- The Muse
- by Jessie Burton
- Narrated by Cathy Tyson
- I really enjoyed the first part of the story as we follow a young black woman in London making professional progress and some intriguing discovery at the art gallery where she works; all the while falling for a white man who has a painting of interest and a fascinating personal story with a mystery.
The sense of time and the portrayal of racial relations were remarkably well set up while fitfully only serving as background to the mystery plot.The other part of the story is set in the 1930s in Spain, linked to the present by this special painting. I probably have read / listened to too many stories with a ‘clever’ narrative that switches back and forth between timelines and separate strands of the story, and found myself mildly bored and annoyed with this. I wonder if the story, if told in a simple chronological order, would appeal as much or needs this inversion to create suspense. One of the reasons I’m not a Harry Potter fan is the – to me – excesive use of cliffhangers and above technique, but I appreciate that this is a legitimate technique that others enjoy very much.
Anyway, those apprehensions aside, the historical aspect of the Spanish Civil War and the insights into the art world were astonishing and very rewarding to be part of. Interpretations of art work and the socio-cultural aspects of the novel kept me going. As the novel progressed and you;re meant to get into the characters deeper and get more involved, I found that I didn’t care for the characters in the 1930s as much, to be honest, and longed for the part in the present where I rooted for our black heroine and her quest for the truth.
The mystery aspect itself was not as exciting as I had hoped it would be, but, it was a still a very gripping and fascinating read and an entertaining one.
Definitely worth reading.