A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark
I finally finished A Tale of Two Cities yesterday, after what seemed a long time. What a great story, and heartbreakingly perfect ending! I did love this book, but for the first 3/4 or so, I just wasn’t really in the right mood for Dickens. I should have waited until I was, because I kept getting distracted and thus I feel I must have lost a good deal in this reading. I am planning to pick it up again someday when I can give it the attention it deserves, though, so I won’t say much more about it now.
After finishing A Tale of Two Cities, I read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark, and it was exactly the kind of read I needed at that point: brief, flowing, with a healthy dose of “something isn’t quite right” foreshadowing and suspense.
Miss Jean Brodie is a somewhat eccentric, unconventional teacher who is always butting heads with her colleagues at a traditional, staid girls’ school in 1930’s Edinburgh. A group of six young girls fall under her influence and throughout the rest of their high school careers are known as The Brodie Set, a somewhat precocious group to whom Miss Jean Brodie is dedicated to turning into the “creme de la creme” of society. As the girls grow older they become more and more entrenched in Miss Jean Brodie’s personal life, and her embodied admiration of fascism combined with their desire to please and identify with this woman who has fully captured their imaginations inevitably leads to…complications.
The story was fun and complemented by a narrative that changes perspectives and time periods so effortlessly that the changes are hardly noticeable and it seems you’re absorbing the whole story, beginning middle and end, all at once. I’ve been meaning to read Muriel Spark for a while now, and I’m glad I finally did. I look forward to reading her again in the future. And I’ve just added the movie version to my Netflix queue.