Book Review: The Muse by Jessie Burton

27213208Title : The Muse

Author : Jessie Burton

Publisher : Ecco

Release date : July 26th, 2016

Rating : 3.5/5

Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

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 . . .

Review :

This book reminded me of why I love reading in the first place.

When I requested The Muse, it wasn’t because I was attracted to the subject. Actually, I was utterly uninterested in the plot, which featured a mysterious painting and super vague references to character changes. All in all, the plot wasn’t impressive.

What drew me to The Muse was the author, Jessie Burton. I had heard of her work before with The Miniaturist, and I thought it would be nice to give her a try with this one. And boy, did I enjoy my reading! Again, I wasn’t invested in the story; I was invested in her writing. Wow wow and wow! She could have been writing about someone’s stance for pages and I would have been sucked in nonetheless. Her words just flow effortlessly, in a way that captivates the reader with its rhythm and vividness and a certain kind of dry politeness.

In the beginning, it started out slow, and never really picked up any pace. There wasn’t a lot of action, I didn’t feel very active while reading the book, but the atmosphere and the characters made up for it so much that it counterbalanced the lack of “physical excitement”. What can I say, Burton’s writing was -and is- formidable. What excited me throughout my reading were the drama and intrigue, the mystery going on around that painting. What also helped greatly to add to this story’s awesomeness was the amount of research Burton must have done to come up with a believable plotline. It was obviously very well researched, and I felt like I actually learnt some things from it.

The characters themselves were stars in their own right. On the one hand, we have Odelle Bastien, in the 1960s. She is a well-educated, curious and lively poet, who is very conscious as to how hard she has to work in order to become a published writer since she’s an immigrant. As a poet, she has a way with words that is completely lovely and appealing, which made her my favorite character. Odelle is, actually, the perfect heroine, one who isn’t too annoying because of recklessness and one who isn’t too perfect as a character. On the other hand, we have Olive Schloss, in the 1930s. She’s cool also, but compared to Odelle, she’s rather plain. She’s the one who paints and allows another to take all the credits. So obviously, that says something about her, but I guess Odelle was just too radiant for me to appreciate Olive like I should.

All in all, it was a great read! The writing and characters were awesome, but I would only recommend this book for those who are already into reading.

** Thank you to Edelweiss and to Ecco for providing me with an e-copy of this novel.

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