The Muse: A Novel

The Muse: A Novel

by Jessie Burton


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“Love, war, desire, and art—it’s all here.” —Elle

Two Women. Two Eras. One painting that ties them together.

July 1967, Mayfair, London—a painting is left propped on the doorstep of the Skeleton Gallery, discovered by Odelle Bastien, a Caribbean émigré trying to make her way in London. The painting is rumored to be the work of Isaac Robles, whose mysterious death has confounded the art world for decades. The excitement over the painting is only matched by the tension around the conflicting stories of its discovery. Odelle is unsure who or what to believe as she is drawn into a complex web of secrets and deceptions.

Thirty years earlier, Olive Schloss, the daughter of a Viennese Jewish art dealer, follows her parents to a village in southern Spain that is rife with unrest. It is here Olive meets María Teresita, the young housekeeper, and María’s half-brother Isaac Robles, an ambitious painter newly returned from the Barcelona salons. The illegitimate offspring of the local landowner, neither sibling has anything to lose when by exploiting these new guests in their poverty-stricken town. As they insinuate themselves into the family, the consequences are devastating and echo into the decades to come.

In vividly rendered detail, acclaimed author Jessie Burton spins a tale of desire, ambition, and the ways in which the tides of history inevitably shape and define our lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062409935
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/16/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 304,464
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.94(d)

About the Author

Jessie Burton was born in London in 1982. She studied at Oxford University and the Central School of Speech and Drama. The Miniaturist is her first novel.

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The Muse 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story and the characters are wonderful. I very much enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jessie Burton has done it again. A lovely look at the art world. A mystery that keeps the reader guessing until the very end. Brilliant and worthwhile reading. ~*~LEB~*~
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A mystery which spans two time periods including the beginning of the Spanish civil war as well as complex relationships including some very interesting yet strange characters. The descriptions of life in Spain in the mid/later 1930's reminded me truly of Andalusian landscapes, village life and what could be going on in their daily lives at that time. Beautiful depiction of how the life in southern Spain, landscape, people freed a young female artist to express her awakening via paintings. Though there is romance, the deep bonds of female friendships where very real. A new favorite author for me!
Thebooktrail-com More than 1 year ago
This is going to be a big hit. Such a wonderfully painted picture of the art world across the 1930s and 1960s and the excitement of finding out the real story behind a art work is as captivating as it is brushed with strokes of insight. Two girls, separated by decades and countries, linked by poverty and lost dreams are intrinsically linked by a painting and the story of how it came to be. Odelle tells the story of how and when it is discovered with Olive there at the moment it is created – I loved the flashbacks and the threads of weaving one story and having the next one pick up the thread and carry it on. It reads like a painter would gradually dab the canvas and then stand back to see the full picture. I always look at paintings and wonder at their story – just look at The Girl with the Pearl Earring and Rembrandt’s Mirror . But it’s the muse that stands out for me. It holds you in it’s artistic arms and like the best artists, doesn’t let you see the full picture until the end, but it’s the fact that each brush stroke so delicately painted, that really makes the novel stand out. I felt very close to both girls in the book as their inner thoughts and feelings were carefully and wittily at times brought out – the scene in the shoe shop made me feel for her! The locations of course were an appeal but it was the secrets and intricacies of the art world which are very captivating. I understand nothing of art but this was like being immersed in its very creation as I discovered a lot via Odelle’s personal observations. The way the threads of the past and present wove together was just lovely to see – I felt as if I could smell the paint and feel the sweat of the painter’s brow on my own. Vivid, luscious and evocative of a Spain as civil war approaches. Jessie Burton – even your cover is stunning. I just loved this and it was a delectable joy as the story unfolded and the truth of the painting came to life. Read it, then place on your bookshelf then Stand back and enjoy – and appreciate it for the beauty both on the outside and within.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read. This book seamlessly moves from one time frame to another and tells an amazing tale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author writes with imagination and weaves a plot That is uniquely original, with enough true historical Historical facts to be interesting.the characters come To life as the conflicting stories unfold with the fascinating mysteries being solved.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly one of my favorite authors
Anonymous 9 months ago
Anonymous 9 months ago
I had trouble getting into this book at the beginning, but once the story got going I couldn’t put it down.
Valerian70 9 months ago
3.5 Stars I found myself a little disappointed, overall, in this book. Whilst I enjoyed Odelle's story in particular I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with Olive and started to skim read her sections. I have read a few books centred around the Spanish Civil War and it just seems to be a period of history that is unable to capture my imagination or hold my interest. It doesn't help that I found Olive to have few redeeming characteristics and, to me, she cam across as completely manipulative, selfish and entitled. Everything I can see (from the words on the page) that we are not supposed to really be feeling about her; nevertheless that is how she made me feel. I was far more interested in Odelle's 1960s London. There was so much left unexplored here that it left me quite frustrated. She is clearly a person of colour, a post-Windrush immigrant that was in a city that was close to embracing segregation and yet this is barely touched on, there are a couple of nods to it but nods are all they are and yet the prevailing attitudes towards the Irish and Coloured (can we use that word now? I use it here because it is contemporary with the setting of the book and less unpalatable than the other most common name bandied about) immigrants were harsh and would have had a major impact on their lives. In some ways Odelle is really just a foil to get Jack's painting seen by the gallery and to expose Olive's story. I also wanted to know much more about the enigmatic, gin swilling, chain smoking Marjorie Quick. Whilst it is true that towards the end of the book we learn much more about her personal history there is so much left unsaid about how she got where she is. Information that I found myself wanting to know, to immerse myself in. Basically, too much time was spent lingering in a parched Spain with Olive, her dissipated mother, distant father, the rebellious Isaac and the disaster zone that was Tere. These were a cast of characters that, whilst I understand their importance to the tale, I learned far too much about and was forced in to the company of. All I really wanted was a swinging Sixties London and the glorious Odelle.
Anonymous 11 months ago
lilybellschels More than 1 year ago
After being drawn to this book solely by its cover, I decided to purchase it after reading the synopsis...and I am so glad I did! The story is intriguing, unique, and held my attention through its entirety. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves art, mystery, and the story of life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jessie Burton has gifted her readers with an intelligent , thoughtful and beautifully crafted novel. No foolish "girly" prose to be found here . She obviously has done much research on the historical aspects of the story. Bravo !