“The Muse” by Jessie Burton Book Review

Title: The Muse

Author: Jessie Burton

Category: Novel

Rating: 3/5

10-Word Summary: Life is an intricate story that we are painting ourselves.

About The Muse

I do not normally read novels since I prefer non-fiction books. However, last month I wanted to find a novel to have a light read option for my vacation. As I was looking around a bookshop, this was one of the book that got my attention. There was something about the colorful cover that made me dream of my upcoming travel to Greece. I read a few words from the first page and I thought that it could be an interesting novel. After reading a few positive reviews of the book, I decided to buy it.

Since I rarely read novels, I am obviously not an expert on reviewing them. But this book was indeed a pleasant surprise and that is why I decided to review it. If you are looking for an intriguing novel, this one may be the right one. Read my opinion on it first. And don’t worry, I’m not going to include any spoilers.

What I like about The Muse

1. Two stories in one

What made The Muse interesting for me was that it included two stories. There are two main female characters who live in different times and places. Odelle Bastien lives in London in 1967 and works at a shoe store, but secretly hopes to become a writer. Olive Schloss lives in a small town in the South of Spain. She lives with her parents and she needs to make a decision that will shape how her life unfolds.

The entire book is a back-and-forth between these two stories. Even though they initially start out as two separate stories, there is a connection between them. Even though the author takes us from one story to the other, I did not find this annoying at all. On the contrary, it made the story much more interesting and unique.

2. It is an intriguing story

The two women and their stories are connected by a painting as is revealed at some point in the beginning. However, the meaning of that painting and why it is relevant for both women is an entire mystery. As I kept reading, I was constantly paying attention to any clues that could clarify this connection. While it was easy for me to make scenarios in my mind, there are some things I did not anticipate. And when the mystery unfolded, I was pleasantly surprised by how it happened.

3. The writing style

To be honest, I really enjoyed the way this novel was written. It was a light read, but also well-written. I liked the way the writer captured the feel of both periods. When talking about places, social norms and art, she used many details, names and concepts that indicate she did research to prepare for this novel. And this definitely added to the authenticity of the story. Actually, the story was so compelling that it got me wondering if it wasn’t true.

One more pleasant surprise was how sometimes the characters would share interesting insights and reflections on themselves and life in general. As I am also a deep thinker, I often resonated with these insights.

What I don’t like about The Muse

1. The darkness of human nature

I will be a honest – I’m a bit of an idealist at heart. And when I read fiction, I usually want to read about a near-perfect world and people who live happy lives. A big part of this book is not about a happy utopic world. On the contrary, some events and characters show how cruel people can be. A part of the story is a bit weirder and darker than I would prefer. It’s definitely nothing like a horror book/movie, but I found it unpleasant and saddening, but maybe that was just how I reacted to it. I do not want to give away anything about the story, but I just hoped it would have a different ending.

The Muse is a compelling, well-written story that is a good option for a vacation or Sunday morning in bed. Even though I would change a few things about it, I still enjoyed it and that means something to me (especially since I don’t really like novels). This one captured my attention and made me curious about how the mystery unfolds and you may be captivated by it too.

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