Talking About ‘The Muse’ with Bibliobeth!

The Muse

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

The Miniaturist 

Synopsis:

A picture hides a thousand words . . .

On a hot July day in 1967, Odelle Bastien climbs the stone steps of the Skelton gallery in London, knowing that her life is about to change forever. Having struggled to find her place in the city since she arrived from Trinidad five years ago, she has been offered a job as a typist under the tutelage of the glamorous and enigmatic Marjorie Quick. But though Quick takes Odelle into her confidence, and unlocks a potential she didn’t know she had, she remains a mystery – no more so than when a lost masterpiece with a secret history is delivered to the gallery.

The truth about the painting lies in 1936 and a large house in rural Spain, where Olive Schloss, the daughter of a renowned art dealer, is harbouring ambitions of her own. Into this fragile paradise come artist and revolutionary Isaac Robles and his half-sister Teresa, who immediately insinuate themselves into the Schloss family, with explosive and devastating consequences . . .

CHRISSI: How does The Muse compare to The Miniaturist?

BETH: The Muse is Jessie Burton’s second novel after the roaring success of her debut, The Miniaturist which I thought was great but I actually enjoyed this one more. Physically speaking, they are both beautiful specimens with some gorgeous art but more specifically, they are both works of historical fiction that tell their stories from the perspective of strong women. In The Muse, we actually follow the stories of two women in different countries and time periods but who are strikingly similar in some aspects. There is a link between both stories which is brought together towards the end of the novel but part of the fun of this book is watching it all being brought together.

BETH: There are a number of supporting characters in this novel. Which one was your favourite and why?

CHRISSI: Ooh interesting question. I think my favourite character would have to be Cynth. I really liked their friendship and thought it came across really well in the beginning. It is their friendship that immediately hooked me in the story. I wish we would’ve seen more from her!

CHRISSI: The story is split between London in 1967 and Spain in 1936 – what parallels do you see between the two stories?

BETH: There are a lot of parallels between the two, one being as I mentioned above is the similarity between Odelle and Olive’s strength of characters. Both stories also feature a love interest that at some point in both narratives causes the women some concern for different reasons. Odelle and Olive are also both artists – Olive in the literal sense of the word is a very talented painter and Odelle is a writer. In both narratives they struggle with their art, being in both the thirties and sixties as something not many women did.

BETH: Discuss the character of Marjorie Quick and her relationship with Odelle.

CHRISSI: Marjorie Quick is an incredibly interesting character. I found her really intriguing right from the start. I think she saw something in Odelle right from the start which was really intriguing. Majorie really was an no nonsense character. She seemed incredibly protective over Odelle and I wondered why she was so keen to stifle the interest in the painting. She also seemed cautious over Odelle’s relationship. I found her to be an incredibly complex character and their relationship too seemed complex!

CHRISSI: Jessie Burton evokes two very different settings in London and Spain – how does she create the sense of place and time for both these storylines?

BETH: First of all, I loved that we got two such colourful stories with a multitude of intriguing and diverse characters. The author evokes the sense of London perfectly, from the fashions that were worn to places that were mentioned. It was quite a contrast between sections to be transported from a cold, dreary London to a hot, tempestuous Spain but the author’s use of descriptive prose meant that each setting was available in glorious and vivid detail.

BETH: Did you find any parts of this book difficult to read and why?

CHRISSI: If I’m honest, as I got further into this book I began to lose interest in it. I find Jessie Burton’s writing to be quite flowery and sometimes that doesn’t capture my imagination as much as I want it to. Don’t get me wrong, she is a brilliant writer, she’s just not my cup of tea.

CHRISSI: What was your favourite part of this book?

BETH: That’s such a hard question as I really loved every single minute from start to finish. There wasn’t even a narrative that I preferred, both were perfect and equally fantastic. If I had to choose though it would be a certain scene in Spain when a certain shocking event occurs that I was NOT expecting. (no spoilers!)

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I don’t think so. A great writer- sure, but not one that I’ve connected with during both of her books.

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Without a doubt!

CHRISSI: Yes!

This Week In Books #48

I am joining in with the lovely Lipsy from Lipsy’s Lost and Found’s feature which highlights our week in books. I shall be sharing what I’m reading now, then and next! I won’t be showcasing my new books as I do that on a Saturday. I’m really excited by this feature as I loved sharing my recent reads. My book reviews published on my blog are often WAY behind what I’m actually reading, so this is a good feature to keep you up to date!

Click on the book to get to Goodreads!

The Muse The One Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)

NOW- The Muse- Jessie Burton- I am currently 80% through this book which is the next in the ‘Talking About’ feature that I do with my sister Beth. I’m hoping to finish it tonight or tomorrow. I’m enjoying it so far, but I wouldn’t say it’s a favourite of mine.

THEN- The One- John Marrs- I was confused at first with this psychological thriller which is all about being romantically matched with someone due to DNA. It’s not the best book in the genre, but I found it intriguing to read despite a slow start.

NEXT- Illuminae- Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff- I’m scared. This book has been SO hyped and I’m worried that I won’t enjoy it. It’s time though… it needs to be read.

What are you reading at the moment? Feel free to let me know or leave a link to a similar post that you do!

Talking About ‘The Miniaturist’ with Bibliobeth

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How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office-leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist-an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand-and fear-the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

CHRISSI: Did this book draw you in from the start, or did you take a while to get into it?

BETH: From the first page, I could tell that this was going to be a good book, the writing is absolutely beautiful, but it did take a while before I was fully immersed in the story. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it from the start, but that it was a bit of a “grower,” before I really appreciated what the author was trying to do.

BETH: Describe the relationship between Johannes and Nella and how it develops through the novel.

CHRISSI: I was very intrigued by the relationship between Johannes and Nella. Nella obviously struggles with the lack of attention Johannes pays her at the start. She expected to have an attentive husband and that is not what she got! I don’t think Nella ever anticipates the twist (won’t spoil) to the relationship. Their relationship becomes incredibly dramatic as time goes on and secrets are revealed. I thought Nella came across as incredibly mature, despite her young age.

CHRISSI: Nella starts this novel young and new in unfamiliar surroundings. How does her character grow and develop throughout the novel?

BETH: Nella is only eighteen when she comes to live with her new husband in Amsterdam and hasn’t really had much life experience so is quite naive and gullible when it comes to certain things. She learns pretty early on through her relationship with Johannes and his sister Marin that if she wants to survive she must develop a thicker skin. Several incidents in the novel certainly give her the chance to do that!

BETH: Did you like the character of Johannes? Was he believable?

CHRISSI: To be honest, I didn’t really have a strong opinion of Johannes. He irritated me at times and I never really come to like him despite the fact that he had a horrible turn of fate! I didn’t find him overly believable as a character, but that could be down to my lack of connection with him.

CHRISSI: The replica house that Johannes gives to Nella is the key that the plot revolves around. What do you feel that the cabinet symbolises?

BETH: The miniature house that Johannes gives to Nella as a wedding gift represents their own home and Johannes encourages Nella to decorate it with bits and bobs as she sees fit. At first, Nella is outraged, seeing it as little more than a play-thing for a child and sends off for pieces that may be seen as a bit controversial, like a miniature lute that Marin has banned her from playing. When the miniaturist who makes these pieces starts sending her other things, especially things she hasn’t requested things start becoming a bit eerie as it is if the maker has predicted the future for the occupants of the house. I think for me the cabinet symbolises the fact that you cannot make a completely accurate likeness of anything – people, life and chance are always going to surprise you.

BETH: What did you think of the relationship between Marin and Nella?

CHRISSI: I think it was incredibly intriguing. I wasn’t sure how it was going to develop. Marin is so mysterious but so cold towards Nella at the beginning and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen or what secrets Marin was hiding. I enjoyed reading about their relationship even if it was a difficult, complex relationship.

CHRISSI: Was there a character that intrigued you? Why?

BETH: There were some great characters in this novel and quite a few that intrigued me but I’ll pick Marin. Marin is Johannes sister who has never married and before Johannes married Nella she was mistress of the household. Therefore it probably wasn’t easy for her to give way to a new mistress especially one a fair bit younger than she was. I started the novel determined to hate her for the cold way that she treated Nella but in the end she surprised me and reminded me that people are not always what they seem.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I want to say a tentative yes. I thought the writing was good, but I wasn’t blown away by the story. I think I was expecting more about The Miniaturist and I found it to be rather lacking in that area!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!
CHRISSI: Yes!

What I’m Reading Wednesday- The one where I’m joined by Alex Bell

Today, I am joined by the lovely Alex Bell, author of The Ninth Circle, Jasmyn, Lex Trent Versus The Gods and Lex Trent: Fighting With Fire. Alex’s most recent release (which is available on Amazon) is:

Frozen Charlotte

To read my review, please click on the book image!

Red Eye is the killer new YA series from Stripes Publishing. It is described as a fusion of pop culture, violence and technology, giving horror a contemporary feel.

Many thanks to Alex for answering the WWW Wednesday questions with me!

Alex Bell pic small

Click on the book cover to get to the Goodreads page for the book.

What are you currently reading?

Butter  18047651

ALEX: Butter by Erin Lange – I’m only a few chapters in but I’m really enjoying this book so far.

CHRISSI: I’m reading The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton for part of my ‘Talking About’ feature with Beth. I’m about 150 pages through so far and it’s been a bit slow, but it’s intriguing.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Zig Zag Girl Keep Quiet

ALEX: The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths – I don’t read all that many crime books but I loved the premise for this one – 1950s post-war Brighton plus stage magicians and murder. Highly recommended.

CHRISSI: I recently finished Lisa Scottoline’s Keep Quiet. Hmmm… I have very mixed feelings about this book. I shall try and write a review for it soon. I thought it was incredibly melodramatic.

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy, #1)  There Will Be Lies

ALEX: Next on my enormous pile is The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg – this looks magical and unlike anything I’ve read before.  (Chrissi: Ooh, I want to read this Alex!)

CHRISSI: Next up for me is There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake. I picked up this book a while ago and I’m only just getting around to it! Oops. It looks like it’ll be an interesting, hopefully thrilling read!

*The Red Eye Blog Tour will visit Bookaholic Confessions tomorrow*

What are you reading this week? Please feel free to answer the questions yourself! Happy Reading!

Stacking The Shelves #100

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared!

As ever, click on the book Image to get to the Goodreads page!

Bought for my Kindle:

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I’ve heard mixed things about this book, but I do want to try it for myself!

Bought:

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My copy of Gracefully Grayson finally arrived! I was meant to read this book a while back, but I’m going to prioritise it now! I also purchased a copy of The Miniaturist which I’m reading very soon. I will be ‘Talking About’ this book with Bibliobeth later this month.

What have you added to your shelves this week?  Feel free to leave a link to your haul and I shall stop by at some point this weekend!