Saturday, October 13, 2018

#ReadingMuriel2018: A Look at Symposium by Muriel Spark

I had the opportunity to read Symposium by Muriel Spark (1990) for Phase 5 of #ReadingMuriel2018, hosted by heavenali. It's hard to believe we're in the midst of Phase 5! 

Symposium opens with a dinner party at the home of American artist Hurley Reed and his companion, the wealthy Australian widow, Chris Donovan. From all accounts, their parties are the kind of affairs for which invitations are much sought after.

Spark introduces the cast of ten characters at the dinner party right away, and I have to admit, it took me awhile to get the different people straight. The talk of the evening is the burglary at the home of Lord and Lady Suzy. Lord Suzy can't seem to stop going on about it. Other conversations take place, which on the face of them don't seem to mean much, but in Spark's writing, everything matters. 

Then there's the expectation of a late arrival at the party, the mother of William Damien, who's a good friend of Chris Donovan. William and his wife, Margaret, have returned from their honeymoon in Venice and are at the dinner party. Much of Symposium deals with how William and Margaret's relationship began with a chance meeting. Or was it a chance meeting?

Spark tells the story of Symposium in flashbacks that untangle the complicated relationships among this set of acquaintances. These flashbacks also reveal the work of a sophisticated ring of thieves who target some of the circle of people at the party. Also occurring on this evening is a murder involving one of the guests and the mystery that follows.

I found Symposium to be a page turner. The characters are interesting, and once again, I liked those elements that Spark uses of mystery and revealing at the beginning of the story exactly what's going to happen. The fun of reading Symposium is seeing how everything unfolds. I always like those unexpected twists and turns in Spark's writing, and I highly recommend Symposium.

Have you read Symposium?   


  1. So glad this was a page turner, as I have this waiting to read in the next couple of weeks. I finished The Only Problem earlier today, and it was brilliant.

  2. I have not read this or any books by Muriel Spark. However, I am enjoying your reviews. Like the sound of this one. May hunt it up. :-)

  3. I've only read a couple of Muriel Spark's books and this isn't one of them... although it does sound interesting.

    Are you still plugging along with Udolpho? I might have had more patience with it if we weren't getting ready for the trip/traveling....

  4. Nice review - I loved Symposium. It feels like the most Sparky of all the Spark books - all her ingredients are there!