29th June 2016 - Matt Blackstock
Matt B, from our Birmingham shop, tells us why Jessie Burton's The Muse is one of his current favourite books.
London, 1967: the day is hot and Odelle Bastien walks into the Skelton gallery to begin her day at work. Spain, 1936: in a large rural house, Olive Schloss looks at a blank canvas. Both events seem simple and everyday, but neither woman could anticipate the course of events, the spiralling turns both their lives will take that change everything they know forever.
Working in a shoe shop was not Odelle’s dream job; at heart she is a writer. When offered a job at a world class art gallery she jumps at the chance, with the hope that art will provide inspiration. Serving as a typist under the enigmatic Marjorie Quick, Odelle's world begins to change as she makes new friends and colleagues, and it is one of these new acquaintances that shines a light into the past, and onto the young Olive Schloss.
Olive is an artist, but not a soul knows this. She keeps it secret from everyone, but especially her art dealer father. Her mother is equally oblivious, spending her days dreaming and clinging onto the remnants of the life she's lost. It only takes Issac and his sister Teresa to fall into Olive's life to begin a boiling over of secrets, passions and tempers.
Jessie Burton's second novel (her first was the massive international bestseller The Miniaturist) will slowly and surely take you by the hand and lead you on a perfectly paced tale full of mystery, love, art and history. Each character leaps off the page, written beautifully into a living, breathing person that makes it is an absolute pleasure to take this journey with them. You will lose yourself, like I did, in this book. With a depth and spark that just keeps giving, not just reading but re-reading The Muse (I've read it twice!) is a joy unparalleled, giving us more to love and talk about. To read The Muse is to fall in love with the world Jessie Burton has created… the kind of love I want to experience again and again.