The Muse

The Muse

Book - 2016
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Odelle Bastien, a Caribbean émigré living in London in 1967, 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. As she tries to sort through the conflicting stories of its discovery, she does not know who to believe, including her art gallery colleague, Marjorie Quick. The mystery surrounding the painting includes Olive Schloss, the daughter of a Viennese art dealer and English heiress, who lived in a small coastal Spanish village in 1936, just as Spain was heading into civil war; two illegitimate children of the local landowner, who become part of the Schloss family's lives; and deceit, lust, greed, and betrayal.
Publisher: New York, NY :, Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,, [2016]
Edition: First Canadian edition
Description: 393 pages ; 24 cm
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780062409928
Branch Call Number: Burt
Additional Contributors: Burton, Jessie, 1982- Muse


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Jan 29, 2021

I really enjoyed this book. It drew me in and kept me reading until the end. Wonderful writing and descriptions. Loved the characters. Highly recommend!

Oct 02, 2018

Love, love Jessie Burton's writing; she has the gift of a great storyteller.

If you get the chance, try immersion reading and enjoy the worldly offering of accents from England, Trinidad, and Spain.

My favorite character was Olive, and I so did not see her demise coming.

'The Muse' would make a great book group read.

Mar 11, 2018

I didn't find it easy to read at the beginning, because of the compositions of phrases, sentences. But, more or less, from the middle of the book, couldn't stop reading.
Although, I think there are some unnecessary characters.
Interleaving chapters about distant and not so distant past, slightly complicates the smoothness of reading, but gradually you're getting used to it.
There are many unexpected twists.

liljables Oct 31, 2017

The Muse takes us back and forth through time, between the 1930s and 1960s. We begin in '60s London, where Odelle Bastien is still struggling to find her place in this iconic city, five years after leaving Trinidad. When a new relationship collides with her promising new job, a mysterious piece of art surfaces and raises questions in Odelle's personal and professional life. Flashback to northern Spain in the 1930s, where Olive Schloss and her parents have escaped the bustle (and the rising tension that would lead to WWII) of London. Olive has a secret passion (and legitimate talent) for painting, but she knows her art dealer father will never take her seriously; her work takes on a new fervency thanks to the inspiration provided by the Spanish countryside and their Spanish caretaker, Isaac Robles.

I think Burton made great use of this back and forth narrative structure. I'll admit that I found the 1960s story line slightly more compelling - Odelle's struggle with racism, her growing distance from her only friend from home, and her mentor/mentee relationship with her supervisor, Marjorie Quick, kept me eagerly awaiting those chapters. I also appreciated the fact that, even though her relationship with Lawrie kicked off the main plot, the romance itself took a back-burner to the platonic and professional relationships in Odelle's life. The alternating chapters were intriguing in their own right, with the inscrutable Robles siblings keeping me guessing until the last page. I'd hesitate to call this novel historical fiction, but you could almost call it "art fiction" - the author paid great attention to detail both in describing the production of the fictional works in this book, and in recounting the real-life pieces that were produced in Spain during this period.

May 18, 2017

Wasn't sure I was going to like it at first, but I enjoyed how the two stories came together.
Highly recommend this book.

Apr 19, 2017

It was a pretty easy read. The prose had a nice effortless flow. Definitely a few steps up from a Harlequin. It was however, full of chic cliches ... sex, wealth, glamour, violence.

The ending was a little too 'pat'. I said to myself, "oh puleeze" not another stereotypical happy ever after inheritance filled ending.

Characters were not fleshed out enough ... not even aptly described from a physical standpoint. It was impossible to visualize people, situations, places etc. Considering it was about art, that's rather odd

MGBustillo Oct 07, 2016

Odelle, a London resident from Trinidad in 1967, tells one part of a story about a picture and the many lives it encompasses. The other part is the Schloss family in Spain during the outbreak of civil war 1936. Burton ties it all together with a picture and the woman who are changed by its creation.

abruzzo79 Sep 21, 2016

"I was - both by circumstance and nature -a migrant in this world, and my lived experience had long become a state of mind."

Sep 20, 2016

An artfully crafted story! Burton combined two time periods in an easy to follow way. Yet, the later day claiming of authorship of the painting, and who's who, became somewhat predictable. Although I think her "Miniaturist" bestseller was more unique The Muse still proved a good read.

Sep 14, 2016

I enjoyed The Miniaturist, but The Muse kept me completely enthralled. This is a beautifully written book with a carefully laid out plot, rich with elements of mystery, symbolism, and a sense of place in London and a small Spanish village.

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Apr 18, 2017

“...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.”

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