The Muse
A picture hides a thousand words . . .On a hot July day in 1967, Odelle Bastien climbs the stone steps of the Skelton gallery in London, knowing that her life is about to change forever. Having struggled to find her place in the city since she arrived from Trinidad five years ago, she has been offered a job as a typist under the tutelage of the glamorous and enigmatic Marjorie Quick. But though Quick takes Odelle into her confidence, and unlocks a potential she didn't know she had, she remains a mystery - no more so than when a lost masterpiece with a secret history is delivered to the gallery.The truth about the painting lies in 1936 and a large house in rural Spain, where Olive Schloss, the daughter of a renowned art dealer, is harbouring ambitions of her own. Into this fragile paradise come artist and revolutionary Isaac Robles and his half-sister Teresa, who immediately insinuate themselves into the Schloss family, with explosive and devastating consequences . . .

The Muse Details

TitleThe Muse
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 26th, 2016
PublisherEcco
ISBN-139780062409928
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Mystery

The Muse Review

  • karen
    January 1, 1970
    proper review now written, following my long anecdotal tale.when i was packing up my go-bag to prepare for my recent adventure in back surgery, when there was still a 50/50 chance i would have to stay at least one night in the hospital following the procedure, and remembering the mistakes i made years ago during back surgery #1 when the "you will be staying here for three nights" announcement came as a complete surprise and i told sean of the house to "just grab me a stack from near the bed" and proper review now written, following my long anecdotal tale.when i was packing up my go-bag to prepare for my recent adventure in back surgery, when there was still a 50/50 chance i would have to stay at least one night in the hospital following the procedure, and remembering the mistakes i made years ago during back surgery #1 when the "you will be staying here for three nights" announcement came as a complete surprise and i told sean of the house to "just grab me a stack from near the bed" and ended up with books i'd already read, books from the middle of series i hadn't yet started, and books too ponderous for someone on morphine to handle, i was determined to only bring foolproof, five-star, fall-into-'em books that would make the tedium of bed rest bearable.this was not my first choice.as much as i enjoyed The Miniaturist, the synopsis of this one didn't grab me right away: caribbean émigré in 1960s london, bohemian woman in 1930s spain, powerful mystery, art world, revolutionary fervor, civil war - it seemed too disparate to be likely to hold my attention through the distractions of pain spasms and medical invasions and immodest hospital gowns and the steady iv drips of painkillers. but i tossed it into the bag with the rest of 'em anyway because why not? and when my surgery was delayed for FIVE HOURS and i was imprisoned in that chair, in an admittedly not-terribly immodest hospital gown, it was the first book i blindly pulled out of the bag. and you know what? my interest was held. because once i started reading, i remembered what made The Miniaturist so good. it wasn't that i had any prior interest at all in amsterdam's golden age or sugar plantations or the craft of miniatures as an art movement - it's because jessie burton can write. it doesn't even really matter what she's writing about, it just flows in this effortlessly captivating way that sucks you in even when you might be starving to death and dehydrated from surgery-fasting and wishing, for the first time ever, that someone would just come along and cut you open already. for example, this - from the perspective of odelle bastien, aforementioned caribbean émigré: The name 'Edmund Reede' for me conjured up a quintessential, intimidating Englishness, Savile Rowers in Whitehall clubs; eat the steak, hunt the fox. Three piece suit, pomaded hair, great-uncle Henry's golden watch. I would see him round the corridor, and he would look surprised every time. It was as if I had walked in off the street, naked. We studied men like him at school - protected gentlemen, rich gentlemen, white gentlemen, who picked up pens and wrote the world for the rest of us to read.this is just everything - the rhythm of the sentences, the vividness of the description, her depiction of workplace integration as startled british politeness without rancor that still manages to reference the bitter aftertaste of colonialism's legacy. it kills me.full review to come, but i wanted to get that out there now for people like me (although with better spines, hopefully) who may not feel drawn to this book by the synopsis alone. now you have the synopsis, an anecdote, and a quote. oh, and this, if it helps: ******************************************okay, i suppose i should write a more in-depth review of the actual book and not just rely on super-sexxy hospital gown photos to do all the work for me…it's a solid sophomore novel from burton, and i can't help but interpret this one quote as a sly little wink from her about the anxiety of writing a second novel after a very successful debut: “I’ve seen what success does to people, Isaac, how it separates them from their creative impulse, how it paralyses them. They can’t make anything that isn’t a horrible replica of what came before, because everyone has opinions on who they are and how they should be.”but not to worry - although it's another historical novel in which art and gender feature prominently, this is no 'horrible replica' - it has merits all its own. it's a bit more ambitious in scope than The Miniaturist - there are two separate historical narratives woven together, detailing the experiences of two women: odelle bastien in the 1960s and olive schloss in the 1930s. odelle is a talented writer who leaves trinidad and goes to london, where she ends up working at an art institute for an enigmatic woman named quick and begins a relationship with a man named lawrie scott. olive is living in spain with her parents - her father a successful viennese art dealer and her mother a languid, emotionally fragile english heiress. olive is a very talented painter, a fact she has kept from her father who believes that women do not have what it takes to become true artists. the two stories are linked by a painting originating in olive's storyline that is brought to the institute that employs odelle, but there are other touchpoints - both are strong, somewhat aloof, characters enduring the expectations others impose on them because of their race or gender, and the limited opportunities they have to fully blossom, both are encouraged or enabled by people who are a little odd themselves, and there are additional thematic echoes involving patronage, identity, the creative process, artistic works produced in secretof the two stories, i liked odelle's much more. she's a more appealing character, and she does indeed have a way with words, even the ones she doesn't speak aloud to those who would condescend to her.'I remember…a feller saying to me in the shoe shop, 'your English is very good.' My English! I told him, "English is a West Indian language, sir."' ..."Your English is not as good as mine," I should have said."It does not have the length and the breadth, the meat and the smoke. Come at me with my Creole, with its Congo and its Spanish and its Hindi, French and Ibo, English and Bhojpuri, Yoruba and Manding."'yeah, odelle gets all the best lines.but olive's no slouch - a "fizzing girl," with "a plaintive, open face" who paints arresting canvases, and allows another to take the credit. i didn't always understand the decisions she made, but at least she gets to make declarations like, It was always easier to admire someone with a talent, and pity was the path to indifference, and the scene in which that line occurs is probably my favorite in the whole book. it's a perfectly rendered revelation/disappointment moment for olive where she realizes that confidence is not an indication of talent, and men, accustomed to praise and success, were maybe strutting a confidence they hadn't actually earned. earlier in the book, she gets another great long rant, which i'm totally gonna quote because it's golden:Her father always said that of course, women could pick up a paintbrush and paint, but the fact was, they didn't make good artists. Olive had never quite worked out what the difference was…But right now in Paris, Amrita Sher-Gil, Meret Oppenheim and Gabriele Münter were all working - Olive had even seen their pieces with her own eyes. Were they not artists? Was the difference between being a workaday painter and being an artist simply other people believing in you, or spending twice as much money on your work?As far as Olive saw it, this connection of masculinity with creativity had been conjured from the air and been enforced, legitimised and monetised by enough people for whom such a state of affairs was convenient - men like her father. Thus, for centuries it had become the status quo. The artist as naturally male was such a widely held presupposition, that Olive, to her shame, had come at times to believe in it herself. As a nineteen-year-old girl, she was on the underside; the dogged, plucky mascot of amateurship. I'm not 'good' enough; I don't have the grit, the vision, the flair, the spine, the spark. odelle has a similar observation, listening to the BBC'c Caribbean Voices on the radio as a little girlHere's the mad thing: poets from Barbados, Trini, Jamaica, Grenada, Antigua - any part of the British Caribbean - would send their stories all the way to London's Oxford Street, in order to hear them read back again in their homes, thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean. There seemed no local facility to enable these stories to be processed, a fact which impressed upon me at a very young age that in order to be a writer, I would require the motherland's seal of approval, the imperial sanction that my words were broadcastable. The majority of the work was by men, but I would listen enraptured by the words and voices of Una Marson, Gladys Lindo, Constance Hollar - and Cynth would pipe up, 'one day you be read out, Delly' - and her little shining face, her bunches, she always made me feel like it was true. Seven years old, and she was the only one who ever told me to keep going. By 1960 that programme had stopped, and I came to England two years later with no idea what to do with my stories.it's an excellent book, clearly very well-researched, and if the appeal of the storylines is a little unbalanced, that's probably just my personal preferences talking. it's a little more handled and predictable than The Miniaturist, but her writing is gorgeous enough that it didn't stop me from loving the guts out of it.come to my blog!
    more
  • Will Byrnes
    January 1, 1970
    As an image it was simple and at the same time not easily decipherable—a girl, holding another girl’s severed head in her hands on one side of the painting, and on the other, a lion, sitting on his haunches, not yet springing for the kill. It had the air of a fable. I am sure most of you have had the experience of seeing a painting and wondering what was the inspiration for its creation. Or pondered what might lay behind the mystery, of, say an enigmatic painted smile. The Muse take us back thr As an image it was simple and at the same time not easily decipherable—a girl, holding another girl’s severed head in her hands on one side of the painting, and on the other, a lion, sitting on his haunches, not yet springing for the kill. It had the air of a fable. I am sure most of you have had the experience of seeing a painting and wondering what was the inspiration for its creation. Or pondered what might lay behind the mystery, of, say an enigmatic painted smile. The Muse take us back through time to see what fueled the creation of several works of art, including the one described above. When Trinidadian Odelle Bastien, 26, well-educated, optimistic, a poet, meets a man at her best friend’s post-wedding party, he wants her to look at a painting his mother had left him in her will. A few days later, he shows up at The Skelton Institute, where Odelle is a typist, looking to have it evaluated. The folks in charge, including Marjorie Quick, an eccentric sort who has taken Odelle under her wing, are very interested indeed. It may be a long lost masterpiece by Spanish painter Isaac Robles, who was killed under mysterious circumstances in the 1930s. And the game is on. The story alternates between Odelle’s experiences as an immigrant in London, trying to make her way in a world where her skin color presents challenges, and Spain in 1936, on the brink of Civil War. The latter is where most of the action takes place.Jessie Burton in the Palace of Quintanar in Spain - from El Norte de CastillaOlive Schloss, 19, recently granted admission to a London art school, is in Spain with her parents. They are renting a finca in Arazuelo, a poor village near the city of Malaga, on the southern coast. Harold Schloss is an Austrian Jewish art dealer ever on the lookout for new talent. Sarah Schloss comes from English money. She relies overmuch on self-medication, and pines for lost youth and a less wandering husband. Isaac Robles and his half-sister, Teresa, in the employ of the property’s owner, arrive to take on whatever tasks need doing. Isaac is a painter and an activist, working against the fascists who seek to overthrow the elected government. Olive and Teresa become close, but is that closeness real, or is Teresa reaching across the socioeconomic divide in order to take advantage? Olive is very attracted to Isaac. The young English woman feels inspired by Spain and paints in secret, sharing her work only with Teresa and Isaac. Harold has expressed the view that females are incapable of great art, so she is reluctant to subject her work to his blindered scrutiny. Sarah commissions Isaac to paint a portrait of her and Olive. She may have ulterior motives. 1936 was a time in Spain when challenges to the elected government were becoming more brazen. The conflict between the opposing camps in many communities was shifting from loud disagreement to something more kinetic. The pressures in the political world ramp up in concert with the emotional upheavals in the Schloss household, not just as literary window-dressing, but as a crucial element in the story.As for the title of the book, who or what is the muse? It seemed to me that the term is used generically here. Yes, there are specific characters from whom the creatives draw inspiration, but some characters with no apparent artistic gift are moved by other people in the story as well. Also, among the nine muses of classical mythology, there is not a muse for painting, which suggests a broader view of the image. You have this light, and when it switches on I don’t think you even realize what it does. There are several pieces of romantic interest here, but not at all too much, and they are important to the story. Burton engages in a fair bit of parallelism. Odelle is an immigrant to London. Olive is a foreigner in Spain. Both are creatives, Odelle with writing, Olive with painting. Both Olive and Odelle hide their work from most people. Both find inspiration in a love interest, and feel unable to create in the absence of that other. Both have their work exposed to the world without their consent. Both Odelle and Olive imagine paradise in a place that is anything but. Olive sees Spain as Eden-ic and uses that in one very lush painting. But she does not see the turmoil that underlies the country until it is almost upon her. Odelle sees London as a sort of literary nirvana, but has had to endure years of racism and limited opportunity. She does, however, experience a Shangri-La moment in the lush growth of a London garden. Other items to keep an eye out for are characters projecting their expectations, good and bad, onto others. There are several parent/child, mentor/acolyte connections at play. Seeing people or things in terms of fairy tales, religious and secular, pops up a few times as well.As with Jessie Burton’s dazzling platinum debut, The Miniaturist, the heart of the story centers on a work of art, and a young woman’s (well two women’s) relationship to it. In her first book, that was a particularly lush doll house and the pieces that went in it. Here it is a long-lost painting. As with The Miniaturist, her leading ladies are both coming to grips with finding their best selves while trying to find their way in a strange land. As with her first novel, we are drawn in to the challenges faced by each of her main characters. I found Odelle to be the more sympathetic of the two, a hard working, stick-to-it sort, slogging through obstacles. Olive has the appeal of energy and vivacious creativity, but she behaves in some ways like a child, (19, duh-uh) so we might be a bit less inclined to relate, unless, of course, one is of that demographic. On the other hand, she is facing true existential crises, whereas Odelle is not in any physical danger. Another element of the book, one that sustains interest, as it did with The Miniaturist, is an element of mystery. What happened to Robles? How did the painting find its way into the current owner’s hands? What’s the deal with Marjorie Quick? Is she who Odelle thinks she is?Kate Atkinson said, "I think all novels are not only fiction but they are about fiction too." The notion certainly applies here. The artistic spirit, the ability to see, to feel, and to translate those gifts into art is core to The Muse. How are artists of word or image inspired? Does a creative person need an external inspiration to bring out what lives within? This is not to suggest that this novel is much concerned with navel-gazing. It is not. But consideration of the artistic impulse does flow through the pages. There is much to recommend. The Muse. Not only is the tale of love, danger, betrayal and revolution in 1936 Spain riveting for the impact on the characters, it offers us a time-and-place look at a nation on the verge of darkness, a harbinger of horrors to come. Human drama meets historical madness. Burton’s portrait of 1967 London was certainly interesting, particularly for the challenges faced by non-whites, and for how people born in less central parts of the British Empire relate to the Queen-motherland. But Spain is where the real action is here. No sophomore jinx in her second effort, and no understudy role either. With The Muse Jessie Burton shows quite decisively that she has arrived as a literary force, a star, and almost certainly, an inspiration for others. Publication Date – July 26,2016Review posted – March 11, 2016=============================EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author’s personal, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram pagesSome info on muses, just for the heck of it-----Wikipedia-----The Role of Women in the Art of Ancient GreeceJust in case you missed it in the review itself here is a link to my review of Burton’s first novel, The Miniaturist
    more
  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    So many novelists over these last few years, it seems are telling stories from dual time frames and if done right there can be a meaningful connection between them . I thought the story had so much promise at first. It touched on some topics that would make for interesting discussion - the view of women artists in the 1930's , who and why does the artist, painter or writer, create for - themselves, for outside praise and recognition? We glimpse civil war in Spain and it also touches on racial is So many novelists over these last few years, it seems are telling stories from dual time frames and if done right there can be a meaningful connection between them . I thought the story had so much promise at first. It touched on some topics that would make for interesting discussion - the view of women artists in the 1930's , who and why does the artist, painter or writer, create for - themselves, for outside praise and recognition? We glimpse civil war in Spain and it also touches on racial issues in the 1960's in England. So there is much in the way of food for thought. On top of that there is a mystery over a painting, love interests, and the hold on the reader waiting to see how Olive's life in a town in Spain in 1936 would connect with Odelle's in London in 1967 . As it turned out it just took way too long to flesh out details and as the story progresses and connections are made between the two characters and times, it felt a bit like a soap opera. 3 stars which for me means that I liked it but didn't find it to be one that will be memorable. Thanks to Ecco/HarperCollins and Edelweiss.
    more
  • Amalia Gavea
    January 1, 1970
    ‘’...and that’s all that matters, isn’t it? What people believe. It doesn’t matter what’s the truth; what people believe becomes the truth.’’ I finally found the time to read Jessie Burton’s sophomore novel and I am very glad to conclude a wonderful reading month with a beautiful work of Fiction. The Miniaturist is among my 10 all-time favourite novels and while The Muse wasn’t as magical and haunting, it was no less exciting and complex.The novel opens with Odelle, a young woman from Trinidad, ‘’...and that’s all that matters, isn’t it? What people believe. It doesn’t matter what’s the truth; what people believe becomes the truth.’’ I finally found the time to read Jessie Burton’s sophomore novel and I am very glad to conclude a wonderful reading month with a beautiful work of Fiction. The Miniaturist is among my 10 all-time favourite novels and while The Muse wasn’t as magical and haunting, it was no less exciting and complex.The novel opens with Odelle, a young woman from Trinidad, who tries to find a better life and a chance to follow her love for poetry in London during the swinging ‘60s. The narration is often transferred to Spain, in the area of Arazuelo during the late ‘30s, and the birthplace of an enigmatic painting that finds itself in the gallery where Odelle works. Through Olive’s eyes we witness the political and social upheaval in the Iberian Peninsula and a woman’s fight to find a voice and a place of her own in the world of Art.So, the dual timeline trope is present in The Muse and is masterfully executed. The sense of time and place is tangible and precise. The depiction of London and the beautifully frenetic era of the ‘60s is so vivid you can actually ‘’see’’ the colours of the clothes and the pop-art and listen to the songs that marked one of the most fascinating eras in History. Through Odelle’s memories of Trinidad, the writing acquires a fresh, sultry and sad Caribbean aura that is quite unique and perfectly balanced with the London atmosphere. What is interesting is the way Burton manages to create a darker feeling each time the narration moves under the shadow of the Andalusian sun. Despite the sunny hills, the aroma of the fruit and the luxurious background of Olive’s terribly dysfunctional family, the threat of the civil war is present everywhere. Hypocrisy is mixed with suspicion and the chances for a woman to be acknowledged for her skills and intelligence and not for her father’s walet are slim. Even people who claim to be fighting for equality (...and act in a completely opposite manner…) look upon women as feeble creatures who only act on a whim, devoid of feelings and thoughts. ‘’Women can’t do it, you see. They haven’t got the vision, although last time I checked they had eyes and hands, and hearts and souls. I’d have lost before I’d even had a chance.’’ The lives of Odelle and Olive are interlocked and it is clear that not many things have changed through the years. Olive isn’t allowed to pursue her dream and Odelle is considered an Other, an exotic bird that only half-belongs (if at all…) in her new surroundings. Lies and obsession are two major themes in the novel because truth is dangerous. It can destroy a life’s work along with Love. The men of the story aren’t exactly exemplary creations of their sex, they’re unable to love, hiding behind the curtain of a utopian society (utopian for them and an anarchy for everyone else...) and the utter motive of personal gain. If women are naive enough, they fall into the trap and the consequences are terrible. This brings me to my only complaint regarding The Muse. Although I try not to compare books written by the same author, it is my impression that The Muse lacked the unique characters of The Miniaturist. Odelle and Olive are quite interesting and their voice is clearly heard but they’re not heroines we haven’t seen before. I found I anticipated Odelle’s chapters more than Olive’s because the latter’s love affair with Isaac was irritating and too melodramatic for my liking. Isaac is an utterly loathsome creature, in my opinion. A brute with brutal ideas, a coward who tries to act like a revolutionary but is neck-deep in lies, deceit and views that serve savagery and anarchy. His sister is a much better character, quite enigmatic but not enough to attract my interest in the Arazuelo storyline. So, while London’s narrative was quite exciting, the action set in Spain was far less satisfying for me.Although The Muse isn’t as atmospheric, mystical and haunting as The Miniaturist, it is an excellent work of Historical Fiction. With a number of twists and rich in beautiful imagery and evocative prose, it is one more reason -for me, at least- to anticipate that Jessie Burton will go on giving us wonderful novels for many years to come.My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...
    more
  • Andrew Smith
    January 1, 1970
    I pressed on beyond half-way but then gave up. First DNF in a while. In truth, I thought it was simply dreadful.I’d read a good deal about Jessie Burton and I know her first book, The Miniaturist, has proved to be something of a literary sensation. This book, her second, sounded interesting too: interlocking stories set in 1930’s Spain and 1960’s London. There’s a mystery concerning a painting too – I liked that, it reminded me of the excellent The Last Painting of Sara de Vos. And I was attra I pressed on beyond half-way but then gave up. First DNF in a while. In truth, I thought it was simply dreadful.I’d read a good deal about Jessie Burton and I know her first book, The Miniaturist, has proved to be something of a literary sensation. This book, her second, sounded interesting too: interlocking stories set in 1930’s Spain and 1960’s London. There’s a mystery concerning a painting too – I liked that, it reminded me of the excellent The Last Painting of Sara de Vos. And I was attracted by the fact that the audiobook was to be read by the brilliant actress Cathy Tyson. So why didn’t the whole add up to the sum of it’s parts? Well, I can’t tell you about the whole, but I can tell you about the half of it.1. It started slowly and never speeded up; there were lots of words but very little action. And this in itself wouldn’t have been so bad if the words themselves drew me into a story I felt compelled to listen to. They didn’t and I wasn’t. 2. The prose was flowery beyond belief. This was compounded by the fact that the reader seemed to continually adopt an overwrought style more befitting a Shakespearian play. The accents also seemed exaggerated to the point of distraction.A big disappointment.
    more
  • Candi
    January 1, 1970
    *3.5 stars*Having previously read Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist, I was quite excited to pick up a copy of her newest novel, The Muse. I must say that although this one was a decent read, I enjoyed The Miniaturist more. I think what captured me with her earlier novel was the atmosphere and the characters. The mood in The Miniaturist was stifling, but in a way that intrigued me and pulled me into the story. I became attached to the main character there, but less so here. However, the premise of *3.5 stars*Having previously read Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist, I was quite excited to pick up a copy of her newest novel, The Muse. I must say that although this one was a decent read, I enjoyed The Miniaturist more. I think what captured me with her earlier novel was the atmosphere and the characters. The mood in The Miniaturist was stifling, but in a way that intrigued me and pulled me into the story. I became attached to the main character there, but less so here. However, the premise of The Muse was compelling enough to keep me turning pages. I was invested in the mystery and needed to follow it through to the conclusion.The Muse utilizes a dual storyline, alternating between late 1960s London and civil war-torn 1930s Spain. I typically enjoy this approach, and for the most part it worked for me here. We see London through the eyes of Odelle Bastien, an immigrant and aspiring writer from Trinidad. Odelle has become disenchanted with her vision of England. "I thought London would mean prosperity and welcome. A Renaissance place. Glory and success. I thought leaving for England was the same as stepping out of my house and onto the street, just a slightly colder street where a beti with a brain could live next door to Elizabeth the Queen." Having worked in a shoe store with her best friend for far too long, Odelle quickly seizes an opportunity to work as a typist at the Skelton gallery. Here she will encounter the impenetrable character that is Marjorie Quick. "Quick always insisted on skirting her own truths whilst getting to the core of yours." Quick takes Odelle under her wing and urges her to pluck up the courage to follow her lifelong dream of writing. One day, a mysterious painting arrives at the Skelton, unearthed by a young man named Lawrie Scott. Odelle becomes immersed in discovering the origins of this very remarkable work of art. Jumping back in time to 1930s Spain, the Schloss family – Harold, Sarah and daughter Olive – have rented a country estate from a duchess where as outsiders they will experience the political unrest of a divided nation. The Schlosses soon cross paths with brother and half-sister Isaac and Teresa Robles. Olive’s relationship with these two becomes quite complex and where she stands with both is not always clear to her. Isaac is an artist and an agitator. Teresa is cagey and Olive is not certain if she can be trusted or if she truly is the greatest of friends. "She had never had a friend like this, in her private room, combing her hair, listening to her, talking about silly nonsense and the uselessness of one’s parents; how the future was perfect, because they hadn’t lived it yet." Olive’s father, Harold, is an art dealer who takes a professional interest in Isaac, while Olive herself feels restrained by the options afforded her due to her gender as well as her father’s small-minded prejudices. Turmoil and violence within Spain eventually escalate and the Schlosses and the Robles’ will find themselves directly enmeshed with the struggles of this country. I enjoyed the mystery behind the extraordinary painting and though I never really became fond of Odelle, I did hope she would find some answers and perhaps her own personal success. As with two other recent books involving works of art, I savored the descriptions of paintings, the hard work and dedication of the artist. However, having completed The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova just prior to this novel, I unfortunately couldn’t help making comparisons. The characters in The Muse just did not fascinate me to the same extent. The dialogue did not always ring true, nor did the relationships. Perhaps it is unfair to compare the two books, but I really can’t help it after having read them both consecutively. Because this book did contain enough to hold my interest, I would certainly not hesitate to read the next Jessie Burton novel. She does spin an interesting tale.
    more
  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    January 1, 1970
    Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:In her follow-up to her acclaimed novel The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton adopts a dual timeline structure, following the lives of two creatively gifted women separated by time and place, but linked by a luminous, long-hidden painting that bodes well to take the art world by storm, and a decades-old mystery about the artist. The Muse (2016) lacks the subtle element of magical realism that lent a mysterious aura to the dollhouse and the titular miniat Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:In her follow-up to her acclaimed novel The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton adopts a dual timeline structure, following the lives of two creatively gifted women separated by time and place, but linked by a luminous, long-hidden painting that bodes well to take the art world by storm, and a decades-old mystery about the artist. The Muse (2016) lacks the subtle element of magical realism that lent a mysterious aura to the dollhouse and the titular miniaturist who furnished it in her debut novel, but there are other compelling mysteries and themes that drive the plot of The Muse and knit together its two timelines.In 1967 London, Odelle Bastien, an educated Trinidadian immigrant who has lived in England for the past five years, is working in a shop selling shoes. London hasn’t turned out to be quite the promised land it once seemed to the younger Odelle: job opportunities always seem to evaporate when she meets employers face to face. Her last shoe sale is to a woman who has no toes on her feet ― a portentous moment that sticks with Odelle, and eventually makes its way into a short story that she publishes. Odelle is an accomplished poet and author, but struggles with her writing and with allowing others to see it. She’s delighted to finally get a better job as a typist for an art gallery, bringing her closer to the world of art and culture that she loves. One night she meets Lawrie Scott, who shows her a painting he’s inherited from his mother that he has in the boot (trunk) of his car. When Lawrie tracks down Odelle later at her job, he brings the painting into the gallery, where it causes a sensation.In 1936 Spain, in the impoverished rural village of Arazuelo on the southern coast of Spain, Olive Schloss, a nineteen year old artist, lives in a rented villa with her expatriate parents. Her father is a Viennese art dealer who doesn’t believe women can be true artists, and is totally unaware of his daughter’s talent. Olive hides her artwork, along with her invitation to study art at a London art school. Either from uncertainty or a feeling that her artistic future lies elsewhere, Olive never responds to the art school. Her decision to stay is solidified when she meets Isaac Robles, an art teacher and revolutionary, and his young sister Teresa. Olive befriends Teresa and falls in love with Isaac, who inspires her to paint greater art than Olive has ever created before. Isaac’s minor talent at painting, Teresa’s desire to have Olive become known for her art, and Olive’s compulsion to keep it secret, collide, with unexpected consequences for all three of them.Burton chooses two unusual cultures for her settings: 1960’s London, from the viewpoint of a Caribbean immigrant, and pre-Civil War Spain in 1936, also seen from an outsider’s point of view. Burton’s research is impressive, particularly with the Spanish part of the story. It adds a lot of color to the story, though it does occasionally bog down the pace. The Muse touches on social issues in both eras: the divisions in Spain that led to the civil war, as well as the more subtle racism that limits Odelle’s opportunities in London and make her grateful to get a job as a typist.The characters in The Muse are deeply flawed but engaging. Odelle’s prickly exterior hides uncertainty about her talent and her place in London society. She speaks faultlessly proper English to everyone except her best friend Cynth, when she switches to a Trinidadian patois, and it’s never clear which Odelle views as the truer reflection of her inner self. Odelle is attracted to Lawrie but pushes him away at the same time, for reasons that are never entirely clear even to Odelle (let alone the reader). Olive has similarly troubled personal relationships with her parents and with Isaac, who slips into a love affair with her mostly because of the strength of Olive’s infatuation with him, a tenuous basis for a relationship that is shaken even further by the deception Olive insists on relating to her artwork.Like The Miniaturist, The Muse has a work of art as its centerpiece, but in this book the relationship of the characters to the painting and to art generally is much more the focus of the plot. Jessie Burton’s blog talks about her internal struggles with her relationship to her own written art in the aftermath of the unexpected international success of The Miniaturist, and The Muse reflects some of those thoughts and concerns. The female protagonists both struggle with their creativity, each hiding it from public view to one degree or another. The painting that the plot revolves around echoes the theme of a woman suffering because of her art. Even Odelle’s initial experience with the toeless woman resonates and later resurfaces in literary form.But her presence does seem a macabre end to that chapter of my life. Did she see in me a kindred vulnerability? Did she and I occupy a space where our only option was to fill the gap with paper?The Muse is a little slower-paced and may not resonate with all readers, but I found it a meaningful story with an appealing cast of characters and intriguing settings that complemented the plot. Olive’s artwork is so vividly described that it felt real to me, like I was seeing it in my mind’s eye. The Muse is similar in structure and feel to a Kate Morton dual timeline mystery like The Forgotten Garden or The Secret Keeper (complete with some romance and a twist), and will appeal to readers who like that type of a story, but it’s more ambitious in its concept and scope, and doesn’t go for the easy resolution. It’s a rewarding read.
    more
  • Simon
    January 1, 1970
    You know when you love a book so much you're ridiculously excited and desperate to read the authors next but also really worried you won't love it as much which makes your tummy go funny... then you read it and kick yourself because it's utterly superb? That's what's happened with The Muse. It's fuzzing brilliant and I was a foolish nervous fool.
    more
  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    I must have been living under a rock for the last few years. I had never heard of Jessie Burton or her first, immensely popular novel “The Miniaturist”, before The Muse came into my radar. I don’t tend to read much historical fiction, so perhaps that is why it was lost on me. There has been a lot of hype surrounding this book because of the former, and I got to ignore all of that and come at my review with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective.The Muse is set in two time frames; In the 1960’s, Odel I must have been living under a rock for the last few years. I had never heard of Jessie Burton or her first, immensely popular novel “The Miniaturist”, before The Muse came into my radar. I don’t tend to read much historical fiction, so perhaps that is why it was lost on me. There has been a lot of hype surrounding this book because of the former, and I got to ignore all of that and come at my review with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective.The Muse is set in two time frames; In the 1960’s, Odelle moves from Trinidad to London to pursue her dream of being a writer. She gets a job typing at an art gallery, working for an eccentric woman known as Quick. When she meets a man who possesses an unusual and haunting painting, she delves into the mystery of where the painting came from, who the painter was, and what happened to him. Back in time to 1936, Olive and her parents move to Spain where she becomes enamoured with a local young man Issac, who is a revolutionary and an artist. He agrees to paint a portrait of Olive and her mother as a surprise for her father, and this gesture leads to a whole lot of catastrophic events, and melds both time frames together.As soon as I started reading The Muse I was captured by the writing. Usually historical fiction and I don’t get on very well, but I breezed through this book as if I had read it before. I enjoyed the jumps back and forth in time, each jump giving away bit by bit of the storyline until the final climactic chapters.I must admit, the key twists were not lost on me, I picked them up quite quickly. However there was always still some doubt if my suspicions were correct throughout.I loved all the twists and turns, drama and intrigue. There were a few times, especially in the 1930’s Spain setting, that it got slightly slow for me, but I think again that is my usual indifference to historical fiction coming through, rather than any fault of the writer.Overall I really enjoyed the atmosphere, both the settings and I found the characters to be well written and engaging.Would I recommend The Muse?Yes, historical fiction fans – I think you will really enjoy it! Now I’m off to add The Miniaturist to my to-read pile!Many thanks to author Jessie Burton via publisher Pan Macmillan for a copy of The Muse in exchange for my honest review.For more reviews check out my blogwww.booksbabiesbeing.comFacebookwww.facebook.com/booksbabiesbeingTwitterwww.twitter.com/BBB_Mel
    more
  • Hannah Greendale
    January 1, 1970
    When good covers happen to bad books, the end result is something like The Muse. Slogging through this book is as much fun as watching paint dry. Never has a book taken so long to reveal such a predictable plot. The book's weaknesses are many, and examples follow with passages carefully selected to avoid spoilers. The author explores various vernaculars, but the execution is awkward to read and a painful distraction: 'Ah not readin' at some meet-up, Cynthia,' I said, wrinkling my nose. 'Make no When good covers happen to bad books, the end result is something like The Muse. Slogging through this book is as much fun as watching paint dry. Never has a book taken so long to reveal such a predictable plot. The book's weaknesses are many, and examples follow with passages carefully selected to avoid spoilers. The author explores various vernaculars, but the execution is awkward to read and a painful distraction: 'Ah not readin' at some meet-up, Cynthia,' I said, wrinkling my nose. 'Make no mistake.' She sighed. 'I not. Is just that you better, Odelle. You better and you know it, and you doin' nothin'.' 'Eh heh,' I said. 'I busy. I work. You go with your G Plan and stop all this foolishness. What, because I got no husban' foot to worry me, I better go speakin' my poetry an' ting?'One of the two primary protagonists has a fractured voice. She goes from speaking in clipped, accented sentences, 'This is what bothering me. Because listen to this; she running out of time on something, I sure of it.' to complete sentences with use of conjunctions, 'I don't know what he wants. But surely an exhibition can only be a good thing.', and her voice as narrator is more refined and lyrical than any of her dialogue: Where I was from, doing your own work was the only wake-up from the long sleep which followed the generations in the fields. It was your way out. It's hard to change the messages that circulate all your life, especially when they've been there since before your life was started.Descriptions come across as such a forced attempt to be literary that the text is laughable: Oblivious rabbits hopped across the orchard and far off in the hills goats were being herded, the bells on their necks clanking atonally and out of rhythm, a calming sound because it lacked any conscious performance. A hunter's gun rang out, and birds rose in chaos against the baroque Andalusian morning.Her mother probably hoped her long-sought tranquility was to be found here -- but there was a wildness under the tolling convent bell, the chance of wolves in the mountains. The futile yaps of a dog in a barn would puncture every silence. Because the descriptions are so contrived, it's sometimes difficult to discern if the text contains a typo or is just poorly written: I wanted the blues to be louder, for a pair of these wine-flushed stuffed shirts to break into a jive, whirling one old tanty round till she false teeth fly. 'Do you know how many people would give their eye-teeth to be in the London Review?'To be fair, the author occasionally gets it right. One of the greatest elements of the book -- aside from its deceptively luscious cover -- is this lyrical passage: It was a time of long evening shadows, the raw rasp of crickets filling the hot night. The fields were now shades of parsley, lime and apple. Wildflowers; spattered reds and royal purples, canary-yellow petals moving in the breeze. And when the wind got up, salt tasted on the air. No sound of the sea -- but listen, and you could hear the articulated joints of a beetle, trundling through the corn root. Just when the book is finally nearing its end, a load of exposition is shoved down the reader's throat, followed shortly thereafter by a not-so-surprising climactic scene. If the author's intent was to bore her readers to tears, then she succeeded marvelously. To conclude: flowery prose is not enough to make up for an aimless plot.
    more
  • Perry
    January 1, 1970
    Paintings. Spain 1936. London 1967. A mystery. Romance. War. Art in life. Family. Friendship. Betrayal. Life in art. "Art rarely obeys human desire. I expect such a painting left its imprint even when he couldn't see it." "In the end, a piece of art only succeeds when its creator, . . ., possesses the belief that brings it into being."I intend to write a more complete review within the next 2 days. I just wanted to say, until then, that I really enjoyed this contemplation on the significance of Paintings. Spain 1936. London 1967. A mystery. Romance. War. Art in life. Family. Friendship. Betrayal. Life in art. "Art rarely obeys human desire. I expect such a painting left its imprint even when he couldn't see it." "In the end, a piece of art only succeeds when its creator, . . ., possesses the belief that brings it into being."I intend to write a more complete review within the next 2 days. I just wanted to say, until then, that I really enjoyed this contemplation on the significance of art in history and in life.
    more
  • Elena May
    January 1, 1970
    At first, I wasn’t planning to read this book. The Miniaturist didn’t impress me, and I wondered if I should give Jessie Burton another try when there are so many new authors to discover. Then, I realized the reason why The Miniaturist didn’t work for me is that a certain plot turned out random and pointless at the end, but I loved the characters and the writing itself. So I thought, if The Muse avoids this problem, it has the potential to be very good. And it is! In fact, it’s beautiful!Yes, At first, I wasn’t planning to read this book. The Miniaturist didn’t impress me, and I wondered if I should give Jessie Burton another try when there are so many new authors to discover. Then, I realized the reason why The Miniaturist didn’t work for me is that a certain plot turned out random and pointless at the end, but I loved the characters and the writing itself. So I thought, if The Muse avoids this problem, it has the potential to be very good. And it is! In fact, it’s beautiful!Yes, yes, I know. The mystery is predictable. And yes, I guessed the mysterious character’s identity pretty early on. But so what? I feel it’s wrong to think of this book as a mystery. It’s not about solving the puzzle; it’s about so much else.Such as...1) Art, artists, and the relationship between these.This book is about inspiration and the process of creation. About working in anonymity for the sole purpose of working vs. creating for acclaim or compensation, and about the freedom the former brings. The novel also touches on how the definition of art depends on people’s perception: “Was the difference between being a workaday painter and being an artist simply other people believing in you, or spending twice as much money on your work?” We also see how artists are often unable to separate themselves from their work: “Like most artists, everything I produced was connected to who I was - and so I suffered according to how my work was received. The idea that anyone might be able to detach their personal value from their public output was revolutionary.” So, so true, and that’s something many artists struggle with. If someone doesn’t like your work, it doesn’t mean they think you’re a terrible person, but at times this is difficult to believe.2) Immigration, integration, and the disillusionment that comes along.Odelle’s experiences in London were depicted really well. Her hopeless job search, her frustration with locals knowing nothing about Trinidad (although it was a part of the empire,) while she knows so much about London, always having to prove herself, always having to work five times as hard to be at the same level as her peers, everyone constantly misspelling and mispronouncing both her surname and her given name in ridiculous ways. And, most of all, Odelle’s own feelings about her experience: “I thought London would mean prosperity and welcome. A Renaissance place. Glory and success. I thought leaving for England was the same as stepping out of my house and onto the street, just a slightly colder street where a beti with a brain could live next door to Elizabeth the Queen." You don’t say. This is such a common phenomenon – some people, who’ve grown up in poor regions, think that places like England are these magical lands where money grows on trees, and the moment you manage to get there, everything becomes perfect and beautiful. While this way of thinking is less common nowadays with the easier spread of information, it’s still prevalent. I spent over a year living in London, and, at the end, it wasn’t the place for me. And now, whenever I go back home, I always get comments like, “But how could you possibly leave London? It must have been incredible. If only I could move there.” The reality is not that straightforward, and the book shows this beautifully.3) Class and culture.A very wealthy English-Austrian family moves to a poor region of Spain. The reaction of the local people is very realistic – they try to benefit from the visitors, while at the same way not getting too close, knowing these people are only passing through and will one day leave. The daughter, Olive, struggles with this reaction. She wants to be taken seriously, to show that this is her home and that their fights are her fight. It’s no surprise that no one believes her, and everyone thinks it’s all a game to her. At any point, she can get on her ship and leave war and danger behind. But Olive is determined, and she proves her loyalty in the most heartbreaking way possible.4) The original, complex characters and the relationships between them.That’s one thing this book has in common with The Miniaturist. And it’s a reason enough to read both! “She had never had a friend like this, in her private room, combing her hair, listening to her, talking about silly nonsense and the uselessness of one's parents; how the future was perfect, because they hadn't lived it yet.” However, I wasn’t sure about a couple of things. For example, Odelle’s dialect when she talks to her childhood friend. I can’t vouch for it’s authenticity: the one person from Trinidad I talk to on a daily basis speak nothing – absolutely nothing – like that, but he’s an Indo-Trinidadian, unlike Odelle, and he comes from a slightly later time, so I guess it’s possible. However, whenever Odelle speaks to the reader in her own voice, she sounds nothing like that, so it’s a bit strange. She either speaks like this naturally or she doesn’t, but the constant switching doesn’t make much sense.The book leaves some questions unanswered, such as how does (view spoiler)[Teresa (hide spoiler)], who comes to England with no resources and education, become wealthy and established and can afford a large cottage (the book tells us it’s not that big, but it’s described and the place is HUGE)? It’s hinted she succeeded because she could speak Spanish and German, which... is the case for millions of people in the UK. It’s not like these are the most unique qualifications with high demand and no supply. Yes, I believe she’s smart and resourceful, and there are way she could have made it, but it would have been nice to see hints pointing at a more reasonable explanation. Still, in terms of unresolved plots, this book is a huge improvement over The Miniaturist. Everything has a purpose and every plot fits nicely in the full picture.Can’t wait to see what the author writes next.
    more
  • Rebecca Foster
    January 1, 1970
    (3.5) I enjoyed this more than The Miniaturist. One of my chief criticisms of that overhyped novel was that the setting – a few months in Amsterdam – felt claustrophobic. Well, Burton has certainly changed things up: in her new book the action spans 40 years and encompasses London, Trinidad and Spain during its Civil War. Again there’s plenty of melodrama, but I liked the contrast between the two time periods and Odelle’s voice is easy to fall for.There have been a number of novels recently abou (3.5) I enjoyed this more than The Miniaturist. One of my chief criticisms of that overhyped novel was that the setting – a few months in Amsterdam – felt claustrophobic. Well, Burton has certainly changed things up: in her new book the action spans 40 years and encompasses London, Trinidad and Spain during its Civil War. Again there’s plenty of melodrama, but I liked the contrast between the two time periods and Odelle’s voice is easy to fall for.There have been a number of novels recently about researching the uncertain origins of a painting (The Suicide of Claire Bishop and The Last Painting of Sara de Vos are two that come to mind). This one works quite well in that the painting in question is vivid and has an interesting sainthood story behind it. Burton keeps you guessing about the link between the 1936 and 1967 subplots – at least twice you have to completely reconsider what the connection might be. Recommended.
    more
  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    I generously received a copy of the book from Harper Collins Publishers/Ecco. First, I absolutely loved Burton's debut novel The Miniaturist, so I was skeptical as to how I would like the 2nd novel. The books are totally different in nature. But, honestly, they are both fabulous reads and receive 5 stars from me! So, if you are a reader that loved or hated The Miniaturist, The Muse may be one to take a chance on. Seems like a win/win situation to me. I found with each of these novels, one must I generously received a copy of the book from Harper Collins Publishers/Ecco. First, I absolutely loved Burton's debut novel The Miniaturist, so I was skeptical as to how I would like the 2nd novel. The books are totally different in nature. But, honestly, they are both fabulous reads and receive 5 stars from me! So, if you are a reader that loved or hated The Miniaturist, The Muse may be one to take a chance on. Seems like a win/win situation to me. I found with each of these novels, one must be patient to allow the author to set the stage for both the plot and the characters.
    more
  • Celeste
    January 1, 1970
    For this and more of my reviews, as well as my friend Petrik's reviews, check out my new blog, Novel Notions. Actual rating: 3.5 starsIs there anything that holds as much sway over humankind as art? Whether it takes the form of music or a painting or a sculpture or the written word, nothing speaks to our souls like art. This gives artists a power over their fellow men and women. But no one doubts art so much as its creator, and so an artist’s audience holds within themselves the approval and pra For this and more of my reviews, as well as my friend Petrik's reviews, check out my new blog, Novel Notions. Actual rating: 3.5 starsIs there anything that holds as much sway over humankind as art? Whether it takes the form of music or a painting or a sculpture or the written word, nothing speaks to our souls like art. This gives artists a power over their fellow men and women. But no one doubts art so much as its creator, and so an artist’s audience holds within themselves the approval and praise that said artist craves, and thus artists rely on their audiences for the affirmation and reassurance needed to create their next work of art. However, if an artist isn’t careful they begin producing cheap imitations of the art that first garnered them attention, and so artists must be careful regarding how heavily they rely upon and value the opinions of others. They need something else to feed that need and fuel their creativity.They need a muse. “Like most artists, everything I produced was connected to who I was - and so I suffered according to how my work was received. The idea that anyone might be able to detach their personal value from their public output was revolutionary.”In order to create art that moves and speaks and matters, an artist must find their muse. Not every muse is someone for whom the artist has romantic feelings. A muse might be a child, or an enemy, or themselves. Or perhaps instead of a human muse, an artist is inspired by nature or laughter or the idea of love. Inspiration is everywhere, and an artist might be inspired by thousands of different things within their lifetime. But a muse is something that said artist keeps returning to, something that has the power to imbue their work with life and a lushness that nothing else can quite inspire.Odelle is a Trinidad native trying to make a way for herself in London during the 1960s. More than anything, Odelle longs to become a published writer, but doesn’t have the faith in herself or her work to take steps in that direction. One day, she is given a position at an art gallery as a typist, which is a big step up from her job selling shoes. On her first day at her new place of employment, Odelle meets Marjorie Quick, and her life will never be the same. “...Is there ever such a thing as a whole story, or an artist's triumph, a right way to look through the glass? It all depends on where the light falls.” After Odelle’s first meeting with Quick, as she refers to herself, the storyline diverges, taking us to Spain in 1936, before the beginning of World War II. Here we meet the Schloss family. Olive is our primary character from this timeline. Olive is nineteen and ready to go live her own life, but her parents have issues. Sarah, her mother, is a British heiress and a depressive who seems always on the brink of ending her life. Harold, Olive’s father, is a Jewish art dealer in a time where his heritage was beginning to make life uncomfortable. Neither have any idea that their daughter has applied to and been accepted by the prestigious Slade School of Fine Arts. Honestly, they don’t even know that she still paints, much less that she’s talented. Her father believes strongly that only men can create true works of art with depth and merit, and so she hides her gift. Or at least, she does until she meets Teresa and Isaac Robles, siblings from a nearby village. Olive reveals her art to Teresa, who makes a decision one day that irreversibly changes all three of their lives.There’s little else I can say about the plot of this book without giving something important away. While many of the twists were foreshadowed, there were a couple that came as a surprise to me. I confess that this is a story that would have benefited from a bit more characterization and a little less plodding prose. While the writing was lovely, it tended toward boggy. I liked what the novel had to say about art and the process of creation, and I appreciated that the book highlighted women as artists. But none of the relationships felt true, and the characters didn’t seem to like or accept themselves, which made them hard to enjoy. All of that boils down to this: I enjoyed the philosophical aspects of the story far more than the story itself. That being said, the book has merit, especially for people who appreciate the theory of art or are artists themselves.“A piece of art only succeeds when it's creator...possesses the belief that brings it into being.”
    more
  • Helene Jeppesen
    January 1, 1970
    It's funny how Jessie Burton is able to write stories that are quite similar, but that are still able to evoke very opposing emotions in me. Some years ago, I read "The Miniaturist" and I wasn't impressed. I still appreciated the story, though, and so I decided to get "The Muse" as well and read it. I'm so happy I did! It turned out that I liked this novel a lot better, and in many ways I read it at just the perfect time of my life. "The Muse" tells the story of two women: Odelle living in 1960s It's funny how Jessie Burton is able to write stories that are quite similar, but that are still able to evoke very opposing emotions in me. Some years ago, I read "The Miniaturist" and I wasn't impressed. I still appreciated the story, though, and so I decided to get "The Muse" as well and read it. I'm so happy I did! It turned out that I liked this novel a lot better, and in many ways I read it at just the perfect time of my life. "The Muse" tells the story of two women: Odelle living in 1960s London and Olive living in 1930s Malaga in Spain. It's a story about art, but it's also a story about history and destinies. From very early on in the book, I felt captivated with and invested in the story. It was simple, beautiful and I was eager to find out more about these intriguing characters. While I do think that Jessie Burton's stories, "The Muse" included, have some superficial faults with them, I appreciated "The Muse" a lot for its simplicity and beauty, and I'm so happy that I continued on with reading Jessie Burton because this reading experience was one that I wouldn't want to be without.
    more
  • Giovanna
    January 1, 1970
    I received this arc from Edelweiss and Harper Collins, in exchange for an honest review.*all these quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof of the book, so they might be subject to change. "My life was a beanstalk and I was Jack, and the foliage was shooting up and up, abundant, impressive, at such that I could barely cling on. I loved and I lost love; I found new creativity and a sense of belonging. And something deeper happened, something darker, which we have all gone through - and if we ha I received this arc from Edelweiss and Harper Collins, in exchange for an honest review.*all these quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof of the book, so they might be subject to change. "My life was a beanstalk and I was Jack, and the foliage was shooting up and up, abundant, impressive, at such that I could barely cling on. I loved and I lost love; I found new creativity and a sense of belonging. And something deeper happened, something darker, which we have all gone through - and if we have not, it is waiting for us - the indelible moment in when we realise we are alone."My, how beautiful is Jessie Burton's writing? Almost exactly a year ago (June 3rd 2015 actually) I was almost done with The Miniaturist. I loved it. I loved the writing, I loved the historical setting, I loved the story and every single thing about it. When I heard about The Muse I was extremely curious and being approved for an arc made me squeal with joy. Now, The Muse isn't as beautiful as The Miniaturist was imo, but it was indeed lovely and sad and everything inbetween. The plot follows two different but interwined timelines. We have Odelle, a Caribbean immigrant in London in 1967, and Olive Schloss, daughter of an art dealer in Spain in 1937. The story focuses on the discover, in 1967, of a long lost painting by Isaac Robles, a young artist whose life is pretty much a mystery, and it follows Odelle's search for information about it and its painter. This search brings her to Olive's story, set in Arazuelo in 1937, just a few months before Isaac's mysterious death.I immensely enjoyed reading Odelle's story. Her voice, her thoughts, everything fit. She's curious, she has a lively mind and she knows that, considering that she's an immigrant and a woman she has to work harder than most people to achieve her goal: becoming a published writer. Odelle is the kind of girl I want to see in books: smart, curious, strong in a quiet but unmistakable way. Her side of the story was lovely and touching."Suddenly, my thoughts were enormous in that tiny flat, because there was nobody to hear them and make them manageable, nobody cajoling me or supporting me, or holding out their arms for a hug.""Do you have a body if no one is there to touch it? I suppose you do, but sometimes it felt like I didn't. I was just a mind, floating around the rooms."I really liked Olive's story too, but I didn't like Olive as much as I wanted. Which is also the main reason why I preferred The Miniaturist to The Muse, even though I really liked the latter. I appreciated that Olive was a strong woman herself and that she wanted to prove something, but she came across as a bit naive and sometimes as someone who was too self-centered. I completely understood her need to be seen, but she didn't think about the consequences of her actions most of the time, and that definitely irked me. That said, Jessie Burton is a great writer. I thought so when I read The Miniaturist and I can't do anything but confirm it now. Her characters are well developed, her writing style is elegant and she's capable of describing human emotions in a realistic way. The plot might be a bit predictable in this case, but the final result wasn't any less beautiful because of it.(And the cover's gorgeousssssss.)
    more
  • Aditi
    January 1, 1970
    “Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” ----Pablo PicassoJessie Burton, an English author, has penned a deeply moving and intoxicating historical fiction novel, The Muse that narrates the story of two women separated by a timeline of almost thirty years, where the one is an aspiring Trinidadian woman who finds work as a typist in art gallery of London whose odd boss encourages and explores her talent in writing stories and one day, a mysterious painting lands up in that gallery “Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” ----Pablo PicassoJessie Burton, an English author, has penned a deeply moving and intoxicating historical fiction novel, The Muse that narrates the story of two women separated by a timeline of almost thirty years, where the one is an aspiring Trinidadian woman who finds work as a typist in art gallery of London whose odd boss encourages and explores her talent in writing stories and one day, a mysterious painting lands up in that gallery with a deeply buried secret, that will take the readers back in time when the other woman who is a young teenage girl, is trying to keep her artistic talents hidden from her dominating art dealer father's eyes and when she meets a young housemaid and her half brother, her life forever changes with life shattering actions.Synopsis: From the internationally bestselling author of The Miniaturist comes a captivating and brilliantly realized story of two young women—a Caribbean immigrant in 1960s London, and a bohemian woman in 1930s Spain—and the powerful mystery that ties them together.England, 1967. Odelle Bastien is a Caribbean émigré trying to make her way in London. When she starts working at the prestigious Skelton Art Gallery, she discovers a painting rumored to be the work of Isaac Robles, a young artist of immense talent and vision whose mysterious death has confounded the art world for decades. The excitement over the painting is matched by the intrigue around the conflicting stories of its discovery. Drawn into a complex web of secrets and deceptions, Odelle does not know what to believe or who she can trust, including her mesmerizing colleague, Marjorie Quick.Spain, 1937. Olive Schloss, the daughter of a Viennese Jewish art dealer and English heiress, follows her parents to Arazuelo, a poor, restless village on the southern coast. She grows close to Teresa, a young housekeeper, and her half-brother Isaac Robles, an idealistic and ambitious painter newly returned from the Barcelona salons. A dilettante buoyed by the revolutionary fervor that will soon erupt into civil war, Isaac dreams of being a painter as famous as his countryman, Picasso.Raised in poverty, these illegitimate children of the local landowner revel in exploiting this wealthy Anglo-Austrian family. Insinuating themselves into the Schloss’s lives, Teresa and Isaac help Olive conceal her artistic talents with devastating consequences that will echo into the decades to come.Rendered in exquisite detail, The Muse is a passionate and enthralling tale of desire, ambition, and the ways in which the tides of history inevitably shape and define our lives. Odelle Bastien, a well educated immigrant from Trinidad, is trying to give wings to her dreams of becoming a writer in London, but with no luck. After a long struggle, this black woman finds meaningful work in the land of white as a typist for a renowned art gallery, where she comes across a painting, by a talented late young artist, that is buried deeply with secrets and the owner of the gallery is hell bound to fetch a good price in a exhibition, but the origin of such a mesmerizing painting is leaving all curious, especially, Bastien's immediate boss, Marjorie Quick, who might be secretly investigating about the painting.Olive Schloss, the teenage daughter of a famous Jewish art dealer, who is spending her days in a forgotten village in Spain and with the onset of rising civil war, the art dealer is hell bound to sell the painting done by his housemaid's half brother, Issac, but little did he knew that his daughter too has artistic skills and is trying hard to hide it from him. And when Olive meets Issac and Teresa, her life changes with some shocking results.I have previously came across this talented author when her debut book, The Miniaturist came out, and I feel that its high time that I pick up her debut novel. Even though I'm not left satisfied with this new book, still I'm eagerly looking forward in reading her award winning debut novel, which is better than her second one. After reading this heart rending book, I came to this conclusion that the author knows well how to project her female protagonists with such vigor and power to empower them in the eyes of the common readers especially to make them epitome of brave women of their hard and struggling times. Right from the very beginning, the story will allure the readers with its charm, sadness, love, betrayal and art that all through 445 pages, the readers will find it difficult to break away from the enchanting spell of this story.The writing style of the author is fantastic, exquisite and is laced with deep heart felt emotions that will move the readers intensely. The narrative in the book is articulate, sensitive and thoughtfully projected by the author that will help the readers in looking at the well developed plot, but somewhere it lacked that depth which was needed to comprehend the plot better. Even though there are quite a few twists in the story, yet they are not properly unraveled throughout the story line, hence leaving not only loose ends, but also bit unpolished. The pacing of the book is smooth as the author peels the story of two women layer-by-layer. The backdrop of both Spain and England are strikingly portrayed just like an artist's painting, bright, true, real and vivid. The Spanish landscape that the author captured in the story line is magnificent and the readers will be transported to such a place within no time, The author also arrests the significant historical changes that took place in the shifting time line of the book alongside its destinations. In London, the author slightly touches the practice of racism through a black protagonist and her struggles and also London itself comes alive with the author's descriptions about its remarkable landmarks, streets, housings, people, lifestyle and language. The characters from this book are extremely well developed, especially the central characters, Olive and Odelle. Odelle is an aspiring writer, who faces a lot of challenges on her way to achieve a meaningful job, and not to mention her wit and intellect will surprise many readers like it surprised the characters surrounding her. Olive, on the other hand, will come across as someone bit naive and when she falls for the handsome local boy, Issac, she devotes herself to him, despite his as well as his sister's efforts to bring Olive's talent in the limelight. Another character deserves worth a mention in the review is Marjorie, whose no-nonsense and independent demeanor will make the readers fall for her. Overall, the characters aren't that memorable yet etched out with finesse.In a nutshell, this ardent yet poignant book will arrest the minds of the readers that it won't let them look away from its elegance, beauty and pain. If not for the story, read the book for its strong female characters of those long forgotten era.Verdict: Slightly compelling yet extremely emotional and romantic story laced with history, love and passion for art. Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers from Pan Macmillan India for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.
    more
  • Eman
    January 1, 1970
    This is the first time I read for the author. The book has an attractive cover, but unfortunately the content was underwhelming for my taste. However, art lovers might enjoy it. Despite that I do love art, it still didn't capture my senses. I'll refine this review later and mention the points that I disliked.__________UPDATED REVIEW:Confession; I'm a shallow person who often falls for looks. I bought The Muse merely because of its cover. I eyed this pretty thing and thought "how gorgeous would i This is the first time I read for the author. The book has an attractive cover, but unfortunately the content was underwhelming for my taste. However, art lovers might enjoy it. Despite that I do love art, it still didn't capture my senses. I'll refine this review later and mention the points that I disliked.__________UPDATED REVIEW:Confession; I'm a shallow person who often falls for looks. I bought The Muse merely because of its cover. I eyed this pretty thing and thought "how gorgeous would it be to display this on my bookshelves?" then I read the synopsis at the back which wasn't bad at all. It sounded promising with a lot of mystery to decipher. Alas, it was a cliché moment when I judged a book by its cover. It's a good book to put someone suffering insomnia to sleep. I yawned a lot and paused a lot and read a lot of another book in between. I mostly exaggerate when I'm disappointed but I'll give credit where credit is due. It's not the worst book out there and it can appeal to someone with a different taste. I liked the beginning and parts near the unsatisfactory end. But the middle content was a meh. The author, Jessie Burton, has a brilliant ability to put fancy words together in sophisticated forms and I respect her for it. Her prose game is very decent and shows the potentials and capabilities of an illustrious writer, but still not in a mind-blowing way if you get what I mean. That said, the story didn't live up to her beautified writing style although it had so many attractive elements. The things I mostly disliked: - Generally speaking, the story dragged a lot going slowly without a fair amount of action to mention. And the plot felt too contrived as the events forced themselves to fall in place and serve the plot.- It takes a while getting the hang of the narrating style, jumping back/forth from the 1960s (England) to the 1930s (Spain). It wasn't executed swiftly. I lost enthusiasm since the first transition between the two time frames. - The mystery behind the painting wasn't as captivating as I hoped for. It wasn't a riddle you would enjoy solving. - The civil war parts were boring, and it felt like a dull history lesson that you could nap your way through. I believe the author could've done a better job to make it more interesting and fit for a novel.- Despite being the winning cards and points of strength in this book, the able use of vocabulary was distracting being aligned with a flat story. It seemed as if the author was trying too hard which doesn't look good.- Speaking of language, the dialect of Odelle/Cynthia was understandable but it didn't feel like it was the outcome of the author's background or first hand experience with people who speak it. Turns out from the acknowledgements at the end of the book that the author got aid from a professor to write the accent as accurately as possible. There's absolutely no harm is doing so, but it begs the question: why all the hassle to create a character coming from a foreign background when it's unnecessary? Wouldn't it serve the same purpose if Odelle were an English girl coming from a little town who has an accent? Or does her being a Trinidadian is just an attempt to make her more exotic? The girl being a Caribbean didn't add anything to the story. Last words: Cheers to the artist who made the cover, you sold me a book I wouldn't recommend to others.
    more
  • Bettie☯
    January 1, 1970
    BABThttp://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07j47q2Description: When on a summer's day in 1967, Odelle Bastien climbs the steps of the Skelton gallery in London to take up a position as typist, she little realises how significantly her life is about to change. For there she meets the glamorous and enigmatic Marjorie Quick, who soon takes Odelle into her confidence and encourages her to pursue her dream of writing. But Odelle senses there is something that Quick is holding back, and when 'Rufina and the BABThttp://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07j47q2Description: When on a summer's day in 1967, Odelle Bastien climbs the steps of the Skelton gallery in London to take up a position as typist, she little realises how significantly her life is about to change. For there she meets the glamorous and enigmatic Marjorie Quick, who soon takes Odelle into her confidence and encourages her to pursue her dream of writing. But Odelle senses there is something that Quick is holding back, and when 'Rufina and the Lion', a lost Spanish masterpiece is brought to the gallery, Odelle begins to suspect that the mystery behind the painting's origins and her mentor's secrecy may be somehow connected.The truth about 'Rufina and the Lion' lies in 1936 and a large house in rural Spain, where Olive Schloss, the daughter of renowned art dealer Harold Schloss and his beautiful but fragile wife Sarah, is harbouring artistic ambitions of her own. When artist and revolutionary Isaac Robles and his half-sister Teresa come into their lives, passion, art, and politics collide, with explosive and devastating consequences for them all.Weaving between events in 1967 and those of 1936, a powerful story of love, obsession, identity, authenticity and deception unfolds in this highly anticipated new novel from Jessie Burton, author of the best-selling The Miniaturist.1967 - Odelle Bastien starts work as a typist at the Skelton InstituteLawrie brings in his painting to the Skelton. In 1936, Olive finds artistic inspiration.Spain 1936 - Sarah Schloss has an unexpected proposition for a young painter, Isaac RoblesOdelle and Lawrie learn the identity of the artist of Lawrie's mother's paintingSpain 1936 - Isaac reveals his portrait of Olive and SarahAn exhibition of Lawrie's newly discovered Robles is mootedOlive prepares to send her painting 'The Orchard' to Peggy GuggenheimOdelle discovers another clue to the real story of 'Ruffina and the Lion'Spain 1936 - Political unrest escalates with devastating consequencesOdelle discovers Quick's secret and with it, the real story about 'Ruffina and the Lion'2* The Miniaturist3* The Muse
    more
  • Kyriaki
    January 1, 1970
    3,5*Αρκετά καλό και ευχάριστο θα έλεγα αλλά όχι κάτι παραπάνω.... Στο βιβλίο παρακολουθούμε 2 διαφορετικές χρονικές περιόδους:Η μια το 1967 με πρωταγωνίστρια την Οντέλ Μπαστιέν μια κοπέλα από το Τρίνινταντ που πήγε να ζήσει στην Αγγλία για μια καλύτερη ζωή. Εκεί αρχικά πιάνει δουλεία σε ένα υποδηματοπωλείο, αλλά στην συνέχεια της δίνεται η ευκαιρία να εργαστεί ως δακτυλογράφος σε ένα ινστιτούτο τέχνης, κάτι που θα φέρει τα πάνω κάτω στη ζωή της.Και μετά έχουμε και την Όλιβ Σλος από το 1936. Η Όλ 3,5*Αρκετά καλό και ευχάριστο θα έλεγα αλλά όχι κάτι παραπάνω.... Στο βιβλίο παρακολουθούμε 2 διαφορετικές χρονικές περιόδους:Η μια το 1967 με πρωταγωνίστρια την Οντέλ Μπαστιέν μια κοπέλα από το Τρίνινταντ που πήγε να ζήσει στην Αγγλία για μια καλύτερη ζωή. Εκεί αρχικά πιάνει δουλεία σε ένα υποδηματοπωλείο, αλλά στην συνέχεια της δίνεται η ευκαιρία να εργαστεί ως δακτυλογράφος σε ένα ινστιτούτο τέχνης, κάτι που θα φέρει τα πάνω κάτω στη ζωή της.Και μετά έχουμε και την Όλιβ Σλος από το 1936. Η Όλιβ μετακομίζει με την οικογένεια την σε ένα μικρό χωριό στην Ισπανία, όπου και γνωρίζουν την Τερέζα Ρόμπλες και τον αδερφό της Ισαάκ, έναν ανερχόμενο καλλιτέχνη. Και εκεί ξεκινάει η δική της περιπέτεια....Εντάααξει....κακό δεν ήταν σίγουρα, αλλά δεν ήταν και κάτι σπουδαίο. Να πω την αλήθεια, διαβάζοντας την περιγραφή περίμενα κάτι παραπάνω! Είχε λίγο μυστήριο, λίγο δράμα, λίγο αισθηματικό, λίγο τέχνη. Είχε και λίγο ισπανικό εμφύλιο, έθιγε και λίγο τη θέση των γυναικών εκείνη την εποχή και τις περιορισμένες ευκαιρίες που είχαν......αλλά εντάξει.....δεν με ικανοποίησε......Λίγο πιο κάτω από τη μέση και μετά νομίζω πώς κάπου το έχασε...ή έχασε εμένα.....ήταν και το τέλος λίγο προβλέψιμο...όχι αυτό ακριβώς που είχα υποθέσει βέβαια αλλά δεν μου προκάλεσε και ιδιαίτερη έκπληξη όπως θα ήθελα!Τώρα όσο για τους χαρακτήρες δεν έχω να πω και πολλά...τους βρήκα λιγάκι αψυχολόγητους.....ενώ στην αρχή μου ήταν σχετικά συμπαθείς στο τέλος κατέληξαν από αδιάφοροι έως...όχι συμπαθείς. Ενώ υπήρχαν φορές που οι αποφάσεις που έπαιρναν ήταν λογικές και σωστές κάποιες άλλες φορές οι ίδιοι χαρακτήρες έπαιρναν αποφάσεις ανεξήγητες!Τέλος θα ήθελα να πω πως δεν είμαι σίγουρη ότι κατάλαβα σε τι αναφέρεται ο τίτλος...γιατί μούσα;; προσωπικά πιο πολύ θα μου κόλλαγε να λέγεται Η Ζωγράφος....ή Η Καλλιτέχνης..........όχι δηλαδή ότι η μούσα είναι άσχετη....αλλά ντάξει.....τι να πω....Συμπαθητικό αλλά όχι κάτι ιδιαίτερο.....ίσως κάποια στιγμή αργότερα επιχειρήσω και Το κουκλόσπιτο της που λένε ότι είναι καλύτερο.... B.R.R.A.CE 2018: Ένα βιβλίο με όπλο στο εξώφυλλο ή στο τίτλο (περίστροφο, σχοινί, πριόνι, μαχαίρι, κτλ)
    more
  • Alena
    January 1, 1970
    I liked this a lot -- enough to stay up too late and sneak chapters in between errands. Mostly I appreciate its sense of unrest -- artistic, political, racial, relationship-based. I think Burton writes women well and there was enough mystery in the plot to make me want to keep turning pages.
    more
  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    The Muse is a book that could have been written just for me, it's a dual-time story and is set in 1930s Spain and 1960s London, the latter being one of my all time favourite eras for fiction. It's a vast, complex story that spans the decades and the continent and at its heart it has some wonderfully created female characters. It is a total joy to read, snaring the reader from page one as we meet Odelle; a young girl from Trinidad, who arrived in London a few years previously and works as a shop The Muse is a book that could have been written just for me, it's a dual-time story and is set in 1930s Spain and 1960s London, the latter being one of my all time favourite eras for fiction. It's a vast, complex story that spans the decades and the continent and at its heart it has some wonderfully created female characters. It is a total joy to read, snaring the reader from page one as we meet Odelle; a young girl from Trinidad, who arrived in London a few years previously and works as a shop assistant in Dolcis Shoes. London in 1967 is not the easiest place for Odelle to exist in. Looked at with distaste and often overlooked altogether, she is astounded when she is offered a job as a typist at the Skelton Gallery.Meanwhile in 1936, Spain is on the verge of war and revolution and Olive Schloss; daughter of Harold and Sarah, and aspiring artist is entranced by the mysterious and enigmatic brother and sister; Isaac and Teresa Robles.The author expertly and quite beautifully weaves the two stories together, seemingly only connected by a work of art, as the novel progresses, the two stories are knitted tighter and tighter together until each and every character has their own place in both parts.Jessie Burton's portrayal of the fierce divisions in Spain that led up to the Civil War is so clearly and cleverly done, her characters are vibrant yet complicated. Sometimes flawed, often misled, but always intriguing. London in 1967 is a colourful place, a mix of cultures trying to exist together and all this is centred around the world of art, and the discovery of a painting previously unknown and the cause of much excitement .. and also the knife that unpicks long-held secrets.I really enjoyed Jessie Burton's first novel, The Miniaturist, but I absolutely adored The Muse. It is a gripping, evocative and beautiful book, with characters who come alive and a plot that is unpredictable and surprising and wonderfully crafted. Absolutely wonderful, a book that I will be recommending to everyone I meethttp://randomthingsthroughmyletterbox...
    more
  • Maria João (A Biblioteca da João)
    January 1, 1970
    9,5 de 10*Que livro fantástico! Que leitura agradável e intensa! Adorei cada pedacinho desta história, principalmente da surpresa no final. Muito bem escrito, com uma narrativa muito bem construída, “A Musa” encheu-me as medidas.Já tinha anteriormente lido “O Miniaturista”, que embora tenha apreciado, pela sua originalidade e ambientação, achei um pouco arrastado. Já “A Musa” não tem nada de arrastado, a história flui e dá vontade de o ler sem parar. Comentário completo em:https://abibliotecadaj 9,5 de 10*Que livro fantástico! Que leitura agradável e intensa! Adorei cada pedacinho desta história, principalmente da surpresa no final. Muito bem escrito, com uma narrativa muito bem construída, “A Musa” encheu-me as medidas.Já tinha anteriormente lido “O Miniaturista”, que embora tenha apreciado, pela sua originalidade e ambientação, achei um pouco arrastado. Já “A Musa” não tem nada de arrastado, a história flui e dá vontade de o ler sem parar. Comentário completo em:https://abibliotecadajoao.blogspot.pt...
    more
  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    I did not care for The Muse very much. Don't get me wrong, the writing was well-crafted, but I just couldn't connect with the story and the characters. When it comes to the plot, you'd think that a mystery involving two generations, lost art, feminist undertones, and Spanish Civil War would create a perfect narrative, but alas it failed to excite me. The characters that were supposed to glue this narrative only dragged it down with their illogical behaviors and shallow exteriors. The two protago I did not care for The Muse very much. Don't get me wrong, the writing was well-crafted, but I just couldn't connect with the story and the characters. When it comes to the plot, you'd think that a mystery involving two generations, lost art, feminist undertones, and Spanish Civil War would create a perfect narrative, but alas it failed to excite me. The characters that were supposed to glue this narrative only dragged it down with their illogical behaviors and shallow exteriors. The two protagonists suffered a lot of what I like to call a "tripple S"- "Special Snowflake Syndrome". Let's take a look a bit closer.Odelle is a young woman originally from Trinidad, trying to make a living in London beyond selling shoes to people wealthier than her. She apparently has a talent for writing. You know how I know? The author told me. That poem she was embarrassed to read at her friend's wedding brought the room to a hush and the verge of tears. That first short story she had ever written and given to her boss for a critique miraculously made its way to London Review to glowing praises. Who knew it was so easy to become a writer? Doesn't it take years to polish your skill? I mean Margaret "frickin'" Mitchell was rejected 38 times before Gone with the Wind was published! But, everyone singles out Odelle as this special girl in their lives for no reason. While love is blind, and I am willing to assume that Lawrie's instant affection for her was all in the hormones, why would Quick single her out from all other employees and make her a close confidant out of the blue? Not only that, but to go so far as to pass on her most closely guarded secret to Odelle and even leave her inheritance? Such an unbelievable turn of events. Why? I was the only one who’d ever been willing to find out Quick’s true story. A little presumptuous, are we?And, why did she have to be a Trinidadian? There is seriously no reason, beyond trying too hard to insert a "poc" into your book. I wish Trinidad or at least its culture were somehow involved in the story. Odelle might have been a born Londoner of Caribbean descent to the same effect. She could have been a Caucasian or a Martian for all the good it had done. There is writing an ethnically diverse cast of characters, and there is being a Disney PC machine. When it came to Olive, she became insufferable very quickly. She blamed misogyny for being unable to pursue art in her own right, but it seemed that her sole motivation was to stick it to her father. It was a game for her - a giant farce, and it really bothered me. Her, hanging all her ability for outstanding art on a man, who clearly couldn't give a crap about her, bothered me. She chose to be a victim to be some kind of martyr, and that is not the story I want to hear. And of course, I was not inclined to believe into yet another prodigy residing in this book. Not a terrible novel, but I could not care less for it, even if I tried.
    more
  • Gitte
    January 1, 1970
    Odelle Bastien is an intelligent young woman with author ambitions and an interest in art. When she takes a job at an art gallery, she becomes friends with her boss, the mysterious Marjorie Quick, who has a big secret. Odelle becomes entangled in a complicated story about art, gender and deceit. With flashbacks to Spain in 1936, the secret is revealed bit by bit.From a decade of devouring novels, Olive knew that charming men were deadly. Their story had been played down the centuries, unharmed Odelle Bastien is an intelligent young woman with author ambitions and an interest in art. When she takes a job at an art gallery, she becomes friends with her boss, the mysterious Marjorie Quick, who has a big secret. Odelle becomes entangled in a complicated story about art, gender and deceit. With flashbacks to Spain in 1936, the secret is revealed bit by bit.From a decade of devouring novels, Olive knew that charming men were deadly. Their story had been played down the centuries, unharmed through the pages, whilst girls were blamed and girls were lost.'The Muse' is in many ways an interesting and engaging book. The theme of the role of women in the art world reminded me of Siri Hustvedt's 'The Blazing World' from 2014 - although Jessie Burton is no way near as talented as Hustvedt.… it feels as if there’s a place, a shining citadel of perfection I have in my mind. And with each canvas and sketchbook, I’m inching closer and closer to it.It was a good story, yet something seemed off. The characters did not seem real to me. The decisions they made seemed controlled by the points Burton wished to make. The plot was constructed to seem more dramatic than it really was. In the beginning there were many small hints that something very dramatic would happen later. I cannot remember specific examples, but the beginning had many sentences like "If we both knew what would come next, we would probably have turned around and gone the other way." When I turned the last page I still didn't understand why. Nothing dramatic happened that could have been avoided by the characters' actions.The conclusion of the love story was refreshing - and that's all I will reveal.
    more
  • Bandit
    January 1, 1970
    I actually haven't read Burton before, although I was aware of the success of her debut, The Miniaturist, and its lovely cover. And so I can't speak to how this hold up as a sophomore effort, but on its own it's a thing of beauty. The sort of novel that really draws the readers in, emotionally devastates them, moves, awes, wows. In short, it's the book that makes you love books and their diverting, engaging and stirring powers. Plot wise, it's a story of two separate, intersected, although you w I actually haven't read Burton before, although I was aware of the success of her debut, The Miniaturist, and its lovely cover. And so I can't speak to how this hold up as a sophomore effort, but on its own it's a thing of beauty. The sort of novel that really draws the readers in, emotionally devastates them, moves, awes, wows. In short, it's the book that makes you love books and their diverting, engaging and stirring powers. Plot wise, it's a story of two separate, intersected, although you won't know until the very end just how much so, timelines, linked by art, love and secrets, although no necessarily in that sequence. First (chronologically) timeline takes place near Malaga Spain, just as the country is on a brink of a devastating civil war, compounded by the impending WWII casting its dark shadows over Europe and deals with a family of an art dealer. The second timeline is set three decades later, in London, and deals with a young Trinidadian immigrant who though her new job and a new boyfriend comes across a stunning work of art with a mysterious past. Burton alternates both narratives so cleverly that it's more than just a drama, a love story, historical fiction or a war tale, it's also a fascinating mystery and every aspect works terrifically for a terrific total effect. Despite being far from a light read, it was actually a pretty quick one, owning as much to pacing as it did to the magnetic page turning attraction of a great book. Most enthusiastically recommended.
    more
  • Sandra
    January 1, 1970
    Review to come.
  • Morana Mazor
    January 1, 1970
    Nakon Minijaturstice u kojoj ostajemo bez odgovora na kraju knjige, Muza je sasvim fino zaokružena cjelina. Iako se meni više svidjela atmosfera i ideja Minijaturistice i u Muzi nam je Jessi Burton pružila lijepu priču u seoskom ozračju Španjolske.
    more
  • Thomas Strömquist
    January 1, 1970
    By a stroke of luck, aspiring writer Odelle Bastien lands an assistant job at an art gallery as one of the two managing partners, Ms Quick, takes a liking to the young girl and decides to give her a chance. Odelle meets a young man at a party and, on account of finding her again, he ends up at the gallery. Fate has it that he has recently inherited a painting after his mother and would like to have it valued. Quick reacts violently to seeing the painting, running out of the building in a close t By a stroke of luck, aspiring writer Odelle Bastien lands an assistant job at an art gallery as one of the two managing partners, Ms Quick, takes a liking to the young girl and decides to give her a chance. Odelle meets a young man at a party and, on account of finding her again, he ends up at the gallery. Fate has it that he has recently inherited a painting after his mother and would like to have it valued. Quick reacts violently to seeing the painting, running out of the building in a close to panic. A few moments later her older partner, Mr Reede, can't hide his interest.The explanation (I hesitate to say 'mystery', because it's really not that kind of book) behind the painting and how it affects the protagonists lies to find in 1936 Spain. Here, on the brink of civil war, we learn the history of how it came to be and what happened to the people around it. The story alternates between the (1967) setting in London and this one and, following a brief confusion at the first time jump, I found the story quite irresistible. Characters are very well drawn, which I appreciate immensely, and the story and narrative are top. It's quite low-key, despite some very dramatic events, and the pacing is calm (as opposed to slow). Took a while to capture me and I would say to anyone hesitating at 10-20 % that it will be very well worth pushing on.Very little separates this from a full five stars, I will be reading more and I recommend this one strongly.
    more
Write a review