The Muse by Jessie Burton
Having been slightly under-whelmed by The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton’s stratospherically successful first novel, I approached her second book a little warily. It tells the story of a picture that was painted during the Spanish civil war and surfaces during the 1960s, bringing a number of unsolved mysteries in its wake. Although there were a couple of unlikely leaps in the plotting, her evocation of both time and place – particularly in the Spanish scenes, was beautifully done and Olive makes a great pre-feminist heroine: a female artist who allows her male muse to take the credit for her work. Burton tackles cultural and political issues with a light but insightful touch and the book is an easy and rewarding read.