Aiding and Abetting


Muriel Spark's second to last opus is a bit of a disappointment compared with the sparkling and incisive The Finishing School. I wonder if part of the difficulty was that this book was based on two true stories, welded together to give us the narrative of the novel.

And the narrative itself is a bit disappointing--Lucky Lucan, a wealthy member of British Minor Nobility twenty years ago (or more) killed his nanny and attempted to murder his wife. That's the backdrop, and the story concerns Lucan visiting a psychiatrist who used to be a false stigmatic, and Lucan who is not Lucan posing, and Lucan running away from two people tracking down Lucan, and so forth. There were some amusing moments, but little in the way of insight into character or meaning. There was a long chain of obsession with blood that led absolutely nowhere.

[Note: if you intend to read the novel and are already familiar with the works of Evelyn Waugh, the following paragraph contains a spoiler.]

Finally, the end comes abruptly, as is de rigeur for Spark's novels and when it comes it is essentially cribbed from her friend and mentor Evelyn Waugh (see Black Mischief.)

Overall, because of the relatively plodding place, the lack of the usual Spark charm, and the lack of any character of interest, I would recommend the work to Spark completists only. If you are first dipping into Spark, you would be better off with Memento Mori, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, or The Finishing School.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on May 9, 2006 12:28 PM.

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Everything You Need to Know About Miss Jean Brodie is the next entry in this blog.

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