Book Review

The Muse

Author: Jessie Burton
Published: 2016, Ecco
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: Dual Timeline, 1967 London/1936 Spain


Odelle Bastien, a native Trinidadian, has toiled in London for five years, her dream of a better life slowly slipping away. When she takes a job as typist at an art gallery, her enigmatic boss, Marjorie Quick, and the appearance of a mysterious Spanish masterpiece change her life in more ways than she could ever imagine.




I was drawn into the plot of The Muse right away.

Odelle is interesting, one, because she is navigating London as an immigrant, and two, because she becomes involved in an interracial relationship at a time when such a thing was shocking.

The characters in the Spanish timeline are not quite as deep, but I don’t think it hurts the narrative too much. A few of the plot points are rather melodramatic, but this was not enough to drop the rating and is overridden by Burton’s style, which I enjoyed.

Tension is maintained and heightened as the storyline shifts from the 60’s to the 30’s and back again; as it does so, the reader begins to see the connection and the intricacy of the two.  

While I felt the ending was a bit weak, everything was resolved satisfactorily. Burton’s writing is lush, somewhat reminiscent of Steinbeck for me, and her attention to historical detail commendable.

I recommend this book, and even more so her 2014 debut novel, The Miniaturist.


Rating: 4/5


What did you think of The Muse?

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14 thoughts on “The Muse

  1. Great review, I heard some great things about this book. I am not a huge fan of historical fiction books if there is no romance in it, but I am really intrigued by the concept of this book. I might need to check this one out one day, thank you so much for sharing your awesome post.

    1. Thanks, Katiria! There is a romance subplot in both timelines, but there wasn’t enough depth to them for me to mention in the review. 🙂

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