2018 marks the centenary of Muriel Spark’s birth and I have recently read her autobiography ‘Curriculum Vitae’ and one of her most famous novels ‘The Driver’s Seat’ which was first published in 1970. The main protagonist, Lise, is in her mid-thirties and is unhappy with her dead-end job. She hops on a plane to an unnamed southern European city looking for adventure and has a series of odd interactions with even odder people she meets along the way. Spark ingeniously drops a massive spoiler at the beginning of the third chapter in which it is casually stated that Lise “will be found tomorrow morning dead from multiple stab-wounds, her wrists bound with a silk scarf and her ankles bound with a man’s necktie, in the grounds of an empty villa, in a park of the foreign city to which she is travelling on the flight now boarding at Gate 14.” The narrative then continues as if this information had never been mentioned and the mystery of who the perpetrator is and how and why the murder occurs isn’t revealed until the final paragraphs. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Muriel Spark
Apologies for lack of posts this week but at the beginning of the month it was looking as though my blog word count was in danger of overtaking my coursework word count and as much as I like blogging I do kind of need a degree… So this week, in between revising for my first exam on Wednesday, I have read ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ by Muriel Spark – a short, witty novel about betrayal and shattering illusions. Set mostly in Edinburgh in the 1930s, the crème de la crème of the Marcia Blaine School for Girls are taken under the wing of eccentric Scottish schoolmistress Miss Jean Brodie whose influence on her impressionable pupils has huge consequences on all of their lives. The plot is almost as unconventional as the characters and the structural complexity of the novel is extremely subtle making the reader feel almost as manipulated by Miss Brodie’s glamorously eccentric ways as her pupils are. Spark’s method of revealing what happened to each of the Brodie Set before and after the betrayal is also very effective and shuttles backwards and forwards over time effortlessly. Her dry wit is perfectly weaved into her deceptively simple style of writing with its sinister undertones.
Is Miss Jean Brodie truly evil or just an egoist? Either way, she is certainly an immortal creation and the book remains in its prime some five decades after its first publication.