How The Muse by Jessie Burton Will Satisfy Your Bookgroup

Once I belonged to a book group.  Mostly women, we met every six weeks to discuss the book we democratically agreed upon.  After a decade of participating in this group I learned a few things about book groups:

  1. More people will not have finished the book than have
  2. Division between who  liked it and who didn’t will occur
  3. You will be forced to read books you normally would never pick up
  4. The best discussions come when readers identify with the characters

When I read The Muse I thought, I wish I had a book group for this novel!  Burton writes very compelling characters who are complicated, not always likable, but are driven by passion.  In many of the characters I found I could identify. Who among us has not wanted to belong, fell in love, suffered frustration over the limitations of your gender, was ambitious?  You may walk away from this story with more questions than answers, which is just one reason The Muse will make for a satisfying discussion.

Here are the 7 discussion questions I’d want to chat about over a cup of tea or a glass of wine.

  1. Why do you think Isaac accepted the arrangement with Olive?
  2. Why do you think Burton made Odell Caribbean émigré? How is that important to the story?
  3. The Muse is a story about poverty and privilege.  How do these complicated societal systems play into the narrative?
  4. Talk about the relationships between Olive and Teresa, Marjorie Quick and Odell.  How  were the relationships similar/different? How did these relationship make you feel?
  5. Do you think The Muse is a feminist novel? Why or why not?
  6. Ambition is another important theme in the novel.  How does ambition affect the characters? The story?
  7. The novel is filled with secrets and deceptions, with Odell in the role of detective. Why do you think it was important to Odell to figure this mystery out? Why was she so driven to do so?

If you have read The Muse I’d love to hear your thoughts to the questions above.  Happy reading!