The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark

Published April 13, 2013 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Jean Brodie is a teacher with advanced and unconventional ideas that put her at odds with the other members of staff at the Marcia Blaine School in Edinburgh, as she endeavours to shape the lives of the select group of girls who form her “set”.

What did I think?:

As a fellow Scot, I am ashamed to say I have never read anything by Muriel Spark before although I’ve heard a lot about this book and the film starring Vanessa Redgrave. Miss Brodie is an absolutely fascinating and charismatic character that completely drew me in, and I could understand why some girls developed an infatuation with her. Jean Brodie is in her prime, as she constantly reminds us, and feels she has a duty to “her girls” at a crucial time of their lives to shape them into “the creme de la creme,” in a manipulative and selfish manner:

“Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life.”

For the girls education is all about Miss Brodie and little else – love affairs past and present (with their singing and art teachers) and her warped views on fascism. My favourite character apart from Brodie herself had to be one of the girls from her set called Sandy. She invents little scenarios in her head that can be hilarious. As the book progresses and flits seamlessly between the past and present and the girls come of age, the veil slips a little, and they begin to see Miss Brodie without their rose-tinted glasses on, as a human being with flaws and oddities. Throughout it all the authors beautiful prose and sharp wit shape the story:

“Allow me, in conclusion, to congratulate you warmly upon your sexual intercourse, as well as your singing.”

This is an eccentric and unconventional novel and I am now intrigued to read more of the authors work.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

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