The Muse By Jessie Burton | Book Review


“Like most artists, everything I produced was connected to who I was – and so I suffered according to how my work was received. The idea that anyone might be able to detach their personal value from their public output was revolutionary.”

Hello, my bookish friends. I hope you’re doing great. Well, I have this weird habit where I sometimes forget that I have a blog, and book reviews to write, which makes me feel awful about myself. But, I promise that I’m going to dedicate more time to write more posts on my blog. Anyways, since I’m not feeling fine today, because I woke up with a horrible fever, I thought why not write a book review? So, here we are. Today’s book review is about a historical fiction book, which takes place in two different time periods. So, Let’s start!

In 1967, a Trinidadian immigrant woman named Odelle moves to London to pursue her passion for writing. One day, she receives an acceptance letter from The Skelton Institute to work for them as a typist. When she meets her boss, Marjorie Quick, she feels that there’s something charismatic about her. As days go on, Odelle meets a guy named Lawrie in her friend’s party. After that party, they meet a couple of times, until they fall in love with each other. On a cold morning day, Lawrie shows up in The Skelton Institute with a huge painting that his mother left to him when she died. However, The history behind this captivating painting will change Odelle’s life in a way she never thought of.

In 1936, an artist girl named Olive lives with her parents in the south of Spain. She is naturally skillful with painting a breath taking canvases. But, she doesn’t show them to anyone, even her parents. Her father sells paintings for a living, but she knows that her father won’t sell her paintings or value them. Later on, a guy named Isaac comes with his sister Teresa to work for her family, she starts to like him and develop feelings for him, and she befriends his sister. However, when Olive shows Teresa her painting, Teresa does something that will change her life, and Olive’s.

You know that moment when you’re too engrossed in a book, and you lose sense of everything around you, because you’re not in reality anymore! Yeah, this book made feel like that, plus my feelings were all over the place when I finished it. I don’t even know where to begin from. The vividness of the writing style and the detailed descriptions of London and Spain made me feel like I was sitting there. And the true story behind Olive’s painting made my heart ache. I liked when the characters talked about how we see and feel a painting, and how it leaves each one of us wondering differently. There are lots of important themes mentioned in this book. Like, war, immigration, and feminism. Teresa is absolutely my favorite character, because she is so persistent and courageous. I loved that moment when Teresa brought Olive’s painting to the living room instead of Isaac’s painting, she wanted to prove to Olive that her painting was worth it. She told her to go out there, go to art school, and defy society’s rules of whom should be a painter. But Olive ignored her, and she kept hiding behind Isaac’s name, seeking recognition and fame through him. I get why she did it, because women weren’t acknowledged as artists in that period of time. No one ever would buy a painting that was painted by a woman. Isaac was Olive’s inspiration, the one who made her paint non stop. Even when he told her it’s all in your head, you’re already talented. She told him you don’t get it, I need you. I really felt like crying when I read that part! I know the book has two different stories and characters, but Odelle and Olive have so much in common actually. They’re both artists, and afraid to put themselves out there. Because, what if they don’t live up to people’s expectations? What if they don’t live up to their potential and feel stuck forever in self doubt? I think lots of us can relate to that. Which really feels disheartening to hide what you’re great at, just because you’re afraid of what people might think of you. Now let’s talk about Odelle. She’s an ambitious writer, but throughout the book she struggled to believe in herself. But, Marjorie pushed her to publish her essay. I like how at the end, Odelle realized that Lawrie wasn’t good for her, and her career was more important  to her than being in a relationship. This book has strong female characters that went through hardships to show the world their potential, which is something to live up to. It’s definitely one of those books that will leave you with a new perspective on so many things.



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