From the bestselling author of The Miniaturist comes a captivating and brilliantly realized story of two young women—a Caribbean immigrant in 1960s London and a bohemian woman in 1930s Spain—and the powerful mystery that links them together
July 1967, Mayfair, London—a painting left propped on the doorstep of the Skelton Gallery is discovered by Odelle Bastien, a Caribbean immigrant newly employed and in thrall with her enigmatic colleague, Marjorie Quick. The painting is rumoured to be the work of Isaac Robles, whose mysterious death at the burgeoning of his artistic powers has confounded the art world for decades. The excitement over the painting is only matched by the tension caused by the conflicting stories of its discovery. Odelle is unsure whom or what to believe as she finds herself drawn into a complex web of secrets and deceptions.
Thirty years earlier, as Spain is on the brink of civil war, Olive Schloss, the daughter of a Viennese Jewish art dealer, follows her parents to Arazuelo, a village in the south rife with unrest. It is here Olive meets Maria Teresita, the young housekeeper, and Maria’s half-brother Isaac Robles, newly returned from the Paris salons, his head full of revolution and dreams of being a painter as famous as Picasso. Both siblings are the illegitimate offspring of the local landowner and have nothing to lose when it comes to exploiting these new guests in their poverty-stricken town. They insinuate themselves into the family, helping to hide Olive’s own artistic talents while Isaac plays at both painting and revolution. The consequences are devastating and echo into the decades to come.
In vividly rendered detail, acclaimed and bestselling author Jessie Burton spins a tale of desire, ambition and the ways in which the tides of history inevitably shape and define our lives.
Burton's second novel (following The Miniaturist) is a complex, vividly drawn tale centering on a mysterious painting from 1930s Spain brought to a London art institute in 1967. The author brings together two striking story lines one involving Trinidad-born Odelle Bastien, who works in late '60s London at a posh art institute where she becomes the prot g of an eccentric office manager, Marjorie Quick, while adjusting to life in a new country. The other thread centers on Olive Schloss, a young Viennese woman whose family settles in a mansion in Spain in 1936. Olive's aspirations to be a painter are quashed by her father's misogynistic views toward women artists. Her life is overturned by the arrival of Isaac and Theresa Robles, local siblings who come to work at the mansion; he is a passionate revolutionary and artist, and she is a maid, but also a lost teenager looking for connection. The intricate way in which Burton pulls the two plots together is unexpected and impressive, a most original story about creative freedom, finding one's voice, and the quest for artistic redemption.