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.
Short version: I loved it. Completely recommend as a read.
Long version: it’s a bit more complicated because I’m not sure I would typically put this on my “romance novel” shelves–and I think this might be how this book is labeled. Even from the blurb, I was curious how this was actually a romance-romance because it felt like a more literary or women’s fiction sort of story, and it is. But it is also a romance, in the same way SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE is a romance rom-com. Which is how I would describe this book: SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE meets PRACTICAL MAGIC. It ends happily, which I think is why it doesn’t end up strictly shelved in the literary book club area or women’s fiction because under those two classifications, happiness is definitely optional.
Anyway, if you’re wanting a pure romance where the hero and heroine meet right away and there is banter and sizzling tension and perhaps even a hot scene or two where they complicate the relationship with sex and then try to mess everything up–it’s not that kind of romance. But are the hero and heroine perfect for each other? Was I rooting for them to get together even though the heroine was doing everything she could to sabotage it (for good reason)? It’s definitely that kind of romance. I loved the interactions between Myra and Alex–mostly through email–and following the layered storylines that explain how Myra and Alex, who are located about 2000 miles away from each other and have never met, end up together. I think Ms. Burges does a magnificent job of drawing and showing her characters to all be very vivid, ready to pop into your living room and have some iced tea with you. She creates a world where magic is real and almost ordinary, and you can rather believe this mansion does exist and is held together by magic.
There is some bittersweetness here and there–real conflict that can’t be easily fixed or even fixed at all. Magical realism in its best definition of the phase–and the writing style is just lovely to read. I look forward to reading more books by Ms. Burges. If you are looking for a shakeup to your normal romance reading selection–something a bit slower paced, yet still romantic and full of relationship growth, written in a beautiful lyrical style that paints a movie in your head–give this one a try.