The Girls of Slender Means


Kensington between VE and VJ day. Days of rationing and loose living, days of saints and sinners. Meet Nicholas, who when one first encounters him is dead in a foreign land, to all eyes apparently a martyr. Meet Jane who works for a publisher and makes much of her money through forging hard-luck letters to get the signatures of famous people which she sells to a local book-dealer. Her great disappointment in life, a typed note card from GBS who says that because she asks for no money, he will not sign the note, his signature being sometimes worth a few shillings. Meet Selina, a woman of not terribly proper conduct who chants the great chant of self esteem even when everything around her is going up in flames. Meet Joanna who gives elocution lessons, much of her initial work centered around The Wreck of the Deutschland. This is only a small circle of the cast of characters that populates this wonderful, insightful, and incisive novel. If Miss Jean Brodie represents perfection and if perfection must be granted only to one novel, then this one so closely approaches it as it makes for a hard time to distinguish the two in quality. Here is the same large cast and the same message of faith and salvation couched in a new way.

The reader cannot fail to be amazed at the many, many different faces of Ms. Spark as she marches relentlessly toward one goal--a life of meaning, meaning found only in the proper worship of God and the proper service of God--meaning that is without substance outside of the eternal verities.

Highly recommended. If you must read only two Muriel Spark novels, this must be one of them. (Of course Miss Jean Brodie is the other.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on May 19, 2006 7:41 AM.

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