One of my most anticipated novels of 2023 has been The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone by Audrey Burges. This debut novel is so imaginative and magical, and it defies easy categorization. I didn’t know what to expect going into it, but it absolutely captivated me.
Special thanks to the publicists at Penguin Random House and to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book!
Ever since she was a little kid, Myra Malone has devoted her time to a miniature mansion. It’s not a dollhouse: Not only are there no dolls, but it’s also far more elaborate and detailed than any standard dollhouse. She runs a blog about this tiny mansion, which is how Alex find out about it. The Minuscule Mansion isn’t just a nice piece of (tiny) craftsmanship… it’s his house. He lives in that house, but full sized, on the other side of the country. How and why does this stranger have a mini version of his home?
Through tentative correspondence, Myra and Alex unravel a mystery of magic, a missing woman, childhood tragedy, and the unthinkable ways these two could be connected.
The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone is a rare book that captures your imagination from the very first page. In 2015 in the rural mountains of Arizona, Myra is a reclusive 34-year-old woman who dedicates her time to tending her miniature mansion. Her blog about it is her only real tether to the outer world, other than her close friend Gwen. Ever since the terrible accident that killed her step-grandmother and left lifelong scars on her body, Myra has closed herself off to nearly everything.
In Virginia, Alex is shocked to learn about this Minuscule Mansion… because it’s his house. And not just the layout of the rooms, but even the furniture and the bedspread and the artwork on the walls—it’s all what’s currently there. That’s creepy in and of itself. But even stranger is how his house and her mini house seem to be connected on a deeper, more magical level.
The story is told in alternating chapters that jump around in time. While the main events take place in 2015, we also get glimpses of Myra’s childhood in the 1980s, as well as a second story that follows Willa starting in the 1930s. Additionally, there are occasional chapters that serve slices of Myra’s blog, showing off her enchanting writing and storytelling.
One of the biggest themes in The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone is the family drama in both Myra and Alex’s families. His grandmother, Willa, found a great love with Ford, but was never accepted into his family. Even their son, Rutherford, was hostile towards her. After losing Ford (in more ways than one), Willa was isolated in her mansion before she disappeared. Rutherford and his own son, Alex, have a similarly tenuous relationship, and it seems that the mansion is at the center of it.
There is a lot of magic in this novel, too, and not all of it is fully explained. What is the story behind Willa? How are the two versions of the mansion connected? It’s a bewitching tale of women, legacy, reputation, and home, and mixed into all of that is a real magic. Is it a haunting? A curse? Or something more rooted in love and nurturing?
The book is contemplative yet exciting, and I couldn’t stop talking to people about it over the days I was reading it. I loved seeing the magic come alive on the page and watching Myra slowly come out of her shell.
In some ways, The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone is a mystery. Some could say it’s a love story. Still others could call it a fairy tale, one that’s been updated for modern times. However you label it, this is an imaginative and enthralling book that is tender, meditative, and beautifully written. I look forward to reading more from Audrey Burges. Her second book, entitled A House Like an Accordion, is already on my list for 2024.
Get the Book
You can buy The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone here – it’s available as a paperback, ebook, and audiobook.
|The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone by Audrey Burges|
|Genre||Fantasy; Women’s Fiction|
|Number of Pages||352|
|Format I Read||ebook (NetGalley)|
|Original Publication Date||January 24, 2023|
A woman learns to expand the boundaries of her small world and let love inside it in this sparkling and unforgettable novel by Audrey Burges.
From her attic in the Arizona mountains, thirty-four-year-old Myra Malone blogs about a dollhouse mansion that captivates thousands of readers worldwide. Myra’s stories have created legions of fans who breathlessly await every blog post, trade photographs of Mansion-modeled rooms, and swap theories about the enigmatic and reclusive author. Myra herself is tethered to the Mansion by mysteries she can’t understand—rooms that appear and disappear overnight, music that plays in its corridors.
Across the country, Alex Rakes, the scion of a custom furniture business, encounters two Mansion fans trying to recreate a room. The pair show him the Minuscule Mansion, and Alex is shocked to recognize a reflection of his own life mirrored back to him in minute scale. The room is his own bedroom, and the Mansion is his family’s home, handed down from the grandmother who disappeared mysteriously when Alex was a child. Searching for answers, Alex begins corresponding with Myra. Together, the two unwind the lonely paths of their twin worlds—big and small—and trace the stories that entwine them, setting the stage for a meeting rooted in loss, but defined by love.
About the Author
Audrey Burges writes novels, humor, short fiction, and essays in Richmond, Virginia. Her presence is tolerated by her two rambunctious children and very patient husband, all of whom have become practiced at making supportive faces when she shouts, “listen to this sentence!” She is a frequent contributor to numerous humor outlets, including McSweeney’s, and her stories and essays have appeared in Pithead Chapel, Cease, Cows, and lengthy diatribes in the Notes app on her phone. Audrey was born and raised in Arizona by her linguist parents, which is a lot like being raised by wolves, but with better grammar. She moved to Virginia as an adult but still carries mountains and canyons in her heart, and sometimes, when she closes her eyes, she can still smell ponderosa pines in the sun.
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