Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Muse

The Muse by Jessie Burton

In the mid 1960s Odelle Bastien, a immigrant from the Caribbean finds a plumb job at the Skelton Institute of Art.  One day, an acquaintance brings in a painting for authentication.  The painting belonged to his mother and never left her bedroom wall.
The painting, it was suspected, was a lost work of Isaac Robles, a gifted but short lived Spanish artist. Odelle is suddenly in the midst of the mystery of Isaac Robles.  She is drawn into the life, too, of Marjorie Quick, the woman who hired her at the Skelton.  Odelle is unprepared for the intrigue that walked in the door with the painting.  There are questions about it’s provenance .   If this is one of Isaac Robles’ paintings it is an important and expensive find.  With it’s discovery and the new relationship she has with its owner, she doesn’t know who to trust. 

The story alternates with the story in Spain during the mid 1930s when  Isaac and his sister,  are in the employ of the Schloss family, including Olive, the daughter of a Viennese art dealer and an English heiress with too much time on her hands.  Olive is an artist with no chance of realizing her dream of attending art school.  Isaac also is a painter but he is also a young man caught up in the revolutionary fervor  in Spain.  His sister, Teresa, becomes a servant in the house and a confidant of Olive.  Between the three of them, their lives tangle in a deception that will reverberate for decades.

I truly could not put this book down until I finished it.  The reviews say it’s complex, and it is, but not in the way that would  make you think it was not approachable.  Complex story telling is a good thing.