Monday, February 19, 2018

#ReadingMuriel2018: The Early Novels

I'm excited to join in heavenali's Muriel Spark reading challenge, and this is my first post, dealing with the early novels. 

The Comforters (1957) has to do with Caroline, a young woman who has been a society girl and a recent convert to Roman Catholicism. She's been working on a novel, Form in the Modern Novel. Caroline's been plagued by sounds which she refers to as the "typing ghost" in which she hears the novel being typed as we are reading the novel. 

Her boyfriend, Laurence, is concerned about his grandmother, Louisa Jepp, who has been entertaining an eccentric group of gentleman. What are they up to? Are these men merely coming to Louisa's house for tea, or is there something more sinister going on?  

Even though I'm not sure I completely understood The Comforters, it was a fun read and quite inventive. At some point, I plan to revisit the novel.

Muriel Spark's second novel, Robinson (1958), is the story of January Marlow, traveler on a plane bound for the Azores before it crashes on a tiny island in the North Atlantic, known as Robinson. She is one of three survivors and the only woman on the island. The other two survivors from the crash are Tom Wells, an annoying and somewhat sinister American salesman and owner of a magazine, Your Future, and Jimmie Waterford, who is part Dutch and has an unusual way of expressing himself, having learned English from reading poetry. Then, there's the mysterious Robinson, for whom the island is named. He's rather eccentric and lives a rather ordered life on this small island. The only other inhabitant is Miguel, an orphan boy.  

The story is told by January after she has returned to London. Like The Comforters, Robinson deals with Catholicism but also human nature and what happens when there is a clash of personalities in a deteriorating situation. I have read Robinson referred to as a mystery, but I'd call it a psychological thriller. 

I loved Robinson and found it unputdownable.

As far as Momento Mori (1959) is concerned, I had a bit of a love hate relationship with this novel. I loved the characters, an upper class group of elderly friends in 1950s London. There's great humor in the novel, but it also deals with getting older and inevitable death. The great mystery of Momento Mori has to do with the telephone call the characters receive. In the call, there is a voice saying, "Remember, you must die." 

Unfortunately, I found the ending a bit of a let down, and of the three novels, I liked Momento Mori the least.

Have you read any of Muriel Spark's novels? 


  1. So glad you have been joining in with Muriel Spark I missed you in my roundup yesterday - sorry. Will try and edit you in. By the way the hash tag is: #ReadingMuriel2018 ��

    1. Thanks so much! Sorry about getting the hashtag wrong. Thanks for letting me know!