this is the second muriel spark book i've read. the first was [b:The Girls of Slender Means|69517|The Girls of Slender Means|Muriel Spark|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348056115s/69517.jpg|976843] and i wasn't sold. i cared so little about any of the brittle bitches she wrote about. i was told by an excellent friend after my initial insouciance that i had chosen the wrong book to start with -- actually what he said was, "Stop asking me for reading suggestions. You'll vaguely recall the author's name and months later pick the wrong book by him/her and then grumble about it. :P" and trusting that it was once again my failing, and not of his wisdom, i thought i'd venture forth and try the most well-known of her novels instead, the one written immediately before the girls of slender means, and see where that got me. and here we are, with a two-star rating, and a book that struck just the same as the first -- except it might have had a bit more wit -- i remember some of sandy's fantasies being wonderfully piquant, and were easily my favourite parts of the novel. i want to be clear that i respect the writing -- in fact, this novel is marvellously constructed in its flashing forward and back through time, always maintaining a taut narrative progression. spark doesn't waste words and she wields them like a rapier. i'm glad i've read her because her aptitude was instructive.
the issue for me seems to be i don't care two jots about anybody muriel spark writes about. the closest i came to being interested was in the friendship between sandy, the nun/narrator of the novel and her friend jenny and then jenny disappears from the action. i am sure people will suggest that it is in the effect of such real characterization that i have founded an antipathy, and that may well be true. but i would argue that except for sandy and miss brodie, and perhaps lloyd, the art instructor who plays such a pivotal role, many of the characters are static stick figures, easily interchangeable -- surely, i thought jenny might well play the same part as rose in this novel? and at this point now, i can barely remember any of the rest of the brodie set, except that they were there to make up the set, one liked this and another liked that, and there was a maligned one who was their scapegoat (a similar pitiable character was also featured in the girls of slender means.) also, i grew tired of reading about sandy's tiny eyes -- must we hammer home ms. brodie's point about her insight? surely her eyes are turned inside out! not much really happens and i don't care enough about the characters to relish the journey. the writing that is this book's might be sharp but her eponymous spark did not turn into the bonfire i had hoped for.
i am trying one last time with spark, because my dear friend initially recommended that i read [b:The Driver's Seat|668282|The Driver's Seat|Muriel Spark|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348828782s/668282.jpg|2776383] before i went off buying books that weren't his suggestion, and i've been told is quite different (hallelujah) and much more of a mystery, so perhaps more up my alley. so i will be back for one last dance, but not any time yet. this card's currently full.