The Muse by Jessie Burton
Published by Picador
Published 29 December 2016
WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT
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 . . .
Seductive, exhilarating and suspenseful, The Muse is an unforgettable novel about aspiration and identity, love and obsession, authenticity and deception – a masterpiece from Jessie Burton, the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist.
Not all of us receive the ends that we deserve. Many moments that change a life’s course – a conversation with a stranger on a ship for example – are pure luck. And yet no-one writes you a letter, or chooses you as their confessor, without good reason. This is what she taught me: you have to be ready in order to be lucky. You have to put your pieces into play.
WHAT I THOUGHT
This is my first time reading the author. I bought a paperback of her debut, The Minimalist ages ago and have never got round to reading it.
I really enjoyed The Muse. I loved the concept behind it, a beautiful painting with a dark, tragic history. I enjoyed the way the plot unravelled, moving back and forth between Odelle’s story when the painting is discovered and the past gradually revealing the origin of the painting and the reason for Quick’s response to it. I like it when author’s use this narrative style especially when it works well. I liked the characters and felt they were well rounded and well written. I wouldn’t say The Muse has the most original plot but it works well and I had a good time reading it. Things got quite dark towards the end and this worked really well for me. I enjoyed The Muse and would recommend it.