Muse by Mary NovikMuse by Mary Novik


byMary Novik

Paperback | August 13, 2013

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Richly engaging historical adventure in the vein of The Winter Palace and The Malice of Fortune.
Muse is the story of the charismatic woman who was the inspiration behind Petrarch's sublime love poetry. Solange Le Blanc begins life in the tempestuous streets of 14th century Avignon, a city of men dominated by the Pope and his palace. When her mother, a harlot, dies in childbirth, Solange is raised by Benedictines who believe she has the gift of clairvoyance. Trained as a scribe, but troubled by disturbing visions and tempted by a more carnal life, she escapes to Avignon, where she becomes entangled in a love triangle with the poet Petrarch, becoming not only his muse but also his lover.
Later, when her gift for prophecy catches the Pope's ear, Solange becomes Pope Clement VI's mistress and confidante in the most celebrated court in Europe. When the plague kills a third of Avignon's population, Solange is accused of sorcery and is forced once again to reinvent herself and fight against a final, mortal conspiracy.
Muse is a sweeping historical epic that magically evokes the Renaissance, capturing a time and place caught between the shadows of the past and the promise of a new cultural awakening.

Mary Novik's debut novel Conceit, about the daughter of the poet John Donne, was hailed as "a magnificent novel of seventeenth-century London" by The Globe and Mail. Chosen as a book of the year by both Quill & Quire and The Globe and Mail, Conceit was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller and won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Canada ...
Title:MuseFormat:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 8.99 × 6.33 × 0.85 inPublished:August 13, 2013Publisher:Doubleday CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:038566821X

ISBN - 13:9780385668217

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from full of history and intrigue A story full of history and intrigue. Interesting, complex characters who experience life in myriad ways. Always in suspense to see what will happen next and ultimately the twists and turns of fortune in the characters' lives. Satisfying ending.
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "The Spell of the Sensuous" If I were to describe Muse in a single sentence, I would say it is about the pleasures of the sensual world, and the importance of choosing those pleasures, dangerous as such a road might be (particularly in an anti-female society like 14th Century Avignon). In this novel, the entire kingdom of sensuality is personified in the gorgeous, wanton figure of Solange Le Blanc, who, after growing up in a Benedictine nunnery, flees to Avignon, where she becomes the lover of both Petrarch (enabling him to write his love sonnets) and of Pope Clement VI. Generous and deeply sexual, Solange is able to transition between these two men (one’s a sex god, the other’s like your aging grandfather) with remarkable sangfroid and ease. And there is something so comforting in this, so real. Solange is a woman of the world, and she takes pleasure where she can get it, drawing political power to herself along the way. How different this is from all the hard bodied sex we encounter in books like Fifty Shades of Grey, or The SECRET. And how much more interesting this is! But the deliciousness of the sensual world also shows up in the details Mary Novik uses to paint her world of 14th Century Avignon. The street scenes, the various guilds at work on the narrow streets, the smells, of baking and sewage. The scenes in the Benedictine scriptorium – where the illuminated manuscripts are created by nuns, and where Solange gets her early training as a scribe, copying Dante’s La Vita Nuova – are among the most fascinating. Novik takes great care to describe the slant of light (or lack of it -- amazing to think how all those illuminated manuscripts were created in dimly lit rooms), the feel of the paintbrushes, the delight in the expensive paints, made from gold or from iris root. It is a tribute to how good these scriptorium scenes are that, for sensual interest, they rivalled the sex scenes with Petrarch. Ultimately this is a novel about female sexuality and power, in a society bent on erasing and sublimating both. There is a wonderful scene, mid book, where all the ‘wanton women’ and harlots of the town are rounded up during a ferocious lightning storm, Solange among them, and sent up to the towers of the many churches to ring the bells, in order to draw the lightning to them, as punishment, and to protect the city. Many are struck dead. But Solange survives, and she goes on to tell her tale – which ultimately is a bell-ringing for the joys of female desire, fully expressed.
Date published: 2013-09-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific Historical Fiction Muse is Mary Novik’s second novel; a story about a young woman named Solange LeBlanc who was born to a harlot in 14th century. She becomes orphaned and sent into a Benedictine convent. There, the nuns believe her to be gifted as a visionary. Her clairvoyant dreams raise her status while also bringing danger from those who are superstitious. After an attack, Solange escapes the confines of religious life, and sets out on her own to make a living copying books with her beautiful penmanship. It is then that she meets Petrarch and becomes the inspiration behind many of his poems. Petrarch, however, is obsessed with his growing fame and leaves her behind with limited funds to pursue his career among the rich and noble. Unmarried and pregnant with Petrarch’s son, Solange gives birth in diminishing circumstances. When Petrarch learns about his son, he kidnaps him, spurning a desperate search by Solange to find him. Muse is an epic story with a powerful, resilient heroine at its centre. The author excels at bringing to life the political and social atmosphere of the times, including those pertaining to the French Pope to whom Solange becomes an advisor. Written with a compelling voice, this is a gripping story of a young woman who rises above the hardships of her time.
Date published: 2013-08-29

Editorial Reviews

“[Muse] is rich and powerful, wiser than it may initially appear, and thought-provoking on a number of levels. Solange herself is a stunning fictional creation, and her story unfolds with the austerity and seeming inevitability of a classical tragedy.”  — The Vancouver Sun“With Muse, Novik has crafted a heroine who pushes against the constraints of her time and station, placing her in a richly imagined world that thrums with life.” —The Globe and Mail“[Novik] masterfully inhabits the world of her characters so that the reader becomes immersed in their world in the most detailed and poetic of ways…. A treat to read and a terrific book for a book club to feast upon.” —Guelph Mercury"Mary Novik brings a literate woman out of the shadows of history. . . . A cross between Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. . . . There is no doubt that the sensational twists and turns of Novik’s plot, the rapid changes of scene, and the piling on of horrors, all combine to give this story a wide appeal.” —BC BookWorld