Life in Miniature by Nicola Lisle

I don’t think I can recommend enough Life in Miniature by Nicola Lisle* – A History of Dolls’ Houses. I loved it! It was such a fascinating book. I had no idea, before reading the book, how widespread the doll houses were before the Victorian era. Lisle talks about doll houses in Britain and also abroad, which is so interesting.

Life in Miniature by Nicola Lisle

There is a chapter on miniature villages. That made me remember my visit to Madurodam, the first miniature village I went to. This is not only a history book, but a tourist guide too. As soon as we can visit again, I will make sure I have this book with me. She mentioned doll houses I saw before, as I visited the National Trust Museum of Childhood and Museum of London. Now I want to see more of them.

Lisle talks about restoration of the old doll houses and about their importance as historical artefacts for social history. Doll houses changed with times and they show how the architecture and fashion were when they were made. Some of them were modernized and it is interesting too. The level of craftsmanship involved is staggering and I was surprised to read about aristocrats who took a hands-on approach to making furnishings for the house. Sometimes the houses were made by the estate’s carpenter and this is relevant too, showing that the carpenter’s skills were highly respected, as doll houses were not seen as toys, but as a way to show off their sophistication.

The book is packed with examples of dolls’ houses, nicely described, and their stories being told too. At the end of the book there is a rather long list of places to visit, which, as I said, makes this book a gem. After reading it I just want to go to Windsor and see Queen Mary’s amazing 1920s dolls’ house. It has running water, electric lighting, and working lifts.

Life in Miniature by Nicola Lisle

Details about the picture: I included a small anvil as a prop, from Gretna Green, representing the marriage anvil where runaway lovers would get married as soon as they reached Scotland.
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: YES!
Published by: Pen & Sword History
Year it was published: 2020
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): Broad historical subject
Pages: 208

About the author: Nicola Lisle is a freelance journalist and author specialising in history and the arts. She has written numerous articles for family history magazines, including Who Do You Think You Are?, Your Family History and Discover Your Ancestors, and was a regular contributor to Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine for many years. She is the author of Tracing Your Family History Made Easy and Tracing Your Oxfordshire Ancestors.
Website & Social Media Links: Pen and Sword

*I was sent a copy of Life in Miniature by Nicola Lisle for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

1 thought on “Life in Miniature by Nicola Lisle”

  • I was actually just looking for new books on dollhouses that I haven’t bought or seen before when I came across this blog post. this book really seems like it is worth a try, thanks for the review!

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