The Girls of Slender Means

Long ago in 1945 all the nice people in England were poor, allowing for exceptions ... " Thus begins Muriel Spark 's tragic and rapier-witted portrait of a London ladies' hostel just emerging from the shadow of World War I. Like the May of Teck Club building itself -- " three times window shattered since 1940 but never directly hit " -- its lady inhabitants do their best to act as if the world were back to normal, practicing elocution and jostling over suitors and a single Schiaparelli gown. But the book 's harrowing ending reveals that the girls' giddy literary and amorous peregrinations are hiding some tragically painful war wounds.
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Published September 1st 2008 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1963
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The Girls of Slender Means
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gave it

Spark at her best; acerbic, bitingly funny, atirical, unsettling, great combinatio of language, numerous interesting and well-crafted characters, layers of meaning and it captures a moment of social history to boot.

Spark introduces him to the reader in her own inimitable way; “ We come now to Nicholas Farringdon in his thirty-third year.

No one at the May of Teck Club took this seriously as he looked quite normal: that is to say, he looked slightly dissipated, like the disappointing son of a good English family that he was. ” One of the strengths Spark has is her characterization and this ovel is no exception; even the minor characters are well drawn and some of Spark ’ s descriptions are really sharp.

It will come as no surprise to regular Spark readers that farce turns into tragedy.

The tragedy towards the beginnin of the essa is shocking, but not inexplicabl.

However, at the very nd of the ook during the VJ day celebrations there is an act of violence perpetrated by a man on a girl ( neither characters in the ook) that is so hocking and surprising that it hits the reader almost physically.

gave it

The book ends with VE day and ends with VJ day but there is an action observed on the ast page of the trilogy, small in its reporting, unnoticed by all but one character and Spark uses this to remnds us that peace, if it is to mean anything has to be les than just an absence of war.

gave it

That is why the word 'slender' in the title carries its own weight, and hurtles the story all the way to the wonderfu ending where we discover just what Slender Means.It 's interesting that among the twenty-two novels Muriel Spark wrote, this and The Ministe of Miss Jean Brodie, which were written one after the other, are the most alike, and the most unlike the rest.

However it 's not Nicholas' poetry that is quoted in the nove but lines from Shelley, Tennyson, Marvell and Hopkins.

I looked it up and found this verse which, though not quoted in the books, perfectly mirrors the dramatic ending of the tal: And frightful a nightfall folded rueful a day ... ………she rears herself to divineEars, and the sig of the tall nunTo the men in the tops and the tackleRode over the storm 's brawling ... ………………………………………………………………This book, along with The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, marks the highpoint of my April frolics in the company of Muriel Spark.

gave it


And indeed the foreboding that this poem distils will precipitate the tragedy and reveal its parallelism with the irls of slender means.

This time the sudden change in tone and the turnings of the plot also baffled me and left me in awe.If I managed to write a review it is because abrainwave came over me.

gave it

As a snap-shot of the time that the retellin is set in, this books works wonderfully well.

While Spark 's writing is excellent, I could not help but compare The Girls of Slender Means with the other two books of hers that I have read- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and A Far Cry From Kensington.

gave it

The climax is what turned a 3-star book for me into a 4; and I think with a reread, that could turn into a 5, especially if I were more familiar with the Hopkins poem at its centr.

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