Allison's Reviews > The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
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's review
Jan 21, 10

Read in January, 2010

I probably shouldn't rate this, as I read it immediately after The Driver's Seat, which is what piqued my curiosity about this book in the first place. I don't think there's any matching The Driver's Seat for me; thus, in my (possibly small, piggish) eyes, all of her other works are doomed to suffer in comparison.

At least that was the case here. While I love Jean Brodie's take on team spirit, I didn't see what was so inspiring or illuminating about her. Spark does a good job of rendering her a complex, fallible character with unlovely aspects in addition to her more (strikingly less in evidence) flattering ones, but I still didn't get it. She basically didn't teach and made her set a captive audience for her interpersonal dramas (in which she largely behaves like a migraine). And all that pro-Fascism (which, I realize, is not supposed to cast her in a favorable light)! What I also didn't get is the motive for her betrayal. The text pretty much dismissed any of the reasonable possibilities outright. Since the story hinges on the betrayal and the events leading up to it, it was disappointing to walk away feeling like it was ultimately a random and senseless act. Maybe I'm missing something.

This is a good study in characterization and the art of "showing, not telling" (although what's so wrong with just telling from time to time?). I loved Sandy's imaginative forays, especially her exchange with the Lady of Shalott, who, as we Anne of Green Gables fans know, is a vital figure in any young-girl-coming-of-age story.

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