15 March 2023

Review: The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone by Audrey Burges

The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone by Audrey Burges book cover

* Copy courtesy of Pan Macmillan *

In January 2022 I attended the Doll House: Miniature Worlds of Wonder exhibition at Como House in Melbourne which featured over 40 dollhouses from the 1890s to the present day. The dollhouses in this exhibition were front and centre in my mind while reading this delightful debut novel by Audrey Burges.

The premise of The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone instantly captured my imagination. Myra Malone of the title is a reclusive blogger who writes from her attic in Arizona about the Mansion; a miniature dolls' house given to her by a loved one. Myra is an online sensation with thousands of subscribers and fans who enjoy her blog posts about the Mansion, the rooms and their decoration and subsequent redecoration. Fans send her items hoping they'll be featured in one of the rooms and Myra has cultivated a safe and fulfilling existence for herself.

The house is a huge hinged trunk with brass buckles and originally belonged to her step grandmother Trixie. The descriptions of the Mansion in the novel were so detailed I could easily visualise the structure.
"It's hinged, by the way." Lou pointed to brass buckles on the house's backside, shut tight. Myra already knew. "It opens up like a clam on its side, and there are little rooms on hinges inside, too - it kind of unfurls. Damnedest thing I've ever seen." Page 18
More than just a dollhouse, the Mansion has a touch of magic Myra has never understood but which she associates with the original owner Trixie. Sometimes Myra can hear music coming from the Mansion and rooms in the house can suddenly appear or disappear without warning.
"The Mansion is a miniature house - some might say a dollhouse, but please don't, it takes slights very personally - in an eclectic architectural style that embraces Victorian and Gothic influences, as well as a few other mishmashed elements thrown in just for the hell of it." Page 99
We're soon introduced to Alex who works in his father's furniture business and he's a likeable character. However Alex is shocked beyond belief when he inadvertently stumbles across Myra's blog because the Mansion looks exactly like his house! Why does Myra Malone have a miniature model of his house and a replica bedroom with his furniture inside?

The plot is driven by a mystery surrounding the original owner of the Mansion and I enjoyed the dual timelines and touch of 'other'. The novel cleverly incorporates Myra's blog posts to tell some of the story (as in the quote from page 99 above), although I did find the connection between the characters across time a little hazy at times, but thankfully it became clear.

Presented in a delightfully designed cover, and containing a very light romance with strong generational links, I fell in love with this uplifting, feel good tale.

Highly recommended!

P.S. If you're into miniatures, check out my review of Dolls' Houses from the V&A Museum of Childhood by Halina Pasierbska.

P.P.S In writing this review, I've just discovered that the exhibition I mentioned (Doll House: Miniature Worlds of Wonder) is now an online immersive experience. Organised by the National Trust, you can find out more here.

My Rating:

Would you like to comment?

  1. So I know what I am doing for the rest of today now! Thanks for the link to the immersive experience! Can't believe I missed the IRL experience!

    Thanks for sharing this review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

    1. You're very welcome Marg, I hope you enjoyed the immersive experience, it might even be better than the real thing!


Thanks for your comment, Carpe Librum!