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Summary The Muse

The Muse Characters Ë PDF, DOC, TXT, eBook or Kindle ePUB free Ì 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 TrinidGe 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 conseuenc. Final review first posted on Fantasy LiteratureIn 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 miniaturist who furnished it in her debut novel but there are other compelling mysteries and themes that drive the plot of The Muse and knit together its two timelinesIn 1967 London Odelle Bastien an educated Trinidadian immigrant who has lived in England for the past five years is working in a shop selling shoes London hasn’t turned out to be uite the promised land it once seemed to the younger Odelle job opportunities always seem to evaporate when she meets employers face to face Her last shoe sale is to a woman who has no toes on her feet ― a portentous moment that sticks with Odelle and eventually makes its way into a short story that she publishes Odelle is an accomplished poet and author but struggles with her writing and with allowing others to see it She’s delighted to finally get a better job as a typist for an art gallery bringing her closer to the world of art and culture that she loves One night she meets Lawrie Scott who shows her a painting he’s inherited from his mother that he has in the boot trunk of his car When Lawrie tracks down Odelle later at her job he brings the painting into the gallery where it causes a sensationIn 1936 Spain in the impoverished rural village of Arazuelo on the southern coast of Spain Olive Schloss a nineteen year old artist lives in a rented villa with her expatriate parents Her father is a Viennese art dealer who doesn’t believe women can be true artists and is totally unaware of his daughter’s talent Olive hides her artwork along with her invitation to study art at a London art school Either from uncertainty or a feeling that her artistic future lies elsewhere Olive never responds to the art school Her decision to stay is solidified when she meets Isaac Robles an art teacher and revolutionary and his young sister Teresa Olive befriends Teresa and falls in love with Isaac who inspires her to paint greater art than Olive has ever created before Isaac’s minor talent at painting Teresa’s desire to have Olive become known for her art and Olive’s compulsion to keep it secret collide with unexpected conseuences for all three of themBurton chooses two unusual cultures for her settings 1960’s London from the viewpoint of a Caribbean immigrant and pre Civil War Spain in 1936 also seen from an outsider’s point of view Burton’s research is impressive particularly with the Spanish part of the story It adds a lot of color to the story though it does occasionally bog down the pace The Muse touches on social issues in both eras the divisions in Spain that led to the civil war as well as the subtle racism that limits Odelle’s opportunities in London and make her grateful to get a job as a typistThe characters in The Muse are deeply flawed but engaging Odelle’s prickly exterior hides uncertainty about her talent and her place in London society She speaks faultlessly proper English to everyone except her best friend Cynth when she switches to a Trinidadian patois and it’s never clear which Odelle views as the truer reflection of her inner self Odelle is attracted to Lawrie but pushes him away at the same time for reasons that are never entirely clear even to Odelle let alone the reader Olive has similarly troubled personal relationships with her parents and with Isaac who slips into a love affair with her mostly because of the strength of Olive’s infatuation with him a tenuous basis for a relationship that is shaken even further by the deception Olive insists on relating to her artworkLike The Miniaturist The Muse has a work of art as its centerpiece but in this book the relationship of the characters to the painting and to art generally is much the focus of the plot Jessie Burton’s blog talks about her internal struggles with her relationship to her own written art in the aftermath of the unexpected international success of The Miniaturist and The Muse reflects some of those thoughts and concerns The female protagonists both struggle with their creativity each hiding it from public view to one degree or another The painting that the plot revolves around echoes the theme of a woman suffering because of her art Even Odelle’s initial experience with the toeless woman resonates and later resurfaces in literary formBut her presence does seem a macabre end to that chapter of my life Did she see in me a kindred vulnerability Did she and I occupy a space where our only option was to fill the gap with paper The Muse is a little slower paced and may not resonate with all readers but I found it a meaningful story with an appealing cast of characters and intriguing settings that complemented the plot Olive’s artwork is so vividly described that it felt real to me like I was seeing it in my mind’s eye The Muse is similar in structure and feel to a Kate Morton dual timeline mystery like The Forgotten Garden or The Secret Keeper complete with some romance and a twist and will appeal to readers who like that type of a story but it’s ambitious in its concept and scope and doesn’t go for the easy resolution It’s a rewarding read

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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 und. 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 through time to see what fueled the creation of several works of art including the one described aboveWhen Trinidadian Odelle Bastien 26 well educated optimistic a poet meets a man at her best friend’s post wedding party he wants her to look at a painting his mother had left him in her will A few days later he shows up at The Skelton Institute where Odelle is a typist looking to have it evaluated The folks in charge including Marjorie uick an eccentric sort who has taken Odelle under her wing are very interested indeed It may be a long lost masterpiece by Spanish painter Isaac Robles who was killed under mysterious circumstances in the 1930s And the game is on The story alternates between Odelle’s experiences as an immigrant in London trying to make her way in a world where her skin color presents challenges and Spain in 1936 on the brink of Civil War The latter is where most of the action takes placeJessie Burton in the Palace of uintanar in Spain from El Norte de CastillaOlive Schloss 19 recently granted admission to a London art school is in Spain with her parents They are renting a finca in Arazuelo a poor village near the city of Malaga on the southern coast Harold Schloss is an Austrian Jewish art dealer ever on the lookout for new talent Sarah Schloss comes from English money She relies overmuch on self medication and pines for lost youth and a less wandering husband Isaac Robles and his half sister Teresa in the employ of the property’s owner arrive to take on whatever tasks need doing Isaac is a painter and an activist working against the fascists who seek to overthrow the elected government Olive and Teresa become close but is that closeness real or is Teresa reaching across the socioeconomic divide in order to take advantage Olive is very attracted to Isaac The young English woman feels inspired by Spain and paints in secret sharing her work only with Teresa and Isaac Harold has expressed the view that females are incapable of great art so she is reluctant to subject her work to his blindered scrutiny Sarah commissions Isaac to paint a portrait of her and Olive She may have ulterior motives 1936 was a time in Spain when challenges to the elected government were becoming brazen The conflict between the opposing camps in many communities was shifting from loud disagreement to something kinetic The pressures in the political world ramp up in concert with the emotional upheavals in the Schloss household not just as literary window dressing but as a crucial element in the storyAs for the title of the book who or what is the muse It seemed to me that the term is used generically here Yes there are specific characters from whom the creatives draw inspiration but some characters with no apparent artistic gift are moved by other people in the story as well Also among the nine muses of classical mythology there is not a muse for painting which suggests a broader view of the image You have this light and when it switches on I don’t think you even realize what it does There are several pieces of romantic interest here but not at all too much and they are important to the story Burton engages in a fair bit of parallelism Odelle is an immigrant to London Olive is a foreigner in Spain Both are creatives Odelle with writing Olive with painting Both Olive and Odelle hide their work from most people Both find inspiration in a love interest and feel unable to create in the absence of that other Both have their work exposed to the world without their consent Both Odelle and Olive imagine paradise in a place that is anything but Olive sees Spain as Eden ic and uses that in one very lush painting But she does not see the turmoil that underlies the country until it is almost upon her Odelle sees London as a sort of literary nirvana but has had to endure years of racism and limited opportunity She does however experience a Shangri La moment in the lush growth of a London garden Other items to keep an eye out for are characters projecting their expectations good and bad onto others There are several parentchild mentoracolyte connections at play Seeing people or things in terms of fairy tales religious and secular pops up a few times as wellAs with Jessie Burton’s dazzling platinum debut The Miniaturist the heart of the story centers on a work of art and a young woman’s well two women’s relationship to it In her first book that was a particularly lush doll house and the pieces that went in it Here it is a long lost painting As with The Miniaturist her leading ladies are both coming to grips with finding their best selves while trying to find their way in a strange land As with her first novel we are drawn in to the challenges faced by each of her main characters I found Odelle to be the sympathetic of the two a hard working stick to it sort slogging through obstacles Olive has the appeal of energy and vivacious creativity but she behaves in some ways like a child 19 duh uh so we might be a bit less inclined to relate unless of course one is of that demographic On the other hand she is facing true existential crises whereas Odelle is not in any physical danger Another element of the book one that sustains interest as it did with The Miniaturist is an element of mystery What happened to Robles How did the painting find its way into the current owner’s hands What’s the deal with Marjorie uick Is she who Odelle thinks she isKate Atkinson said I think all novels are not only fiction but they are about fiction too The notion certainly applies here The artistic spirit the ability to see to feel and to translate those gifts into art is core to The Muse How are artists of word or image inspired Does a creative person need an external inspiration to bring out what lives within This is not to suggest that this novel is much concerned with navel gazing It is not But consideration of the artistic impulse does flow through the pages There is much to recommend The Muse Not only is the tale of love danger betrayal and revolution in 1936 Spain riveting for the impact on the characters it offers us a time and place look at a nation on the verge of darkness a harbinger of horrors to come Human drama meets historical madness Burton’s portrait of 1967 London was certainly interesting particularly for the challenges faced by non whites and for how people born in less central parts of the British Empire relate to the ueen motherland But Spain is where the real action is here No sopho jinx in her second effort and no understudy role either With The Muse Jessie Burton shows uite decisively that she has arrived as a literary force a star and almost certainly an inspiration for others Publication Date – July 262016Review posted – March 11 2016EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author’s personal Twitter Pinterest and Instagram pagesSome info on muses just for the heck of it Wikipedia The Role of Women in the Art of Ancient GreeceJust in case you missed it in the review itself here is a link to my review of Burton’s first novel The Miniaturist

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The MuseEr the tutelage of the glamorous and enigmatic Marjorie uick But though uick takes Odelle into her confidence and unlocks a potential she didn't know she had she remains a mystery no so than when a lost masterpiece with a secret history is delivered to the galleryThe truth about the painting lies in 1936 and a lar. I pressed on beyond half way but then gave up First DNF in a while In truth I thought it was simply dreadfulI’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 attracted by the fact that the audiobook was to be read by the brilliant actress Cathy Tyson So why didn’t the whole add up to the sum of it’s parts Well I can’t tell you about the whole but I can tell you about the half of it1 It started slowly and never speeded up; there were lots of words but very little action And this in itself wouldn’t have been so bad if the words themselves drew me into a story I felt compelled to listen to They didn’t and I wasn’t 2 The prose was flowery beyond belief This was compounded by the fact that the reader seemed to continually adopt an overwrought style befitting a Shakespearian play The accents also seemed exaggerated to the point of distractionA big disappointment