The Muse: A Novel (Paperback)
“Love, war, desire, and art—it’s all here.” —Elle
Two Women. Two Eras. One painting that ties them together.
July 1967, Mayfair, London--a painting is left propped on the doorstep of the Skeleton Gallery, discovered by Odelle Bastien, a Caribbean émigré trying to make her way in London. The painting is rumored to be the work of Isaac Robles, whose mysterious death has confounded the art world for decades. The excitement over the painting is only matched by the tension around the conflicting stories of its discovery. Odelle is unsure who or what to believe as she is drawn into a complex web of secrets and deceptions.
Thirty years earlier, Olive Schloss, the daughter of a Viennese Jewish art dealer, follows her parents to a village in southern Spain that is rife with unrest. It is here Olive meets María Teresita, the young housekeeper, and María’s half-brother Isaac Robles, an ambitious painter newly returned from the Barcelona salons. The illegitimate offspring of the local landowner, neither sibling has anything to lose when by exploiting these new guests in their poverty-stricken town. As they insinuate themselves into the family, the consequences are devastating and echo into the decades to come.
In vividly rendered detail, acclaimed author Jessie Burton spins a 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.”