Two timelines; a love story; a mysterious painting; a woman with a hidden past... Jessie Burton's The Muse has all the classic markings of a good and engrossing beach read. I'm interning for Marie Claire this summer, for their features team, so I actually ended up reading this thanks to Marie Claire's picks for August reads (see image, below right). The two timelines are: in 1960s London, the protagonist, Odelle has just moved from Trinidad in hopes of becoming a wrier. In 1930s Spain, the credit for a painting is kept hidden.
There were a few things I really enjoyed about the Muse: the pace at which it moved, the historical fiction, the love story. What I disliked is that I felt as though we got to know the 1930s historical context so much more than the 1960s London. Also, because the narrator/protagonist, Odelle, was a black woman who had immigrated from Trinidad and was now working in an art house in London, I wish we got more of her lived experiences. That isn't to say that I didn't thoroughly enjoy this book - I read it in one day, on the commute into & back from work (and was so flustered to get home and finish the last chapter, I left my sunglasses on the train). It's a good (albeit nothing special), intriguing story, centered on the art world. As Marie Claire writes, "love, war, desire, and art--it's all here."