The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
This novel set in 17th-century Amsterdam focuses on the life of Petronella ‘Nella’ Oortman, an 18-year-old country girl who marries outside of her social class into wealthy family of merchant traders. But the true star of the book for our editor, Mel, is the doll’s house that Nella is given as a wedding present upon moving into. She commissions a miniaturist to create furnishings for the tiny abode but, before long, the mystical maker begins to send her eerily lifelike figurines of Nella’s new family too. Before long, it becomes apparent that the miniaturist is able to predict the future, and with every new miniature creation, as sense of foreboding enters the doll’s house – and Nella’s life. ‘It’s an utterly gripping piece of magical realism, set in a captivating place and time in history that I’d hitherto not known a great deal about,’ Mel explains. ‘The house itself is inspired by a real life exhibit in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam – ever since I read the book I’ve been eager to make a trip to see it.’
Flora’s Lot by Katie Fforde
Nominated by our Deputy Art Editor, Kirsty, this uplifting read tells the story of Flora, who moves to the country to join her family’s antiques business. However, she doesn’t receive the warm welcome that she expects. That is, of course, until she falls for devilishly handsome country boy, Henry. ‘It’s a lovely romantic, feel good book,’ says Kirsty. ‘And I like the fact that Flora in a newbie to the antiques world, but she soon embraces it. And who doesn’t love a good romance too?’
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
Nothing beats a good Gothic horror story, and this novel by Laura Purcell is an unmissable delight! When newly married, and widowed, Elsie is sent to her husband’s derelict country estate to recuperate during her pregnancy, she is faced with hostility and unease at every turn. Not least of all when she discovers a locked room in her new home, filled with an ancient diary and a mysterious painted wooden figure…
‘This brilliant novel grips you in its icy stranglehold and keeps you turning page after page at a terrific pace, says H&A’s Production Editor Rachel. ‘Key to the story are a set of strange and rather intriguing dummy boards, which dominate the storyline in an increasingly unsettling way. The claustrophobic atmosphere, coupled with the setting of an ancient neglected mansion, and some thoroughly creepy and unexplainable goings-on made this gothic ghost story a standout novel for me. If you’re a fan of Susan Hill, you’ll love it.’
Here, we unwravel the mystery of the intriguing Georgian figures that inspired Laura Purcell’s The Silent Companions.
Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
This evocative coming-of-age story set on the idyllic Italian Riviera surrounds 17-year-old Elio, and his summer romance with Oliver – a scholar completing his manuscript on Heraclitus at Elio’s palatial family home under the supervision of his academic father. The dreamy descriptions of the settings and scenery enchanted the H&A Editorial and Picture Assistant, Katy.
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
A twisting historic tale of ambition and strength that spans several generations (you’re going to need a big cup of tea to plough through this one…) The Pillars of the Earth is set against the dramatic canvas of 12th century Medieval England, and one man’s calling to build the world’s greatest Gothic cathedral. Expect tumultuous relationships, raw violence and remarkable power struggles to ensue… ‘I was totally gripped by the setting of this novel and devoured it in several sittings, ‘ says H&A Senior Staff Writer, Sophie. ‘Follett brings Medieval history alive with his colourful characters and vivid descriptions – you won’t be able to put it down!’