Book Reviews and Interviews

‘The Muse’ by Jessie Burton

I completed the last page of Jessie Burton’s The Muse last night, which is her second freaking amazing book since The Miniaturist.

The Muse is set in two different time zones one in swinging 60s London with protagonist and writer wannabe Odelle Bastian, and the other at the time of the Spanish civil war with closet painter Olive Schloss. Burton seamlessly connects these two stories together with one sought after piece of art in an unsuspecting, dark and twisted way.

What Burton does is hard, it’s enviable and it’s work; to have these dual carriages moving at the same time, while pinning down their period, pace and character All hail! Because she really does pull the ambitious feat off. I mean I just can’t gush about it enough, only that it’s incredible prose washes over you like an enchanted castle, its unforgiving seductive nature hooks you from the start, and I absolutely couldn’t put it down.

Go buy it you’ll love it, I promise. 

I’ve got a great 5 question interview coming up with the very generous and enigmatic Miranda Emmerson, talking about her new book ‘Miss Treadway and the field of stars’ Can’t wait to share please come back and join me.


Alan Yentob’s interview with Judith Kerr


I went to see an amazing interview with Alan Yentob and Judith Kerr on Friday, set in a beautiful chapel, in Tottenham crt rd. Kerr spoke about everything from her childhood, to her love for drawing and writing children’s books. At 91 years old she emits light and effortless poise as she answers questions, and I felt extremely fortunate to hear her speak. Here are some of the answers she gave Yentob- which are slightly paraphrased as I didn’t have my note book! 



On Judith’s most well known book…

When I wrote ‘The tiger who came to tea’ I wasn’t sure if to put clothes on the Tiger, should I draw it with fingers? There were all these questions!



On words and pictures

If the illustration in a book shows a boy wearing a red top, and yellow trousers let’s say, and you have a child struggling to read ‘Tim-o-thy is we-ar-ing, a red a-and yel-low sh-irt’ etcetera, it’s torturous, because we already know that, why are you making a child struggling to read, read that sort of thing…The picture should say something different.


On drawing…

I used to be quite slow, but I’m getting quicker.


On writing….

Yes…I’ve written at the same desk for over half a century.


On the NEW book….

I’ve just finished writing a chapter book, with about 70-80 drawings…I haven’t written a book like this before.

And we can’t wait to read it!