The Muse: A Novel (Hardcover)
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August 2016 Indie Next List
“Burton's follow-up to The Miniaturist also takes place in the art world, but this time the settings alternate between London in the 1960s and pre-Civil War Spain in the 1930s. In 1967, a long-lost work by a dead Spanish painter turns up in London. Is it really an original Isaac Robles? Or is there a more complicated story behind the intriguing painting? A fun read with interesting meditations on the purpose and making of art.”
— Susan Taylor (E), Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY
From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The Miniaturist comes a captivating and brilliantly realized story of two young women—a Caribbean immigrant in 1960s London, and a bohemian woman in 1930s Spain—and the powerful mystery that ties them together.
England, 1967. Odelle Bastien is a Caribbean émigré trying to make her way in London. When she starts working at the prestigious Skelton Institute of Art, she 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. The excitement over the painting is matched by the intrigue around the conflicting stories of its discovery. Drawn into a complex web of secrets and deceptions, Odelle does not know what to believe or who she can trust, including her mesmerizing colleague, Marjorie Quick.
Spain, 1936. Olive Schloss, the daughter of a Viennese Jewish art dealer and an English heiress, follows her parents to Arazuelo, a poor, restless village on the southern coast. She grows close to Teresa, a young housekeeper, and Teresa’s half-brother, Isaac Robles, an idealistic and ambitious painter newly returned from the Barcelona salons. A dilettante buoyed by the revolutionary fervor that will soon erupt into civil war, Isaac dreams of being a painter as famous as his countryman Picasso.
Raised in poverty, these illegitimate children of the local landowner revel in exploiting the wealthy Anglo-Austrians. Insinuating themselves into the Schloss family’s lives, Teresa and Isaac help Olive conceal her artistic talents with devastating consequences that will echo into the decades to come.
Rendered in exquisite detail, The Muse is a passionate and enthralling tale of desire, ambition, and the ways in which the tides of history inevitably shape and define our lives.
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.”