages from a reclusive maker of miniatures — tiny objects that appear to predict the future.
Nella Oortman is new to the city, a poor but aristocratic new bride to a handsome and prosperous merchant. Amsterdam is full of secrets, which Nella proceeds to unlock thanks to clues from her unseen artisan. In a community where authorities regard sugar as sinful and gingerbread men as idolatrous, secrecy can be a life-or-death matter.
Published to wide acclaim in 2014, “The Miniaturist” is Jessie Burton’s debut novel, inspired by her visits to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, where an elaborate 17th-century dollhouse is on display. One can’t help but admire the artistry of this antique cabinet — and wonder at the hidden obsessions, incidents, and secrets that spawned its creation.