She was a schoolmistress with a difference. Proud, cultured, romantic, her ideas were progressive, even shocking. And when she decided to transform a group of young girls under her tutelage into the 'creme de la creme' of Marcia Blaine school, no one could have predicted the outcome.
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The brevity of Muriel Spark's novels is equaled only by their brilliance. These four novels, each a miniature masterpiece, illustrate her development over four decades. Despite the seriousness of their themes, all four are fantastic comedies of manners, bristling with wit.
Spark's most celebrated novel, THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE, tells the story of a charismatic schoolteacher's catastrophic effect on her pupils. THE GIRLS OF SLENDER MEANS" is a beautifully drawn portrait of young women living in a hostel in London in the giddy postwar days of 1945. THE DRIVER'S SEAT follows the final haunted hours of a woman descending into madness. And THE ONLY PROBLEM is a witty fable about suffering that brings the Book of Job to bear on contemporary terrorism.
All four novels give evidence of one of the most original and unmistakable voices in contemporary fiction. Characters are vividly etched in a few words; earth-shaking events are lightly touched on. Yet underneath the glittering surface there is an obsessive probing of metaphysical questions: the meaning of good and evil, the need for salvation, the search for significance.
Muriel Spark's many novels include Memento Mori, The Girls of Slender Means, A Far Cry From Kensington, The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie (adapted for film and theatre), Aiding And Abetting and her final novel, The Finishing School. She was elected C. Litt in 1992 and awarded the DBE in 1993. Dame Muriel received many awards, including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the FNAC Prix Etranger, the Saltire Prize, the Ingersoll T. S. Eliot Award and the David Cohen British Literature Prize in recognition of a lifetime's literary achievement. Dame Muriel died in 2006.
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