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Find out what Mumsnetters thought of The Muse by Jessie Burton as a book club read.

(16 Posts)
UrsulaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 31-Jan-17 18:00:39

This is the feedback thread for the winners of The Muse book club bundle from Picador Books but if you've also read the book, please do let us know what you think for a chance to win a £100 Love2Shop voucher.

Winners, we'd love to hear how your book club went! What themes came up? Which characters were talked about most? Were there any disagreements? What was the general consensus about the book? Would you recommend it to other friends/book clubs?

These are just some suggestions but do spill all about any thoughts or discussions that you had.

Winners and readers of The Muse who post their feedback by 7 April 2017 will be entered into a draw to win a £100 Love2Shop voucher.

JennyWreny Tue 31-Jan-17 19:06:36

Very excited that I was one of the winners of this competitions. Looking forward to receiving the books and the wine.

angelnandy28 Tue 31-Jan-17 20:14:40

So exciting. Can't wait for the package to arrive. I so enjoy reading. Been picked for the wholegrain challenge too! Thanks mumsnet. Nice to feel useful grin

joerin Thu 09-Feb-17 13:13:07

Brill, they arrived this morning :0) we look forward to reading and reviewing it :0) thanks for the wine too!!

JennyWreny Wed 15-Mar-17 10:39:14

Thanks so much for the opportunity to read this book with my book club. The majority of us enjoyed it and some are planning to read The Miniaturist soon (some already had).

We followed the reading guide which was included and also is available on the Picador website -

We talked about all of the characters, but mostly Odelle, Quick, Teresa, Olive and Issac.

I’m being careful not to give any spoilers!

We liked the format of having the two stories running side by side like this, some preferred one setting and others preferred the other. I was interested to see whether the two separate stories would fit together at the end and how that would work and I enjoyed the way this happened.

Some themes that came up were, female friendships, how affected we are by works of art and secrets/secrecy. We had some very interesting discussion and the list of questions that was provided really helped with this.

One question (which wasn’t on the list but someone was wondering) was who or what was “The Muse”? We spent ages discussing this point and actually in the end had about three different views.

I would definitely recommend it to other book clubs and I’ve already recommended it to a couple of friends and my mum!!!

Thanks for the wine too - very enjoyable!

rosey99 Wed 15-Mar-17 20:57:30

I was over the moon to be a winner. The book was eagerly read by my writers group. We held 3 mornings debating the good and bad points to the storyline. We found the enclosed list of questions to ask very helpful and it gave us all a deeper experience to reading the book.

We had a discussion regarding who or what is 'the muse' just like Jenny Wreny above. It was a very enjoyable book to read and I would recommend it to anyone.

On a final note due to all the cutbacks to local libraries we all decided to donate our copies of the book to our local library so others can continue to enjoy reading this for many years to come.

Thank you also for the wine which went down nicely with some cheesy crackers, cheese and chutney. Thank you Mumsnet

jdore1964 Fri 17-Mar-17 14:49:16

Finally finished the book today, only started it Wednesday, but couldn't put it down!! It was a really great read. The characters were strong, the story was thrilling, the way the author moved from present to past to present was not off putting at all, (some books lose you along the way), but this story just made sense, you wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next! The Women issues in the story are quite relevant even today. All in all it was good. Will be looking out now for Jessie Burtons last novel for sure.

agreaves Thu 23-Mar-17 11:04:53

I was really looking forward to receiving the book and as I hoped it was a great read and hard to put down. It had a really novel idea of the two stories running side by side, which was really intriguing. I would recommend The Muse to anyone looking for a really interesting read.

NickJaneDoc Thu 23-Mar-17 11:21:45

I was so pleased to be picked! I read the book on a flight and I really enjoyed the story! The characters where strong and i wanted to know more and more about them! I had a little book group with my mum and my sisters! Over more wine and nibbles the concensus was that we all enjoyed the storyline especially that there was 2 plots to get into! Thanks again !!

joerin Thu 30-Mar-17 13:53:22

Thanks, I passed the other copies to my mum and her friend and 2 of my friends, unfortunately I couldn't get into the book, I read a few chapters, but it just wasnt my thing, my mum and her friend said they enjoyed it though.

KandSWh Sun 02-Apr-17 08:20:34

We've loved this book - from the cover, to the characters to the overall plot! It was a little different to what we'd usually go for, but it was enjoyed by all. The two storylines running in parallel was a bit of a mind-twister at the beginning, but you soon get over it when you get into the stories.

Guided by the included questions ( we discussed a range of themes and reflected upon our own 'muses' which provided some VERY insightful comments and opinions, let me tell you!!!

Thank you SO much Mumsnet!!

Fegraham1 Thu 06-Apr-17 22:37:24

I absolutely loved this book! It was so beautifully written and so prevalent and honest with it's social commentary which flitted between two different time frames but resonated just as powerfully with the modern reader.
For our initial responses we discussed the enjoyment we had from the dual narrative, the relatable characters and the writing which seamlessly drifted from haunting descriptions to heart-stopping observations on life and love and society.
Our in-depth discussion was prompted by one quotation in particular which I had written down as it had inspired me: "Her curls were matted to her head; her powder had washed off her face, I could see the true flesh of her skin - and strangely, without make-up, it looked more like a mask." We discussed how each character is on a journey to form an identity of their own but each is still held back by performing a role that has been moulded and formed for them throughout their life by outside influences - family, race, society, gender, class. Odelle especially seems to stop herself from doing or saying certain things that she wants to because it is not what is expected of her or not the 'type' of person she is. The subtle motif of make-up being used as a mask or an extension of a self that is not your true self is beautiful and honest. It is mentioned how there has traditionally been a lack of appropriate make-up for darker skin tones and when it is available it is limited and/or gaudy - yet another representation of a sense of identity being thrust upon someone by outside influences. My book group drew comparisons with other writers such as Charlotte Bronte, Virginia Woolf, Nella Larsen, Zoe Wicomb, Zadie Smith and, especially, to Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche (who is perhaps the most celebrated current writer in our group). I was most pleasantly surprised by this book; I had read 'The Miniaturist' and although I enjoyed it, it wasn't a book that I was recommending quite so fervently as this one. To put it simply - it was captivating and beautifully written. You must read it.

Celama Fri 07-Apr-17 15:49:42

I'm afraid that I was one of the hold ups for this thread but it was certainly worth the wait. As a group, we haven't had a chance to discuss it yet but once we have, I will update here.

I've personally found the book beautifully crafted and I've cared about all the characters which is unusual for me. I've enjoyed the differing perceptions of the same event and wanted to know how the story was going to develope from the very start. The cover design was captivating and this alone would have encouraged me to pick up the book to examine further. I will definitely go on to read The Miniaturist as I've heard lots of good things already and will certainly be recommending The Muse.

I had some spare copies which have been left at local book borrowing facilities so others can enjoy this novel as well; I would also like to say thanks for the wine which is on hold until we meet but I know will be appreciated. Hopefully I'll manage to give a full review in the next couple of weeks.

Clawdy Fri 07-Apr-17 19:07:45

I'm afraid I didn't enjoy it. I found the Spain storyline rather boring. I liked Odelle, but found her two voices irritating - she would speak in a strong Caribbean accent on one page, then switch to received pronunciation on the next. Not realistic. None of it rang true for me. And why was Marjorie Quick referred to as "Quick" all the way through the novel even by people who were quite close to her?

angelnandy28 Sat 08-Apr-17 21:41:17

Sorry for the late response. Not been well for the past few weeks and actually thought it was the 7th today. Oops. Thought it would be impolite to not leave any reply. I attempted to start the book several times but unfortunately I just couldn't get into it, despite the very enticing cover design. Whether this was due to my being unwell or just not my sort of thing, I'm not sure. I will give it another go when I am feeling back to normal. I apologise I was unable to have a group discussion as yet, hopefully in the near future. If not, I will be sure to donate the copies of the book to my local hospital. Thankyou for the wine too! Not felt up to drinking it as yet but I'm sure I will one day. Thanks again for the opportunity.

UrsulaMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 19-Apr-17 10:24:59

Thanks everyone for reading, sharing and leaving feedback about The Muse.

The lucky winner of the prize draw to win the Love2Shop was rosey99! Congratulations!

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