Book Review: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
May 22, 2011 18 Comments
When I heard about World Book Night, I was so jealous! The British were having a wonderful giveaway of great books while me, in the next country, could only sit and watch the BBC’s World Book Night programme, or read on various blogs how bloggers had been giving away 48 books each.
So when I came across a giveaway by Little Interpretations of a World Book Night book, I was interested straight away. Especially when the book turned out to be The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark. I had heard a lot about it, and was keen to read it. And then I won the giveaway!
As this book is meant to be shared, I will give it away during the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop at the end of June. If you want to be part of this blog hop as a giver, check out this post.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: What it is about
Miss Jean Brodie is a teacher at Marcia Blaine girls’ school. She is different from the other teachers in the way she teaches her pupils. In particular, she has formed a small group of girls around her that she takes out to the theatre or invites over for tea, in order to draw them close to her, and to shape them in her own way.
The “Brodie set” are six girls who stay befriended with her from their 11th year until about 17, when they are about to leave school. The head teacher, Miss Mackay, is looking for an excuse to throw Miss Brodie out, but is finding this hard to do, as the girls won’t speak a bad word about her.
Miss Brodie is in her prime and this means that her time is now and not later. She’s unattached although in love with one man and in a relationship with another. At the time the novel takes place, the 1930s, this is frowned upon. Miss Brodie teaches her pupils art and life lessons, mainly, but has instructed the children to keep proper course work at the ready, in case Miss Mackay happens to enter the class room.
Slowly we find out more about Miss Jean Brodie, and although she seems like a prim teacher at first, it turns out she is a more complex character than that and full of her own intrigues.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: What I thought
The book was quite funny, in a quiet sort of way. There were no real jokes, but the situations were amusing and the further I got into the book, the more it dawned upon me that the Miss Brodie as we first meet her, is not all she seems.
The book went back and forward in time, often even in the same paragraph. I found that very confusing, but also a brilliant way of putting the story into perspective.
The girls were rather indistinguishable to me. Only Sandy, who played a larger role, stood out. Unfortunately, I never cared much about the girls, nor about Miss Brodie.
The writing was very good, very literary, which made for a slow, but beautiful read. I think this book of 125 pages took me as long to read as the average 350 page novel of lesser literary quality.
I appreciate the cleverness of Muriel Spark in writing this little novel, but I wasn’t enthralled with it. It’s especially suitable for people that like classic literary fiction.
I got this book: from a giveaway by Marie from Little Interpretations
I read this in: English, the original language
Number of pages: 128
First published: 1961
Genre: literary fiction, classic