Jessie’s pays tribute to Leilah

Jessie Burton
Jessie Burton
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A Doncaster bookshop employee has become the star of a best-selling author Jessie Burton’s brand new novel.

Leilah Skelton, who works at the Doncaster Frenchgate Centre’s Waterstone branch, is featured in Burton’s book ‘The Muse’ as a thank you from the author for her work in helping to promote her previous novel.

Burton was so grateful to the former art student - who made creative window displays for her debut novel The Miniaturist, gift-wrapped copies in opulent paper, and even made tiny dolls’ house-scale copies of the book to hand out to customers who purchased a copy - that she named a setting in her new novel after her. Skelton’s finishing touch involved repurposing an old shop display by installing a mechanical motor to create a flying circle for a tiny clay bird that ‘flew’ over the window display, earning praise from Burton on Twitter, who said the bookseller was ‘beyond compare.’

Set in 1967, new book The Muse features Trinidad immigrant Odelle Bastien, who begins a new job as a typist at The Skelton Institute in London under the tutelage of the glamorous and enigmatic Marjorie Quick.

Burton said: “I wanted to say thank you for such a stellar and imaginative effort in her shop hand-selling my first novel.

“It meant a great deal, and when it came to naming a place of artistic endeavour, of generosity of creative spirit, who better to name it after than Leilah Skelton, a person with whom I, as a writer, had developed a personal connection? Plus I really like the name!”

Leilah, aged 34, said: “I feel amazed and humbled and overwhelmed with the honour of being given my own little permanence in the world because of an author’s kindness.”