heaven_ali (heaven_ali) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

#45 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark (1961)

I read this for the Muriel Spark reading week which I was alerted to by stuck-in-a-book’s blog. I hadn’t read any Muriel Spark before and didn’t really know what to expect, although I did see the film many years ago.

'Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life

Miss Jean Brodie is a teacher at the Marcia Blaine School, it is a conventional school, but she is far from a conventional teacher. Miss Brodie develops her set of girls – the girls she intends to develop and influence so they become the crème de la crème. This relationship sets the six girls apart from their peers, and puts them at odds with the other teachers. The girls become her confident, through them she lives vicariously – while the girls weave their own stories around Miss Brodie.  They even become involved in her odd relationship with the art master.

The narrative is told across several time frames – as the girls grow from 10 years old to 15 and then 18 years old, with the adult girls looking back at their time with Miss Jean Brodie. Their reflections centre on their memories of what Miss Brodie saw as her betrayal by one of her girls.

"We shall discuss tomorrow night the persons who oppose me' said Miss Brodie. 'But rest assured they shall not succeed. ''No,' said everyone. 'No, Of course they won't. ''Not while I am in my prime. It is important to recognize the years of one's prime, always remember that,..'

The novel is short – and yet manages to pack quite a punch. The relationship between Jean Brodie and her girls is quite sinister Miss Brodie’s influence is all encompassing – although she certainly doesn’t wield all the power. Sandy particularly comes across as the rebel of the bunch – and was the most likeable of any of them.

I did enjoy this little novel, but I have found it hard to review it and I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I expected to. If I am honest I didn’t entirely like the writing style of this novel – although I do think it is well written, very witty as well as a little dark. I can’t work out exactly what it is about the style of the writing that didn’t gel with me – but something jarred. However overall I am glad I have read it– but I’m not sure I will be rushing out to get more Muriel Spark to read just yet.


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