The Muse: A Novel (Paperback)
Odelle, a Caribbean woman living in London in 1967, meets a handsome friend-of-a-friend at a wedding party. Olive, the daughter of an art dealer father and English heiress mother, has recently relocated to Spain in 1937. She befriends a local brother and sister who offer glimmers of romance and friendship, respectively. A mysterious painting of unknown origin links these two women living in different times. This is a compelling story of how people sometimes hide or stifle the thing that makes them most happy to protect the people they care most about.
— From Michelle recommends
“Love, war, desire, and art—it’s all here.” —Elle
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 harboring 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.
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.
“A complex, vividly drawn tale... The intricate way in which Burton pulls the two plots together is unexpected and impressive, a most original story about creative freedom, finding one’s voice, and the quest for artistic redemption.”
— Publishers Weekly
“[A] smart blend of literary and commercial fiction with intriguing characters and a compelling mystery at its center... Burton creatively infuses historical fiction with mystery in her exploration of the far-reaching consequences of deception, the relationship between art and artist, and the complex trajectory of women’s desires.
“A simmering historical love story”
— Glamour UK
“Like its predecessor, this is a tale with a refreshingly feminist slant, interested in the slipperiness of meaning”
— Daily Mail (UK)
“[A] rich palette of ideas and emotions… The novel excellently explores the writing process itself.”
— Independent (UK)
The Muse is a brilliantly realised story, and the parallel narratives are perfectly balanced, propelling the story forward at break-neck speed... Jessie Burton can expect more awards to soon be coming her way.
— Sunday Herald, Scotland
“If you read and loved The Miniaturist, Burton’s enchanting bestseller set in 17th-century Amsterdam, The Muse arrives just in time for the end of summer... Love, war, desire, and art—it’s all here.”
“The Muse... asks us to pay close attention, given the unexpected paths that wander variously through time, race, global politics and art history…[A] well crafted tale that draws you in, and in the end, respects you as a reader.”
— Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Jessie Burton meticulously reconstructs two different worlds… and ruminates on the nature of truth in art.. Told with remarkable care and evident research… A serpentine tale about art, truth and artistic ambition… [A] beautifully constructed story of art, ambition and the sacrifices one makes in the pursuit of both.”