The Finishing School--Muriel Spark


The title says it all. Think of all of the ways in which the word "finish" can be used and this school exemplifies them.

A recent review in First Things lamented the fact that the insanity of society has outpaced those who could conceivably satirize it, and so satire fails. And perhaps as satire, the book isn't as powerful as say Decline and Fall or Vile Bodies. On the other hand, it is very, very amusing and never brittle.

Ms. Spark may satirize and she may be caustic, but she lacks Waugh's vitriol. She likes her characters too much. Which is not to say that she sympathizes with their foibles. No, indeed, each is forced to live out their insanity; however, she neatly and carefully disposes of each of the major characters in the novel in two pages at the end. Each leads the life that has been presaged in the pages preceding.

While this may not be the height of her art, it is certainly not a failure as a swan song. Beautifully written, insightful, and extremely amusing throughout. Definitely for adults, but as adult entertainment, certainly superior, and possibly only excelled by her own earlier work.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on April 28, 2006 7:23 PM.

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