Wednesday, June 20, 2018

#ReadingMuriel2018: Not To Disturb (1971)

Not to Disturb by Muriel Spark is one of the books I've read for Phase 3 of #ReadingMuriel2018, hosted by Heavenali. Although Not to Disturb is a slight novel, really a novella at 96 pages, it packs a mighty punch. 

Not to Disturb takes place at a large country house near Geneva where there's much anticipation below stairs about the evening ahead. The servants seem to know what will happen when the Baron and Baroness meet with their secretary behind closed doors. In fact, the servants are so certain that an evil deed will occur that they've negotiated contracts to sell their stories, and the chef has neglected his duties to pore over the fine print of his contract for a movie deal. Then there are the strange noises coming from the attic where the Baron's mentally unstable brother lives.

Away from the estate, a group of journalists have gathered in a hotel room, awaiting the call to summon them to the house, so eager are they to cover the event when it happens.  

At the center of this activity is the butler, Lister--cool as a cucumber, in control, and presiding over what's happening in the moment and making sure all is in order for the future. His second in command is Eleanor, his aunt, who is a few years younger than Lister. 

To reveal more would give away the story. What I can say is that Muriel Spark has crafted a sinister and scary tale that's strange, sometimes darkly humorous, unpredictable and hard to put down. Not to Disturb feels very much like a play rather than a novel. It's different than the other books I've read by Spark, and her brilliance is that each of her books are so different.    

Have you read Not to Disturb? I'd love to know what you think.


  1. I have read it and I found it completely baffling - but enjoyed it because Spark can disorientate the reader in a very winning way!

  2. I'm interested to see that Spark set this novel abroad, this seems to have been something she did several times during the 70s as I mentioned on my recent review of The Takeover I really like the sound of this one though.

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