Burton’s second novel is a beautifully crafted book, inside and out.
So, before I get to waxing lyrical about the prose of Burton’s novel (I loved it but more of that later), let’s take a second to consider the tangible magnificence of this book.
From the dust jacket to the chapter headers, this book is dripping with elegance. I was really bowled over by the sheer artistry of the book – it is an exquisite piece of craftsmanship and one of the best hardbacks I have seen in a long time.
Let’s indulge ourselves in a little book porn. Join me…
The intricate illustrations on the front cover are a gift to the eye, and reveal subtle clues to the plot within. Specific details are glossed with spot UV (the marketer in me is coming out – I’ve used this myself on fancy publications!) so the book twinkles every time you pick it up.
Picador have – thankfully! – brought back the eternally useful, vintage glamour of the ribbon bookmark. Where’s that been? I love those things. And, the pages are lined with a Louboutin-esque rouge hue that just makes you want to dive straight into this glorious text.
Once inside, the artistry continues. Each section header and chapter introduction is marked with a beautifully illustrated icon that entwines dates and visual clues to the upcoming action.
Ah, I just loved this. It made reading the book all the more sumptuous and a true delight to behold. Check out Picador’s blog about how the genius who is Ami Smithson created this piece of literary joy. Bravo, Ami, bravo.
So, what about the actual story, I hear you cry? Well, I’m a tad bias when it comes to Jessie Burton. Her debut novel, The Miniaturist, was the first ever book club book so it holds a soft spot in my heart.
Burton hasn’t let fans of her first book down. Just as she did with The Miniaturist, Burton pulls the reader into the world of The Muse and doesn’t let you go until page 441. She is a master at creating detailed, intricate and completely absorbing worlds.
The book is set between two times and countries – 1930s Spain and 1960s London – and unravels a mystery around a very special painting. It involves narratives about first love, identity, creativity and loyalty – but I won’t say too much more about the plot to avoid spoilers.
What I will say is that Burton has an eloquent and expressive writing style that mirrors the artistic precision of the painter she depicts. The plot is engaging – the movement between timeframes, locations and points of view really keeps the pace steady – and the characters are well-formed and deftly delivered.
If you were a fan of The Miniaturist you will love this. If you haven’t read it, read this anyway, and then read The Miniaturist. If you’re new to Burton, sit back, gaze at this book for at 30 minutes then jump in for a brilliantly dazzling tale.
Jessie Burton is coming to Newcastle in August and I can’t wait to hear more about how she came about this fabulous story.