Sorry folks – we had a lovely literary lunch yesterday but I quite forgot to take out the camera! You will just have to imagine a happy group of (mostly) ladies supping soup and chatting about the Sparks in their reading lives (SIAB & OV were there too, and Sherpa put in a brief appearance but, having failed to read any of the books herself, wandered through the room and took herself off to hunt mice.)
Simon came to see us yesterday – which was a surprise treat for the book groups as he provided an excellent source of information and ‘texture’ which really enhanced our discussions… plural because, being of butterfly-brain-nature, we were inclined to drift off the subject from time to time!
Now, SIAB has ‘suggested’ that I write a post on my Muriel Spark reads – so I had better get on with it or he’ll nag me for the rest of the day!
Being in charge of the lending library book box, I was in the position of encouraging 2 book groups to dip in and choose one or two books each – 5 weeks ago. I returned home at the end of that afternoon and peeped in the box to see what was left: The Abbess of Crewe, Symposium, & Reality and Dreams. This is how my MS choices were made and I read them in that order.
I echo the words of many others when I say that the Abbess was weird. ‘Is this’, I thought, ‘what Muriel is like? I do not remember anything quite so odd being attached to her name.’ [Time for confession… yep, never actually read her before… saw the film!]
I laid the book down and then picked up Symposium – read in the midnight hours as I lay sleepless after some medical treatment. This I could ‘get into’ – I loved it. I thought the whole structure of the book worked brilliantly, the characterisation was enticing, leading me into the inner world of the dinner party guests, rather than remaining outside their door. I recognised that world of aspiration (I want to be part of that crowd, I want to ‘arrive’, I want to be on the inside… could it be ‘growing up’ and discovering oneself through the mirror of others?) Then the plot unfolded and wasn’t it delicious? Oh, I do love it when people get their comeuppance – and, in a way, I think they all did – even the ones who seemed to slide away and dodge the issue. Wonderful – a thoroughly enjoyable read.
So then I returned to the Abbess. There had to be more there than I had recognised. Google came to the rescue – I had not registered that the book was based on the Watergate scandal. Ah! Much clearer. I have not yet had time to do so, but will go back and re-read it more carefully – hopefully picking up the subtleties missed on a first – and I admit – fast read.
OK. Ready, steady, go! Reality and Dreams. Another wonderful read… except that for some reason I kept expecting to be in the USA (perhaps because it had not long ago read a book set near the ‘film factory’ area of the US). This confusion apart, I found it compelling reading… the sense of ‘calamity and the crane’ loomed over the whole book for me – it was just a case of who and when and why… not how! Another catalogue of flawed individuals – but strangely engaging.
I was hooked on Spark!
The book clubs met a ten days ago and reshuffled their books. Once again I peered into the box on my return home and lifted out the remaining ‘spoils’….. but for them you must wait another day 😉