A Novel by Norah Labiner

“A splendid, leisurely meditation on the meaning of fame, identity, and love …”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

September 2003
6 x 9 | 400 Pages
Paperback Original

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ISBN: 978-1-56689-151-6.



Norah Labiner’s masterful follow-up to her groundbreaking Our Sometime Sister is an engrossing and innovative work conceived in classical style, popping with pop cultural panache, and exhibiting all the gifts and vision of its author, who was lauded by the Utne Reader as one of the “ten novelists who are changing the way we see the world.” Miniatures is an intensely evocative novel with haunting characters and beautiful, painterly prose that summon the ghosts of Mary Shelley, Marcel Proust, and the Brontë sisters.

Young, impetuous, and possessing a passionate, vulnerable intellect, American Fern Jacobi is traveling in Ireland when she finds work as a live-in housekeeper to famous and reclusive writers Owen and Brigid Lieb.

The eccentric and world-weary Owen has lived in the shadow of scandal and suspicion ever since his first wife, a beloved and iconic novelist, committed suicide in the grand, drafty house where Fern has come to work. Amidst the Liebs’s riddled and deceitful world, Fern forges an alliance with Brigid, Owen’s young and beautiful second wife. When the two share the discovery of a controversial bundle of hidden letters, Fern not only unearths answers to the first wife’s suicide, but also to her own past.


2003 American Library Association Notable Book

2003 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing Shortlist

2003 Minnesota Book Award for Fiction Winner

2003 ForeWord Magazine Silver Award for Literary Fiction


“A splendid, leisurely meditation on the meaning of fame, identity, and love …”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)