In the Spanish countryside in 1936, a young woman paints a masterpiece. Her Jewish, Viennese art dealer father, however, believes that all REAL artists are men.
In 1967 in London, Caribbean emigre Odelle works at the prestigious Skelton Institute of Art, and her boyfriend wants the Skelton to display a painting his mother left him that has been attributed to the brilliant Spanish painter Isaac Robles, whose life is believed to have been cut short by the Spanish Civil War.
With a deft touch, author Jessie Burton keeps us yearning for more of each storyline as the two inch their way toward each other in ways that slowly reveal the truth about a painting, young love, a war-torn country and the desperate conflict between wanting to keep and wanting to reveal secrets. Masterful!
“Love, war, desire, and art—it’s all here.” —Elle
Two Women. Two Eras. One painting that ties them together.
July 1967, Mayfair, London--a painting is left propped on the doorstep of the Skeleton Gallery, discovered by Odelle Bastien, a Caribbean émigré trying to make her way in London. The painting is rumored to be the work of Isaac Robles, whose mysterious death has confounded the art world for decades. The excitement over the painting is only matched by the tension around the conflicting stories of its discovery. Odelle is unsure who or what to believe as she is drawn into a complex web of secrets and deceptions.
Thirty years earlier, Olive Schloss, the daughter of a Viennese Jewish art dealer, follows her parents to a village in southern Spain that is rife with unrest. It is here Olive meets María Teresita, the young housekeeper, and María’s half-brother Isaac Robles, an ambitious painter newly returned from the Barcelona salons. The illegitimate offspring of the local landowner, neither sibling has anything to lose when by exploiting these new guests in their poverty-stricken town. As they insinuate themselves into the family, the consequences are devastating and echo into the decades to come.
In vividly rendered detail, acclaimed author Jessie Burton spins a tale of desire, ambition, and the ways in which the tides of history inevitably shape and define our lives.
Jessie Burton was born in London in 1982. She studied at Oxford University and the Central School of Speech and Drama. The Miniaturist is her first novel.