Muse, a sixteen-year-old American slave, driven by a secret that nurtures her spirit but binds her to a crippling silence, is petrified when told she must travel with her owners to Europe, yet the journey sweeps her from the rocky dirt roads of a Virginia plantation to the crafted, elegant cobblestone avenues of Paris. Even though she is a captive, the subtle cultural and fashion-conscious powers of the city force open an unyielding new sense of self-determination and a vision of how life could be. In 1855, she orchestrates her escape. Living on the fringes of the city, she carves out a modest existence as a seamstress until she learns a French bounty hunter is in pursuit. The fear of recapture propels her to alternative means of self-protection. When the day of reckoning arrives, and it does, she battles for her right to freedom. Will she kill for it . . . or die trying?



The Awakening of La Muse

by S. R. Strickland

Book Review by Barbara Bamberger Scott

“The sounds of a vivacious city sang out to her, the tunes of a town still unseen.”



The Awakening of La Muse by S. R. Strickland

Reviewed by Susie Pruetta

“This is a great read with insights into the heart of a young woman born into slavery who has no concept of what it feels to be free until she is introduced to the wider world.”


♦♦♦♦ – 4 STARS

Reviewed by Daniel Casey

“The genre of historical fiction is loaded with imaginings and retellings of European aristocrats, American heroes during wars for freedom, and the ever present obsession with mid-20th century war. Therefore, finding a well-crafted, well research novel telling a story outside these tired and ultimately futile tropes is both a challenge and, when found, a boon…”


Cheryl Finley

Reviewed in the United States on April 30, 2020

This is a compelling story told in short chapters that make it very easy to read and very hard to put down.
The story takes us from a southern plantation to Paris in the 1850’s during the time when the city is being rebuilt by Haussmann. We watch Muse discovering herself as she discovers Paris and she is transformed from a timid house servant to a sophisticated young woman capable of thriving independently in bustling Paris.
I read this book first in 2018 when my theater group did a staged dramatic reading of it. The audience loved seeing and hearing it and the actors loved reading and performing the story. This is a book so vividly written that it could easily be turned into a movie. In April 2020 I read the book again for my book club of 20 very hard to please readers. Every one of the members loved the book which is very unusual. I highly recommend La Muse and promise that you will not be disappointed.