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The Muse

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  52,339 ratings  ·  3,407 reviews
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 Marj
Hardcover, 393 pages
Published July 26th 2016 by Ecco (first published June 2016)
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Michelle I am 100% with you on The Miniaturist, which I read after The Muse. The Muse is a really special book, and even though I read it months ago it's still…moreI am 100% with you on The Miniaturist, which I read after The Muse. The Muse is a really special book, and even though I read it months ago it's still with me. I don't think you'll be at all disappointed. I read that Jessie Burton likes to leave some mystery in her stories, to let the reader fill in and imagine the gaps. She definitely did this with The Miniaturist, but I feel like The Muse is tighter in this regard. (less)
Beverly Jean I am struggling with this book. I loved every word of the Miniaturist and couldn't wait for this book to come out. I could lose myself in the prior bo…moreI am struggling with this book. I loved every word of the Miniaturist and couldn't wait for this book to come out. I could lose myself in the prior book, experience everything the characters experienced and the emotions they felt. I was charmed by the characters and their struggles. With The Muse I am lost, can't connect with any of them, can barely force myself to read a few pages each night and find my mind wandering. I so want to love this book as I did the first but wondering now if, for me, I should just move on. I'm on about page 80. Wondering if anyone else struggled with it and then got caught up and if so at what point.

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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  52,339 ratings  ·  3,407 reviews

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Elena May
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
At first, I wasn’t planning to read this book. The Miniaturist didn’t impress me, and I wondered if I should give Jessie Burton another try when there are so many new authors to discover. Then, I realized the reason why The Miniaturist didn’t work for me is that a certain plot turned out random and pointless at the end, but I loved the characters and the writing itself. So I thought, if The Muse avoids this problem, it has the potential to be very good. And it is! In fact, it’s beautiful!

Yes, ye
Will Byrnes
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
As an image it was simple and at the same time not easily decipherable—a girl, holding another girl’s severed head in her hands on one side of the painting, and on the other, a lion, sitting on his haunches, not yet springing for the kill. It had the air of a fable.
I am sure most of you have had the experience of seeing a painting and wondering what was the inspiration for its creation. Or pondered what might lay behind the mystery, of, say an enigmatic painted smile. The Muse take us back t
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
proper review now written, following my long anecdotal tale.

when i was packing up my go-bag to prepare for my recent adventure in back surgery, when there was still a 50/50 chance i would have to stay at least one night in the hospital following the procedure, and remembering the mistakes i made years ago during back surgery #1 when the "you will be staying here for three nights" announcement came as a complete surprise and i told sean of the house to "just grab me a stack from near the bed" and
Angela M
Jun 01, 2016 rated it liked it
So many novelists over these last few years, it seems are telling stories from dual time frames and if done right there can be a meaningful connection between them . I thought the story had so much promise at first. It touched on some topics that would make for interesting discussion - the view of women artists in the 1930's , who and why does the artist, painter or writer, create for - themselves, for outside praise and recognition? We glimpse civil war in Spain and it also touches on racial is ...more
Amalia Gkavea
‘’...and that’s all that matters, isn’t it? What people believe. It doesn’t matter what’s the truth; what people believe becomes the truth.’’

I finally found the time to read Jessie Burton’s sophomore novel and I am very glad to conclude a wonderful reading month with a beautiful work of Fiction. The Miniaturist is among my 10 all-time favourite novels and while The Muse wasn’t as magical and haunting, it was no less exciting and complex.

The novel opens with Odelle, a young woman from Trinida
Andrew Smith
Jul 20, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-finished
I pressed on beyond half-way but then gave up. First DNF in a while. In truth, I thought it was simply dreadful.

I’d read a good deal about Jessie Burton and I know her first book, The Miniaturist, has proved to be something of a literary sensation. This book, her second, sounded interesting too: interlocking stories set in 1930’s Spain and 1960’s London. There’s a mystery concerning a painting too – I liked that, it reminded me of the excellent The Last Painting of Sara de Vos. And I was attra
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
You know when you love a book so much you're ridiculously excited and desperate to read the authors next but also really worried you won't love it as much which makes your tummy go funny... then you read it and kick yourself because it's utterly superb? That's what's happened with The Muse. It's fuzzing brilliant and I was a foolish nervous fool. ...more
Feb 19, 2016 rated it liked it
*3.5 stars*

Having previously read Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist, I was quite excited to pick up a copy of her newest novel, The Muse. I must say that although this one was a decent read, I enjoyed The Miniaturist more. I think what captured me with her earlier novel was the atmosphere and the characters. The mood in The Miniaturist was stifling, but in a way that intrigued me and pulled me into the story. I became attached to the main character there, but less so here. However, the premise of
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

In her follow-up to her acclaimed novel The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton adopts a dual timeline structure, following the lives of two creatively gifted women separated by time and place, but linked by a luminous, long-hidden painting that bodes well to take the art world by storm, and a decades-old mystery about the artist. The Muse (2016) lacks the subtle element of magical realism that lent a mysterious aura to the dollhouse and the titular miniat
Hannah Greendale
When good covers happen to bad books, the end result is something like The Muse. Slogging through this book is as much fun as watching paint dry. Never has a book taken so long to reveal such a predictable plot. The book's weaknesses are many, and examples follow with passages carefully selected to avoid spoilers.

The author explores various vernaculars, but the execution is awkward to read and a painful distraction:

'Ah not readin' at some meet-up, Cynthia,' I said, wrinkling my nose. 'Make no
Melissa (Mel’s Bookshelf)
I must have been living under a rock for the last few years. I had never heard of Jessie Burton or her first, immensely popular novel “The Miniaturist”, before The Muse came into my radar. I don’t tend to read much historical fiction, so perhaps that is why it was lost on me. There has been a lot of hype surrounding this book because of the former, and I got to ignore all of that and come at my review with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective.

The Muse is set in two time frames; In the 1960’s, Odel
Jul 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Paintings. Spain 1936. London 1967. A mystery. Romance. War. Art in life. Family. Friendship. Betrayal. Life in art.

"Art rarely obeys human desire. I expect such a painting left its imprint even when he couldn't see it."

"In the end, a piece of art only succeeds when its creator, . . ., possesses the belief that brings it into being."

I intend to write a more complete review within the next 2 days. I just wanted to say, until then, that I really enjoyed this contemplation on the significance of
Dannii Elle
This was the most astoundingly wonderful read that I was not anticipating and didn't know I needed!

The Muse is split in chronology and perspective, varying between Odelle, a typist for an art gallery in 196o's London, and Olive, the artistic daughter of bourgeois parents holidaying in a 1930's Spain on the brink of Civil War. The pair never meet but their stories are linked through the decades in a way that will only be revealed as this story comes to a close, in an extraordinary and emotional
(3.5) I enjoyed this more than The Miniaturist. One of my chief criticisms of that overhyped novel was that the setting – a few months in Amsterdam – felt claustrophobic. Well, Burton has certainly changed things up: in her new book the action spans 40 years and encompasses London, Trinidad and Spain during its Civil War. Again there’s plenty of melodrama, but I liked the contrast between the two time periods and Odelle’s voice is easy to fall for.

There have been a number of novels recently abou
Amanda Bannister
4.5 ⭐️ Rounding up to 5 - really enjoyed this one - the writing, the characters, the story, and how it made me feel 😊 I will definitely be reading more by Jessie Burton
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary, mystery
For this and more of my reviews, as well as my friend Petrik's reviews, check out my new blog, Novel Notions.

Actual rating: 3.5 stars

Is there anything that holds as much sway over humankind as art?

Whether it takes the form of music or a painting or a sculpture or the written word, nothing speaks to our souls like art. This gives artists a power over their fellow men and women. But no one doubts art so much as its creator, and so an artist’s audience holds within themselves the approval and pra
Helene Jeppesen
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's funny how Jessie Burton is able to write stories that are quite similar, but that are still able to evoke very opposing emotions in me. Some years ago, I read "The Miniaturist" and I wasn't impressed. I still appreciated the story, though, and so I decided to get "The Muse" as well and read it. I'm so happy I did! It turned out that I liked this novel a lot better, and in many ways I read it at just the perfect time of my life.
"The Muse" tells the story of two women: Odelle living in 1960s
I did not care for The Muse very much. Don't get me wrong, the writing was well-crafted, but I just couldn't connect with the story and the characters. When it comes to the plot, you'd think that a mystery involving two generations, lost art, feminist undertones, and Spanish Civil War would create a perfect narrative, but alas it failed to excite me. The characters that were supposed to glue this narrative only dragged it down with their illogical behaviors and shallow exteriors. The two protago ...more
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
I received this arc from Edelweiss and Harper Collins, in exchange for an honest review.

*all these quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof of the book, so they might be subject to change.

"My life was a beanstalk and I was Jack, and the foliage was shooting up and up, abundant, impressive, at such that I could barely cling on. I loved and I lost love; I found new creativity and a sense of belonging. And something deeper happened, something darker, which we have all gone through - and if we ha
Maria Espadinha
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Talent always finds a Way...

Olive Schloss, a young lady with a natural inclination towards painting, feels her talent repressed by a sexist society, in the Spain of thirties.

Odelle Bastien, a young poetess from Trinidad, faces some obstacles triggered by the color of her skin, in the England of sixties.

Talent beats discrimination in a plot of History and Mystery...

This is the first time I read for the author. The book has an attractive cover, but unfortunately the content was underwhelming for my taste. However, art lovers might enjoy it. Despite that I do love art, it still didn't capture my senses. I'll refine this review later and mention the points that I disliked.



Confession; I'm a shallow person who often falls for looks. I bought The Muse merely because of its cover. I eyed this pretty thing and thought "how gorgeous would i
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I generously received a copy of the book from Harper Collins Publishers/Ecco. First, I absolutely loved Burton's debut novel The Miniaturist, so I was skeptical as to how I would like the 2nd novel. The books are totally different in nature. But, honestly, they are both fabulous reads and receive 5 stars from me! So, if you are a reader that loved or hated The Miniaturist, The Muse may be one to take a chance on. Seems like a win/win situation to me. I found with each of these novels, one must ...more
Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)
I really appreciated the subversive take on the idea of a “muse” in here, and the plot and characters were poised for great potential impact. But my overall feeling is one of frustration; Burton hovers over greatness so often and never quite lands.
Katie Lumsden
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
A really interesting, compelling novel. The plotting was great and the characterisation clever, and the historical time period is conjured up wonderfully. There were a couple of little things that bothered me, but overall it was a great read.
“Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.”

----Pablo Picasso

Jessie Burton, an English author, has penned a deeply moving and intoxicating historical fiction novel, The Muse that narrates the story of two women separated by a timeline of almost thirty years, where the one is an aspiring Trinidadian woman who finds work as a typist in art gallery of London whose odd boss encourages and explores her talent in writing stories and one day, a mysterious painting lands up in that gallery
Jul 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners

Description: When on a summer's day in 1967, Odelle Bastien climbs the steps of the Skelton gallery in London to take up a position as typist, she little realises how significantly her life is about to change. For there she meets the glamorous and enigmatic Marjorie Quick, who soon takes Odelle into her confidence and encourages her to pursue her dream of writing. But Odelle senses there is something that Quick is holding back, and when 'Rufina and the
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Muse is a book that could have been written just for me, it's a dual-time story and is set in 1930s Spain and 1960s London, the latter being one of my all time favourite eras for fiction. It's a vast, complex story that spans the decades and the continent and at its heart it has some wonderfully created female characters. It is a total joy to read, snaring the reader from page one as we meet Odelle; a young girl from Trinidad, who arrived in London a few years previously and works as a shop ...more
Jul 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
I liked this a lot -- enough to stay up too late and sneak chapters in between errands. Mostly I appreciate its sense of unrest -- artistic, political, racial, relationship-based. I think Burton writes women well and there was enough mystery in the plot to make me want to keep turning pages.
Gitte - Bookworm's Closet

Odelle Bastien is an intelligent young woman with author ambitions and an interest in art. When she takes a job at an art gallery, she becomes friends with her boss, the mysterious Marjorie Quick, who has a big secret. Odelle becomes entangled in a complicated story about art, gender and deceit. With flashbacks to Spain in 1936, the secret is revealed bit by bit.

From a decade of devouring novels, Olive knew that charming men were deadly. Their story had been played down the centuries, unharm
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I actually haven't read Burton before, although I was aware of the success of her debut, The Miniaturist, and its lovely cover. And so I can't speak to how this hold up as a sophomore effort, but on its own it's a thing of beauty. The sort of novel that really draws the readers in, emotionally devastates them, moves, awes, wows. In short, it's the book that makes you love books and their diverting, engaging and stirring powers. Plot wise, it's a story of two separate, intersected, although you w ...more
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Jessie Burton studied at Oxford University and the Central School of Speech and Drama, where she appeared in productions of The House of Bernarda Alba, Othello, Play and Macbeth. In April 2013 her first novel, The Miniaturist, was sold at an 11-publisher auction at the London Book Fair, and went on to sell in 29 other countries around the world. It was published by Picador in the UK and Holland in ...more

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