Book Review || The Muse by Jessie Burton

Book Review - The Muse by Jessie Burton 1

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 Marjorie Quick. But though Quick takes Odelle into her confidence, and unlocks a potential she didn’t know she had, she remains a mystery – no more so than when a lost masterpiece with a secret history is delivered to the gallery.

The truth about the painting lies in 1936 and a large house in rural Spain, where Olive Schloss, the daughter of a renowned art dealer, is harbouring ambitions of her own. Into this fragile paradise come artist and revolutionary Isaac Robles and his half-sister Teresa, who immediately insinuate themselves into the Schloss family, with explosive and devastating consequences . . .

Book Review - The Muse by Jessie Burton 2

I started The Muse with some idea of how it might read, only being the second novel released by Jessie Burton and having previously read her first, The Miniaturist. From the first few chapters alone, I must say I was disappointed. The plot didn’t grab me as I had hoped and if it wasn’t from other readers saying they had felt the same and it is worth carrying on, I might even have put it down (which actually is something I rarely do).

Still, as it was they turned out to be correct and I persevered. I’m glad I did.

The plot follows two story lines in different eras – that of Odelle and Majorie Quick in 1967 London, and Olive Schloss, her family, and their employees during war torn Spain in 1936.

The stories, as I’m sure you inevitably can guess, do twist and wind together right at the end, but not necessarily in a way you’d first expect, and I found both equally gripping. That is, once you’d got the gist of them from the slow start. In essence, Odelle meets a man named Lawrie at a friend’s wedding, who has inherited an odd painting that he feels might be worth something. Working in an art gallery, Odelle helps him piece together the painting’s history. This then transports the reader to the life of the Schloss family in Spain where the father Harold, comes by the very same painting in a messy tangled mix of the life of his glamorous wife, his daughter Olive, her friend and their maid Teresa, and her half brother and political activist Isaac.

Jessie’s descriptive writing is captivating, and I enjoyed the interweaving plots. If it wasn’t for the slow start I’d have rated The Muse higher, especially with such a fantastic cover, but overall this is still very much one to read!

Rating: 7.5/10

Want to find out more about The Muse?   |     Amazon     |     Goodreads     |     Jessie Burton     |



  • I havent read this, or her first one actually (even though Ive heard great things!); I might give it a go though once I’ve finished my current book. Im hoping I can keep at it though, I hate slow starters haha! xx

  • My question is did you enjoy her first book The Minituraist? Because I really didn’t, hence not being drawn at all to read this second one…

    Holly xxx ///

    • Well, I definitely enjoyed this one more. I found The Miniaturist a bit odd and out there, but I’m usually quite easily tainted by reviews, weirdly especially when they’re really positive, I often get disappointed! xxx

      • I’d say it’s a very different book and written differently, with a more captivating plot, so maybe give it a go? xxx

    • I really disliked The Miniaturist. I thought it was hugely overhyped and a bit dull. I enjoyed The Muse more as well! x

  • Amy McInerney

    Got this for my birthday at the start of the year – it is still on my shelf waiting to be read. I LOVE interweaving stories so sounds like I will like this one.

    Am reading ‘The Night Watch’ at the moment which is AWESOME – one of those books that you can’t wait to finish work so you can go home and read it! That also has interweaving characters…Almost like Love Actually meets Great Expectations haha! (something I never thought I’d say).


    • Ooooh so good to know, I’ve read her other book The Paying Guests and really enjoyed that so I might look out for the night watch and add it to my next Amazon order! Any others you’ve read recently that you’d recommend? xxx

  • Did you enjoy The Miniaturist? I liked the style but the storyline left me disappointed when I finished the book. I recently purchased The Muse at my local Oxfam bookshop but haven’t started reading it yet.