For this category, I picked my first title by Muriel Sparks, and author I wanted to read something from for a long time.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie didn’t disappoint. After, I proceeded to watch the iconic movie, which I have to say kept the disconcerting feeling and mood of the book. The movie is a classic on its own way. It differs from the book yet it stays true to the atmosphere. Both are worth reading and watching.
The book portrays the oppressive times and ways of a small boarding girls school in Edingburg. However, the book is more open ended, and it retains a quality, that of the non linear narration that the movie lacks, which makes this book so intriguing. The book also tells more of the girls than the movie does. What you are told about the future or past, will affect how you understand the narrative in the present. What’ Sparks doesn’t say is more shocking that what she does.
The book felt like forcing me to make my own interpretation of this woman, Miss Jean Brodie. Who is she? Our relationship with her, and how others around her see her, tell us more about them or us than of her. We hear her talk, but she doesn’t speak about her feelings, motives, or reveals any of her inner thoughts. She’s elusive at best, but there’s no duplicity in her. She has strong convictions and she doesn’t challenge them, I believe due to the lack of depth in those around her. She only presents the girls with her ideas about art, life, and politics. And that’s the part that I questioned. Was she honestly exposing her views and encouraging free thinking, or did she manipulate the young minds in a direction she may not have the right to steer them to?
Makes me think about another recent read on the same topic of a school, a headmaster and his ideals, vision, and relationship with his students, his family and staff, and the sons of his former students. It was The Rector of Justin, by Louis Auchincloss. Very different styles though.
I want to keep reading more books by Muriel Sparks. Hopefully, The Only Problem is next. I also would like to read this title a second time and probably get more thoughts or catch more details in it, different nuances. Her books are not too long, and this wasn’t one I’d forget.