That Difficult Second Book
Quite frankly the only difficult thing about this book is putting it down!! T’is a joyous thing to behold a writer growing into their own skin and finding their voice. If anyone believed that The Miniaturist was a flash in the pan or a one hit wonder, think again. For The Muse is another exhilarating read.
Similar themes occur, some of them paradoxical, the secrecy of art and creativity, the destruction and the preservation of art and creativity, plenty of food for thought. But whereas The Miniaturist remains in one historical period The Muse swing boats us between two different periods and two different locations. And the wonderful Marjorie Quick is the link between those two periods and locations. For me Marjorie Quick is one of those characters who projects such a presence on the page. as a reader you kind of know she is an unusual person and pivotal to the narrative. And we are never told the whole truth abut her but there are enough clues to understand her motivation and her sadness.
There’s plenty going on in the narrative to keep the reader entertained and curious. There are pictures painted (no pun intended) of a time gone by, of different etiquettes and protocols. Atmospheric to the extent that you have to check that you yourself are not soaked from the rain.
It’s a privilege to read a book such as this for it is everything a fiction should be. If there is a down side I think it is that The Miniaturist was so unique the expectation for The Muse might disappoint some readers. But I believe the quality of the writing, the development of the plot and sympathies of the characterisations assure Jessie Burton’s credibility as a modern novelist of some standing.