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The Lives of the Muses By Francine Prose. Union Books, £10.99


Muses have never had it easy. Stuck between the human and the transcedent for the (usually) male artists they inspire, and the object of intense envy, they cannot be too domestic nor put their own artistic ambitions first (Yoko Ono struggled with this while with John Lennon).

Prose’s narrative gives a richness to the lives of nine complex, often frustrated women including Lee Miller (Man Ray’s lover) Gala Dalí (wife of Salvador) and Alice Liddell (who, aged 11, inspired Lewis Carroll); one omission is Picasso’s muses.