Sunday, 9 October 2016

Book Review: The Muse by Jessie Burton

I got this book for my 21st Birthday and it's been stacked in a pile, waiting to be read for a while. I've read Jessie Burton's previous best-seller, The Miniaturist and gave it a 'meh' rating. It had drama and tragedy, but it was a long slog to read! Thankfully, The Muse is much better...

Set in two eras, 1967 in London and 1936 in southern Spain, the story revolves around four women - Odelle Bastien, Olive Schloss, Teresa Robles and Marjorie Quick - and how one painting connects them all. The discovery of the painting in 1967 starts the story of love, war, betrayal and death. If you're looking for a happy book, this isn't the one. But if you're looking for a book which'll get you asking 'why?' then gives it a read.

In 1967, Odelle applies for a job at the Skeleton Institute, an art gallery at St James in London, as a typist for Marjorie Quick. At Odelle's friends wedding reception, she meets a young man called Lawrie who discovers a painting kept by his late mother. The painting is brought to the Skeleton Institute, where they believe they have found a famous Issac Robles painting. From there the story in 1936 really begins to piece together who painted it, what story did it tell and how it made its way from Spain to England. 

It's 1936 and the Schloss family descend in southern Spain, meeting their house keeper, Teresa Robles and gardener Issac Robles. Olive begins a desperate crush on Issac and finds her muse for painting, but Issac poses as the painter to sell Olive's painting with her father, Harold. Then one evening during the civil war, Olive discovers the real Issac and that everyone holds a deep secret.

Throughout all this, Odelle is trying to work out the connection between Quick and the painting - why is she always uncomfortable talking about it? Why can't she even look at it? Right until the end you are kept guessing at how all four women are connected and what the significance of one painting can be. Just proof that a picture can hide a thousand words.... 

Another thing to mention is the amazing cover artwork. Only when you look really closely do you see hand grenades posed as perfume bottles, pistols shooting our flowers and snakes typing on a typist!

Have you read this book before? What are you currently reading?

Thanks for reading!
Rhiannon x

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