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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  19,055 ratings  ·  999 reviews
The elegantly styled classic story of a young, unorthodox teacher and her special--and ultimately dangerous--relationship with six of her students.
Paperback, Perennial Classics Edition, 150 pages
Published February 3rd 1999 by Harper Perennial (first published 1961)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Samadrita
Henry Louis Vivian Derozio is a name possibly not known or cared for beyond the frontiers of India.
At the tender age of 17 this man of Anglo-Indian descent, possessing a sharp intellect and an even sharper tongue, was already a Professor of English Literature and History, busy influencing a group of eager, well-bred young men hailing from affluent Bengali families in Calcutta. He became a leading figure in the age of socio-cultural reform movements in Bengal in the dawn of the 19th century thro...more
Aubrey
4.5/5
Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life.
It wasn't until recently that I became aware of how teachers had viewed me during my high school years. To be frank, I was surprised that they had acknowledged me at all, let alone discussed me amongst themselves. This discussion extended out from time to time to parents associated with the school, one of whom is now a very good friend of mine and my reason for knowing about this at all. I was liked, apparently, for being a...more
rachel
Miss Jean Brodie is a magnetic minor fascist -- which surprised me, knowing little about the book beforehand except that a.) it was made into a movie starring Maggie Smith and b.) that this cover is cute and also very twee.

But what Spark does here is let the reader see with the eyes of the "Brodie set," of six distinctive girls who follow their teacher in and out of the classroom from their pre-adolescent through their teenage years. We move with Sandy, Rose, Jenny, Monica, Eunice, and Mary from...more
Shovelmonkey1
Dec 01, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the creme de la creme and anyone who thinks they might be in their prime
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
A slim, sparse and brittle novella, much like the slim, slight and jagged Miss Jean Brodie herself. Less of a teacher and more of a life coach, Miss Jean Brodie is to Morningside in the 1930s what Rachel Zoe was to Paris, Nicole, Misha et al in Beverly Hills in the noughties.

The Brodie set is a group of archly self aware girls, all hand picked by the charming, erudite and broadly fascist Jean Brodie as her cultural mini-me’s. Socially acceptable sponges who will carry forth into the world the id...more
Paul
Jul 26, 2014 Paul rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: spark
4.5 stars rounded up
This is another one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for years; seen the film several times. Having also read The Ballad of Peckham Rye recently and been impressed by Spark, I thought it was time to finally read this. It is brief, but very cleverly put together, employing a flash forward technique, so Spark reveals the plot and the eventual ending bit by bit and in a varied order. Spark also makes good use of some neat aphorisms; “I am in my prime”, you are the crème...more
Maureen
this is the second muriel spark book i've read. the first was The Girls of Slender Means and i wasn't sold. i cared so little about any of the brittle bitches she wrote about. i was told by an excellent friend after my initial insouciance that i had chosen the wrong book to start with -- actually what he said was, "Stop asking me for reading suggestions. You'll vaguely recall the author's name and months later pick the wrong book by him/her and then grumble about it. :P" and trusting that it was...more
Tfitoby
After my recent introduction to the work of Muriel Spark via The Hothouse by the East River I went on a mini binge of buying every title that came across my path in second hand bookshops, until eventually I found the novel that she is most famous for and the one I had seen everywhere I looked for years until that moment I decided I wanted my own copy. Typical.

Still when it finally found its way in to my hands I didn't want to put it down such was the pleasure I was having in getting to know Miss...more
Joanna
Embarassingly for someone with a degree in women's studies, I'd never read this classic. Thanks to jury duty the past couple of days, I've now remedied this gap in my reading. I shall now need to see the classic film, which I've also missed. That background aside, I really enjoyed this book. Yes, not much happens in the novel. But the richness of the characters and the dialog make this very short book crackle with electricity and life. Miss Brodie "in her prime" becomes an idealized and nurturin...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Very nearly four stars, but I can't go that high because the author doesn't provide a strong enough motivation for the girl who betrays Miss Brodie.
Miss Jean Brodie is a forty-something Scottish school teacher who never tires of reminding people that she is IN HER PRIME. Someday when I have nothing better to do, I may just go through and count how many times we are told by Miss Brodie (and her girls) that she is IN HER PRIME. Meanwhile, whenever I want an excuse for my eccentric behavior, I wil...more
Tyler
Apr 12, 2010 Tyler rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Tyler by: Various Reviews
I read this to add to my female authors. I like this book, yet I see why some readers don't. The title implies some sort of in-depth psychological analysis to come, and that doesn't happen. Au contraire.

The fame of this novel comes from the strong authorial control over the narrative. Particularly interesting is Spark's manipulation of temporality -- she moves back and forth between present and future with unusual effectiveness.

The other remarkable thing is the broad brushstrokes with which sh...more
Sarah
I can't believe I found this book. I didn't even know it was a book. I only vaguely remember the film adaptation, though I was profoundly affected by it. It's one of many such films that has haunted me in memory fragments. The themes of the movie were too-deep, too-unsettling for me at...whatever age I happened to be. Oddly enough, this touches on the main idea of the story.

Miss Jean Brodie is a pretty, young, and unorthodox teacher. She teaches poetry when she should be teaching math and scienc...more
Evan
Might fascism have a whimsical element? Dictators have their reasons, often unreasonable ones not guided by the facts. Hitler and Mussolini were ready to tear down Europe and rebuild it in Greco-Roman splendor. Irrational, mad, whimsical. There's an excellent 1989 documentary titled, The Architecture of Doom, that offers the provocative argument that Hitler was largely driven by aesthetics - an architectural vision to raze and rebuild Europe, following his vengeful rage at being kicked out of ar...more
Kate
Hit the snooze button. Because you won't wanna wake up early to finish this trite piece of over-celebrated frump. Miss Jean Brodie is the kind of co-dependent teacher that smart kids steer clear of -- except here she attracts otherwise likable school girls and prods them along this tiresome plot like dying heifers. Spark's flat characters repeat the same dumb one-liners until you wonder how anyone ever thought this author was clever. One student dies in a fire. Another joins a nunnery. But when...more
Koeeoaddi
Much slyer, dryer and maliciously funnier than I gave it credit for when I read it at age 19. It was the Age of Aquarius and I thought I was supposed to love and identify with our freespirited, nonconformist, irritating loon of a heroine. I didn't then. I don't now, either, but I sure do love Muriel Sparks.
Paul
Yes, this was a very slightly cool novel with schoolgirls being taught "advanced" ideas by Miss Brodie. In other hands you might have got something along the lines of Emanuelle Goes To College but the glinty eyed Miss Spark keeps the whole thing perfectly respectable, if that can include being a fan of Italian fascism.
William
A sterling example of literary compression and the effective use of non-chronological narrative structure. A book that gets the reader involuntarily exclaiming aloud such is its brilliance, its self assurance, its high level of artistic attainment.
Nate D
Slender and elegant, in many ways simple, but oddly difficult to summarize with any exactitude. A consideration of influence, perhaps, the ways lives fuse and shape one another over years. And then change from where they may have been or once lead. And a character study of a certain sort of mid-century individualist), a not such an uncommon one, or a crazy one, Spark's fluid narration is quick to point out, just one that routes her energy in an uncommon manner. Spark's narrative technique here r...more
Tony
The setting is a conservative private girls' school in Scotland during the 1930s. In part this is a story of growing up, as the tale takes us through the teen years of six girls - Sandy, Rose, Jenny, Monica, Eunice, and Mary. But it revolves mainly around a primary teacher, Miss Jean Brodie, who cultivates these girls as her special favourites, welding them together and nurturing this collective over the following years.

Romantic and statuesque, Miss Brodie has intensity, colour and great self-a...more
Madeleine
Score another point for the It's Not You, It's Me rating. In books as in life, I just can't get past certain character flaws.

Miss Jean Brodie is the kind of teacher my high-school self would have gone positively apeshit over. Younger Me would have eaten up her determination to shirk the stifling curriculum to impart the wisdom and knowledge she felt formed a remarkable mind, hoisting her onto a pedestal made of hero-worship for having the temerity to rock the establishment's boat. That cynical...more
Brian
Delightful and poignant, this novel does more in 150 pages that many similar stories fail to do in 500. Spark creates wonderful characters - amazingly rich in such a short book. I enjoyed reading a short bio on Muriel Spark after finishing this piece to learn that she had a strong female teacher in her youth that stood as the model for Miss Brodie. I also learned that this was made into a film in 1969 that earned Dame Maggie Smith an Oscar for her portrayal as Miss Brodie.

There was a wonderful t...more
Cheryl
The Prime of Maggie-Smith-as-Miss Jean Brodie is what I really read. Having seen the movie first, it was impossible to disentangle the movie images from the book. The book felt surprisingly slight, but some delightful scenes nonetheless.
Christopher
I was going to try to give a little plot teaser here, something about there being a Miss Jean Brodie, a woman in the prime of her life, who has a group of schoolchildren called "the Brodie set", and then something about how she's a sort of Dead Poets' Society-style teacher with a dark side. But every time I tried to write that, I had some trouble. So here, let me list three reasons this book is great and wonderful:

1) This is a technically and stylistically wonderful book. This is one of the few...more
Deborah Markus
I don’t know why I went on a bit of a Muriel Spark kick this week. I’ve read this and Memento Mori before; but it seems to be some law of physics that with a few exceptions, if I read it before my son was born, it doesn’t count. If I read it when I was a kid, I probably read it six or seven times. I was an obsessive re-reader. So the Narnia books and A Wrinkle In Time and Jane Eyre and assorted Stephen King books have stayed with me and always will. But anything I picked up once in my adult life...more
Karol
I know I'm in the minority and I'm expected to laud this book as a literary classic, but I absolutely loath it.

Miss Brodie is smug, self-serving, and self-absorbed. She cuts a ridiculous figure, building herself up to be better than she is, and rather than trying to actually educate her students, she manipulates them all and is unabashedly cruel to one whom she has singled out.

Maybe the writing is good, because great authors make us feel something - right? I did feel plenty of disgust in between...more
Madeline
"Miss Brodie's special girls were taken home to tea and bidden not to tell the others, they understood her private life and her feud with the headmistresss. They learned what troubles in her career Miss Brodie encountered on their behalf. 'It is for the sake of you girls - my influence, now, in the years of my prime.' This was the beginning of the Brodie set."

Six girls at a Scottish school in the 1930's form "the Brodie set", the group of favorites specifically chosen by the most interesting tea...more
Adam
My enthusiasm for this novel waxed and waned and then intensified greatly through the final act. What on first glance seems to promise a quaint, charming excursion into a Great Depression-era Edinburgh girl’s school unfolds, in fact, as something deeply perverse. Miss Jean Brodie is a staunch feminist entering her “prime” and dedicating it, along with her hopes for the future, to half a dozen students of the Marcia Blaine School for Girls. Both of the two male teachers at the school are in love...more
Bunnyhugger1
The 1968 movie, with Dame Maggie Smith's superb performance as Miss Brodie, is one of my all-time favorite films. I'd never felt the need to read the original novel until recently. Maybe my expectations were too high but I was disappointed. I was surprised by the writing style which is repetitive and at times confusing. The characters of the "Brodie Set" seem poorly sketched out. One girl is "known for sex", another has "small piggy eyes", another is "stupid", and so on for all 6 girls - and the...more
Dorian
I read this book as a teenager, after seeing the film version on TV. I have a vague recollection that I thought it very clever and daring, and thought myself very clever and daring for liking it. Thirty years on, it - and I! - seem rather less clever and daring.

Miss Jean Brodie is an Edinburgh schoolmistress in the 1930s. A woman in her prime, as she frequently tells her pupils, and one with Ideas (about Art, about Philosophy, about Truth and Beauty, about Politics...), which she imparts to her...more
Mona
Miss Jean Brodie spent the days of her prime as a ludicrous junior school teacher with unconventional methods at a very staid and respectable girls school in Edinburgh. There, she meets and chooses "Miss Brodie's set", a group of six girls who were unlikely to tell on her and whose parents would not complain about the strange lessons. Miss Brodie is unique, (to paraphrase Spark) the square of the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle where others are merely the square of the sides, and as such,...more
Alicia
I am a little shocked at the lower average 'star' score on Goodreads for this little marvel. It is sly, ironic, funny, clever and eventually triggers a little deeper thought than a light handed novel might be expected to produce. This is a book about our perceptions of ourselves and each other, and it is nearly perfectly done.

Quick synopsis [no spoiler]: Miss Brodie is a teacher in a private Edinburgh girls' school. The six girls that become her 'set' are about 10 or 12 when they become her aco...more
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Dame Muriel Spark, DBE (1918–2006) was a prolific Scottish novelist, short story writer, and poet whose darkly comedic voice made her one of the most distinctive writers of the twentieth century. Spark grew up in Edinburgh and worked as a department store secretary, writer for trade magazines, and literary editor before publishing her first novel in 1957. A few years earlier, in 1954, she converte...more
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The Girls of Slender Means A Far Cry from Kensington Memento Mori The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Girls of Slender Means, The Driver's Seat, The Only Problem (Everyman's Library Contemporary Classics) The Driver's Seat

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“To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil's soul.” 925 likes
“Allow me, in conclusion, to congratulate you warmly upon your sexual intercourse, as well as your singing.” 48 likes
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