"How wonderful to be an artist and a woman in the twentieth century," Fleur Talbot rejoices. Loitering about London in 1949, with intent to gather material for her writing, Fleur finds a job "on the grubby edge of the literary world," as secretary to the odd Autobiographical Association. Are they a group of mad egomaniacs, hilariously writing their memoirs in advance--or poor fools ensnared by a blackmailer? Rich material, in any case. But when its pompous director, Sir Quentin, steals the manuscript of Fleur's new novel, fiction begins to appropriate life. The association's members begin to act out scenes exactly as Fleur herself had already written them in her missing manuscript. And as they meet darkly funny, pre-visioned fates, where does art start or reality end? This novel is Muriel Spark in prime form, one of her most enjoyable, complex, and instructive jeux d'esprit.
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Muriel Spark (1918-2006) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. She was the author of over twenty novels, including The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, as well as critical biographies, radio plays, children's books, poetry, and short-story collections. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1993 and a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres in 1996.From AudioFile:
Heroine Fleur Talbot loiters at what Spark calls the "grubby edges of the literary world," gathering material for her novel while working for the mysterious Autobiographical Association. Spark's involved plots, unhurried pace, and willingness to poke at the intricate eccentricities of human behavior are well served by Nadia May's reading. May easily manages the story's complex, numerous strands: Fleur's frequent discussion of the writing process, art's mirroring of life, and the book's many characters. It's a credit to May that we can keep track of the wealth of personality and detail Spark offers; May's throaty narration is particularly well suited to portrayals of the story's many elderly characters, especially the wonderfully eccentric Lady Edwina. J.C.G. © AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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