Jessie Burton: The Muse

I really enjoyed ‘The Miniaturist’. I remember thinking that there were definite indications that it was a First Novel, and I looked forward to seeing how the author would progress.

I really, really enjoyed ‘The Muse’. It has all the thoughtfulness and artistry and detail of ‘The Miniaturist’, but it reads a lot more smoothly. The characters are fascinating and delightful, and their relationships are both intriguing and completely believable.

‘The Muse’ has two distinct settings: 1930’s Spain, and 1960’s London. Both are intricately researched and beautifully painted, but they also contrast and complement one another so that there is no jarring clunk of gears when the scene changes, nor any confusion about where and when any of the action takes place. The connection between the storylines appears fairly early on, but their precise relationship gradually emerges as the themes of the stories intertwine.

I have to confess, I had worked out the two principle ‘twists’ long before they were revealed, but I think that’s OK. This is not a book which relies on shocks and surprises; and the theme of secrecy, of what is unsaid, is (for me) well served by the times when the narrators have to step neatly around the truth.

This book explores explicitly feminist themes (the title is not all it seems), as well as art, race, and the pain and joy of human relationships.

Oh, I have read some wonderful books this year! This is another one. My copy has already been passed on: Highly recommended.



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