The Muse in You – Lynn Newman

“Over a period of only a few years, my parents both died of cancer, I had four miscarriages, my husband and I divorced after seven years of marriage, and my dog, Lita, of sixteen years, died too.”

It took me quite a while to get into this book, and while I grew to rather like it almost despite itself, overall that shaky start and general tone still left me just a little ‘hmm’.

What I liked: the holistic, all-life-is-creative approach; the lists of ‘what if’ questions to shake you out of your mindset (e.g. “What if you delighted in the uncertainty?”, “Could you still better yourself without any pressure?”); the honesty and friendliness of the author; the gentle, musing tone (as a memoir).

Not quite so keen on the personal therapy session that a lot of the narrative felt like, especially to begin with, as the author detailed deaths and marriage break ups and failure to have children. Now, this is entirely personal: for some, this raw honesty is going to be a huge selling point. But I felt that it crossed the line just a little – it was a fascinating read as a memoir, but didn’t add to my experience with the book as a self-help, rediscovering my creativity aid, which is more what I was looking for. In fact, picking out the advice from the life stories isn’t always easy, and I was a good chunk of the way through the book before I hit a bit and thought “Finally! A chapter actually on creativity!”

Part-way through I finally realised that this reads a great deal like a Julia Cameron book, e.g. The Artists Way. It’s very readable, flowing very well. I did enjoy it, but almost despite itself as it wasn’t what I was expecting, really. There is a message: creativity is life, and hard times don’t have to stop you, or perhaps even that life is short and full of difficult things so take joy in creating.

NetGalley eARC: 176 pages
First published: 2019
Series: none
Read from 9th July – 27th August 2019

My rating: 7/10

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