The Muse review Û 103

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The Muse review Û 103 ↠ 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 thA 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. proper review now written following my long anecdotal talewhen i was packing up my go bag to prepare for my recent adventure in back surgery when there was still a 5050 chance i would have to stay at least one night in the hospital following the procedure and remembering the mistakes i made years ago during back surgery #1 when the you will be staying here for three nights announcement came as a complete surprise and i told sean of the house to just grab me a stack from near the bed and ended up with books i'd already read books from the middle of series i hadn't yet started and books too ponderous for someone on morphine to handle i was determined to only bring foolproof five star fall into 'em books that would make the tedium of bed rest bearablethis was not my first choiceas much as i enjoyed The Miniaturist the synopsis of this one didn't grab me right away caribbean émigré in 1960s london bohemian woman in 1930s spain powerful mystery art world revolutionary fervor civil war it seemed too disparate to be likely to hold my attention through the distractions of pain spasms and medical invasions and immodest hospital gowns and the steady iv drips of painkillers but i tossed it into the bag with the rest of 'em anyway because why not and when my surgery was delayed for FIVE HOURS and i was imprisoned in that chair in an admittedly not terribly immodest hospital gown it was the first book i blindly pulled out of the bag and you know what my interest was held because once i started reading i remembered what made The Miniaturist so good it wasn't that i had any prior interest at all in amsterdam's golden age or sugar plantations or the craft of miniatures as an art movement it's because jessie burton can write it doesn't even really matter what she's writing about it just flows in this effortlessly captivating way that sucks you in even when you might be starving to death and dehydrated from surgery fasting and wishing for the first time ever that someone would just come along and cut you open already for example this from the perspective of odelle bastien aforementioned caribbean émigré The name 'Edmund Reede' for me conjured up a uintessential intimidating Englishness Savile Rowers in Whitehall clubs; eat the steak hunt the fox Three piece suit pomaded hair great uncle Henry's golden watch I would see him round the corridor and he would look surprised every time It was as if I had walked in off the street naked We studied men like him at school protected gentlemen rich gentlemen white gentlemen who picked up pens and wrote the world for the rest of us to readthis is just everything the rhythm of the sentences the vividness of the description her depiction of workplace integration as startled british politeness without rancor that still manages to reference the bitter aftertaste of colonialism's legacy it kills mefull review to come but i wanted to get that out there now for people like me although with better spines hopefully who may not feel drawn to this book by the synopsis alone now you have the synopsis an anecdote and a uote oh and this if it helps okay i suppose i should write a in depth review of the actual book and not just rely on super sexxy hospital gown photos to do all the work for meit's a solid sopho novel from burton and i can't help but interpret this one uote as a sly little wink from her about the anxiety of writing a second novel after a very successful debut “I’ve seen what success does to people Isaac how it separates them from their creative impulse how it paralyses them They can’t make anything that isn’t a horrible replica of what came before because everyone has opinions on who they are and how they should be”but not to worry although it's another historical novel in which art and gender feature prominently this is no 'horrible replica' it has merits all its own it's a bit ambitious in scope than The Miniaturist there are two separate historical narratives woven together detailing the experiences of two women odelle bastien in the 1960s and olive schloss in the 1930s odelle is a talented writer who leaves trinidad and goes to london where she ends up working at an art institute for an enigmatic woman named uick and begins a relationship with a man named lawrie scott olive is living in spain with her parents her father a successful viennese art dealer and her mother a languid emotionally fragile english heiress olive is a very talented painter a fact she has kept from her father who believes that women do not have what it takes to become true artists the two stories are linked by a painting originating in olive's storyline that is brought to the institute that employs odelle but there are other touchpoints both are strong somewhat aloof characters enduring the expectations others impose on them because of their race or gender and the limited opportunities they have to fully blossom both are encouraged or enabled by people who are a little odd themselves and there are additional thematic echoes involving patronage identity the creative process artistic works produced in secretof the two stories i liked odelle's much she's a appealing character and she does indeed have a way with words even the ones she doesn't speak aloud to those who would condescend to her 'I remembera feller saying to me in the shoe shop 'your English is very good' My English I told him English is a West Indian language sir' Your English is not as good as mine I should have saidIt does not have the length and the breadth the meat and the smoke Come at me with my Creole with its Congo and its Spanish and its Hindi French and Ibo English and Bhojpuri Yoruba and Manding'yeah odelle gets all the best linesbut olive's no slouch a fizzing girl with a plaintive open face who paints arresting canvases and allows another to take the credit i didn't always understand the decisions she made but at least she gets to make declarations like It was always easier to admire someone with a talent and pity was the path to indifference and the scene in which that line occurs is probably my favorite in the whole book it's a perfectly rendered revelationdisappointment moment for olive where she realizes that confidence is not an indication of talent and men accustomed to praise and success were maybe strutting a confidence they hadn't actually earned earlier in the book she gets another great long rant which i'm totally gonna uote because it's goldenHer father always said that of course women could pick up a paintbrush and paint but the fact was they didn't make good artists Olive had never uite worked out what the difference wasBut right now in Paris Amrita Sher Gil Meret Oppenheim and Gabriele Münter were all working Olive had even seen their pieces with her own eyes Were they not artists Was the difference between being a workaday painter and being an artist simply other people believing in you or spending twice as much money on your workAs far as Olive saw it this connection of masculinity with creativity had been conjured from the air and been enforced legitimised and monetised by enough people for whom such a state of affairs was convenient men like her father Thus for centuries it had become the status uo The artist as naturally male was such a widely held presupposition that Olive to her shame had come at times to believe in it herself As a nineteen year old girl she was on the underside; the dogged plucky mascot of amateurship I'm not 'good' enough; I don't have the grit the vision the flair the spine the spark odelle has a similar observation listening to the BBC'c Caribbean Voices on the radio as a little girlHere's the mad thing poets from Barbados Trini Jamaica Grenada Antigua any part of the British Caribbean would send their stories all the way to London's Oxford Street in order to hear them read back again in their homes thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean There seemed no local facility to enable these stories to be processed a fact which impressed upon me at a very young age that in order to be a writer I would reuire the motherland's seal of approval the imperial sanction that my words were broadcastable The majority of the work was by men but I would listen enraptured by the words and voices of Una Marson Gladys Lindo Constance Hollar and Cynth would pipe up 'one day you be read out Delly' and her little shining face her bunches she always made me feel like it was true Seven years old and she was the only one who ever told me to keep going By 1960 that programme had stopped and I came to England two years later with no idea what to do with my storiesit's an excellent book clearly very well researched and if the appeal of the storylines is a little unbalanced that's probably just my personal preferences talking it's a little handled and predictable than The Miniaturist but her writing is gorgeous enough that it didn't stop me from loving the guts out of itcome to my blog

summary Þ eBook or Kindle ePUB ✓ Jessie Burton

Ge 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

Jessie Burton ✓ 3 free read

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. ‘’and that’s all that matters isn’t it What people believe It doesn’t matter what’s the truth; what people believe becomes the truth’’ I finally found the time to read Jessie Burton’s sopho novel and I am very glad to conclude a wonderful reading month with a beautiful work of Fiction The Miniaturist is among my 10 all time favourite novels and while The Muse wasn’t as magical and haunting it was no less exciting and complexThe novel opens with Odelle a young woman from Trinidad who tries to find a better life and a chance to follow her love for poetry in London during the swinging ‘60s The narration is often transferred to Spain in the area of Arazuelo during the late ‘30s and the birthplace of an enigmatic painting that finds itself in the gallery where Odelle works Through Olive’s eyes we witness the political and social upheaval in the Iberian Peninsula and a woman’s fight to find a voice and a place of her own in the world of ArtSo the dual timeline trope is present in The Muse and is masterfully executed The sense of time and place is tangible and precise The depiction of London and the beautifully frenetic era of the ‘60s is so vivid you can actually ‘’see’’ the colours of the clothes and the pop art and listen to the songs that marked one of the most fascinating eras in History Through Odelle’s memories of Trinidad the writing acuires a fresh sultry and sad Caribbean aura that is uite uniue and perfectly balanced with the London atmosphere What is interesting is the way Burton manages to create a darker feeling each time the narration moves under the shadow of the Andalusian sun Despite the sunny hills the aroma of the fruit and the luxurious background of Olive’s terribly dysfunctional family the threat of the civil war is present everywhere Hypocrisy is mixed with suspicion and the chances for a woman to be acknowledged for her skills and intelligence and not for her father’s walet are slim Even people who claim to be fighting for euality and act in a completely opposite manner look upon women as feeble creatures who only act on a whim devoid of feelings and thoughts ‘’Women can’t do it you see They haven’t got the vision although last time I checked they had eyes and hands and hearts and souls I’d have lost before I’d even had a chance’’ The lives of Odelle and Olive are interlocked and it is clear that not many things have changed through the years Olive isn’t allowed to pursue her dream and Odelle is considered an Other an exotic bird that only half belongs if at all in her new surroundings Lies and obsession are two major themes in the novel because truth is dangerous It can destroy a life’s work along with Love The men of the story aren’t exactly exemplary creations of their sex they’re unable to love hiding behind the curtain of a utopian society utopian for them and an anarchy for everyone else and the utter motive of personal gain If women are naive enough they fall into the trap and the conseuences are terrible This brings me to my only complaint regarding The Muse Although I try not to compare books written by the same author it is my impression that The Muse lacked the uniue characters of The Miniaturist Odelle and Olive are uite interesting and their voice is clearly heard but they’re not heroines we haven’t seen before I found I anticipated Odelle’s chapters than Olive’s because the latter’s love affair with Isaac was irritating and too melodramatic for my liking Isaac is an utterly loathsome creature in my opinion A brute with brutal ideas a coward who tries to act like a revolutionary but is neck deep in lies deceit and views that serve savagery and anarchy His sister is a much better character uite enigmatic but not enough to attract my interest in the Arazuelo storyline So while London’s narrative was uite exciting the action set in Spain was far less satisfying for meAlthough The Muse isn’t as atmospheric mystical and haunting as The Miniaturist it is an excellent work of Historical Fiction With a number of twists and rich in beautiful imagery and evocative prose it is one reason for me at least to anticipate that Jessie Burton will go on giving us wonderful novels for many years to comeMy reviews can also be found on