Let them eat cake

OK, so the title is a bit misleading – but just look at the delicious meringues the book group nibbled as we discussed Muriel Spark last week! The books I pulled from the book box at the end of the day were: The Ballad of Peckham Rye, Loitering with Intent, Aiding and Abetting, The Finishing School and Memento Mori. The Girls of Slender Means has subsequently slid into the TBR pile. I must admit that it has been a bit daunting and I have only read two of them: The Finishing School and Loitering with Intent.
The Finishing School was fun although I found the lead up to some of the events a tad painful – particularly the episode with the electric heater and the bath-tub. However, as a study of jealousy and false motives it was an enjoyable read – aided by being in large print and read at speed. Perhaps I’ll go back to it and read it more carefully. Spark’s musings upon what motivates the writer, or demotivates, are entwined with her usual sharp focus on the vagaries of the human condition. All her people are flawed. One sympathises with some but not all – and a second read is essential to really look under the skin of her creations.
Loitering with Intent was a delightful book, but it raised the question again and again ‘Is this a reliable narrator?’ I kept thinking it would all unravel and Fleur would be exposed as an arch-villain. But no, simpler than that – but nevertheless beautifully timed and crafted. The London of the 1950s with its drabness and penny-pinching economies, shortages and disappointments rang very true to life – which is more than can be said of the Autobiographical Association – except that of course, yes, there have ever been gullible people who can be taken in by sharks like Sir Quentin. A satisfying, if abrupt, denouement added this to my growing pile of ‘must read it again’ Sparks.
But not until I have finished the others – and I’ve only got another two weeks before they are due back at the library!
Any more meringues?


About apthomas

I love books, reading, writing, baking, chocolate, painting, sewing, people and fairtrade - not necessarily in that order. I am a lazy gardener - who loves the garden, and a lazy housewife who likes the place to be warm and welcoming. I live in beautiful Somerset. I am enslaved by Sherpa-the-cat. Saturday mornings find me 'playing shop' in the Honey Pot - a second hand bookshop, run from my garage, where along with the books you'll find fun, friendship and refreshments - all in a good cause.
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2 Responses to Let them eat cake

  1. drharrietd says:

    Loitering with Intent is my favourite Spark, or at least my second favourite after Miss Jean Brodie. I also read The Finishing School and quite enjoyed it though as others have commented, it is perhaps not ‘vintage Spark’. Thanks so much for joining in!

  2. Susan in TX says:

    I have to confess. I didn’t finish Loitering With Intent. 😦 I tried, but reading your take on it, I think it might have been that niggling “Is this a reliable narrator?” that did me in. Not sure. I think the busyness of life at the moment is pushing me into more “comfort” books than ones that require me to think a little bit. Sounds like y’all had a wonderful time reading and sharing, though.

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