Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” as Want to Read:
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  42,568 ratings  ·  2,827 reviews
At the staid Marcia Blaine School for Girls in Edinburgh, Scotland, teacher extraordinaire Miss Jean Brodie is unmistakably, and outspokenly, in her prime. She is passionate in the application of her unorthodox teaching methods and strives to bring out the best in each one of her students. Determined to instill in them independence, passion, and ambition, Miss Brodie advis ...more
Paperback, Perennial Classics Edition, 150 pages
Published February 3rd 1999 by Harper Perennial (first published 1961)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Emily Late 1920s through the end of the 1930s. The majority of the action is concentrated in the mid-thirties.
Osred The author suggests several times that Miss Brodie is quite typical of many Edinburgh women of her era and educational background. What is different a…moreThe author suggests several times that Miss Brodie is quite typical of many Edinburgh women of her era and educational background. What is different about her is that she is working in a conservative school, the values of which clash with her own. There are frequent references to the physical appearance of Edinburgh, as perceived by different characters (and the author), in terms of colour and light and shade - as well as glimpses of the social conditions of the unemployed and the poor. At least two of the other teachers would be unlikely to have been found outside of 1930s Scotland, in my opinion. And Sandy, the girl who betrays Miss Brodie, is emphatically only half-Scottish: a partial outsider with middle-class English notions who knows very little about the city in which she lives or the nature of its people. It is perhaps not surprising that, rather than engaging with the place and its people, she becomes a nun.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  42,568 ratings  ·  2,827 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

My initial reaction is, take Dead Poets Society, make the students young women instead of young men, replace the character played by Robin Williams with Iago and -poof! - you have this novel.
After reviewing several of Muriel Spark's less well-known books recently, I'm now attempting to review the one that made her famous. I imagined that it would be the easiest to write about, being the one with the most interesting structure (and the least absurd plot), but no, the opposite has been the case. In fact, I've had to scrap the review I wrote the other day because, for all its sensible words, it completely missed the point of the book. I knew what the point was but I somehow got sidetra ...more
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dolors by: Memories of my particular Miss Brodie
Shelves: read-in-2016
“The prime of Miss Jean Brodie” takes us back to the Edinburgh of the thirties. School mistress Miss Jean Brodie has selected six of her students to take as confidants. These girls will be the recipients of Miss Brodie’s unorthodox education that includes fictionalized versions of her love affairs magnified by her need to prolong her “prime” as much as possible.
The resulting story revolves around the complex, humoristic and even a bit extravagant relationship that Miss Brodie develops with her
Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life.

We remember our best and worst teachers all our lives. The ones who moulded us, however much we resisted. I particularly remember the English teacher who continued to take an active interest in me after I dropped it as a subject, because I wanted to read purely for pleasure (I was thrilled to meet her again, a few years ago). The geography teachers who fostered a gentle rivalry among their Oxbridge hopefuls. And the house-mistre
I know I’ve had this happen to me before, be surprised by a book. Let me explain. As I started reading The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, I imagine I would like it. Yes, I did. However, as I finished Muriel Spark’s novel my sentiments were much stronger. I knew that I had to read it again sometime soon. That has happened to me before, and don’t get me wrong, there have been many books that had the same impact on me. Like The Lover, Madame Bovary and Atonement, just to mention three of my favorite bo ...more
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
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paula by: Hanneke
During the latter half of 2019, I noted that many GR friends were reading Muriel Spark. Quite a few reviews of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie popped up on the site. I had seen the movie starring Maggie Smith as Jean Brodie and remembered her portrayal well. I decided I best read one of her novels as I hadn’t done so to date.

Set in 1930’s Scotland, Jean Brodie teaches in a small private school in Edinburgh. She takes a few favored young girls under her wing to teach them the ways of the world from
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Truth is stranger than fiction."

And that is a strange truth indeed considering the amount of strange things Muriel Spark manages to fit into her slim fiction.

Miss Brodie's prime is as strange a phenomenon as they come. She is both modern and traditional, radical and conservative, openminded and protectionist. She is a Natural Fascist in the 1930s, a Scottish schoolmistress by trade but a girl shaper by profession. Give her a girl at an impressionable age, and she will form out of that mallea
Violet wells
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sex, art and politics. Three areas of life where idealism can get stuck in and have a field day. Miss Brodie has made a vocation of applying gold glitter to her preferences in life and seeks with single-minded righteousness to create a likeness of herself in her pupils. But in this novel Muriel Spark shows us she's not a great fan of idealism. In fact, she mercilessly ridicules it as a philosophical blueprint.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie sets itself up as a moral fable. Except it refuses to a
A masterpiece.

Rather like The Girls of Slender Means you are strongly aware of the economical construction, the careful rocking of the narrative backwards and forwards in time so that you know everything that will happen in the story in advance. Yet this has an odd effect in maintaining and sustaining the narrative, you are shifted from wanting to know what will happen, to how it will happen, to why it will happen, from events, dear boy, events to psychology.

As I approached the end of this simp
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, classics, english
Nothing infuriates people more than their own lack of spiritual insight…

There are very few books which get hold of you from the very first line, for the words are refined with such a surgical precision that you may realize, any sort of modification would come as superfluous and redundant. The authors, who may control the great literary baton to such an effect that there seems to be a pleasing unison between mind and words, are one of the most endangered species. For one always overdo something u
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Madeline in Scotland

At an old school in Scotland
There were six little girls
Hand-picked for a glimpse
Into Jean Brodie's world.
She was in her prime
And would make of them
With a little hard work
The crème de la crème.
Steven Godin
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My humble apologies must go to Muriel Spark, who not only did I assume was an American but also still in the land of the living (died 2006), until I discovered she turned out to be a bonny wee lass from Scotland (so much for my literary knowledge). One thing I am definitely sure of though, 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' is definitively British through and through.

Short and bittersweet, this features a quite sublimely constructed narrative full of wit and brevity where the story focuses on the c
Barry Pierce
"Who is the greatest Italian painter?"
"Leonardo da Vinci, Miss Brodie."
"That is incorrect. The answer is Giotto, he is my favourite."

Jean Brodie. Oh Miss Jean Brodie. She may be one of my new favourite heroines in literature. I mean she's like up there with Emma Bovary from Madame Bovary, she's that good. I think there were other characters in this novel? Idk. I don't care. It's all about Jean. I love Jean. Jean. Jean. Hmmm I'm starting to think I liked her character more than the book itself. O
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
I never had a teacher who took me under her wing, as Miss Jean Brodie did with her handpicked group of young girls.  Her teaching methods were unorthodox, but her influence was all encompassing.  She is formidable, and makes many of the other teachers on staff uncomfortable.     

 A frivolous nature is not to be endured.  Indeed, this teacher is all about her students cultivating an "air of composure", ala the art of the Mona Lisa and the slight smile painted on her face.  Serene, tranquil, full
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it

This is my second Muriel Spark; the first one, A Far Cry from Kensington, I read a few months ago. So, I am new to her writing and still trying to feel its pulse since I found both books very different in tone. This ought not to surprise me since almost three decades separate the two with 1961 for 'Miss Jean Brodie' and 1988 for 'Kensington'. This jump in time is echoed by the plots in a strange way, the earlier work is populated by schoolgirls and the latter dwells in the publishing world in Lo
Sidharth Vardhan

“It occurred to Sandy, there at the end of the Middle Meadow Walk, that the Brodie set was Miss Brodie's fascisti, not to the naked eye, marching along, but all knit together for her need and in another way, marching along. That was all right, but it seemed, too, that Miss Brodie's disapproval of the Girl Guides had jealousy in it, there was an inconsistency, a fault. Perhaps the Guides were too much a rival fascisti, and Miss Brodie could not bear it.”

One commonly featuring theme with all t
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found that I could not read the passages where Miss Brodie speaks unless my inner ear rendered them in the voice of the inimitable Maggie Smith. The combination of Jean Brodie's precise vocabulary and elegance of structure with Smith's lilting tones, and prolonged vowels - meant that at least for me, the two could not be separated. The passages where Jean Brodie speaks, did not come to life unless I allowed this rhythmic Edinburgh melody to prevail.

'There is an old tradition for this practice
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-read
Muriel Spark dipped her pen once more in that poisonous inkwell of hers and wrote this extraordinary tale of the unconvential behaviour of mistress Miss Jean Brodie which leaves you wondering if you are supposed to dig through layers of distortion and perspectives to learn what actual impact Miss Jean Brodie had on the life of each of her Brodie set girls. Or is it much more simple and is the clutch of Jean Brodie on her set only a positive imput on these impressionable girls’ lifes. The story i ...more
Jul 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Parthiban Sekar
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, english
It is quite common in case of any successful person the frequent questions of his or her influences. Similarly, in case of any unpleasant individuals the question of his or her bringing-up, but with scorn. Such is the importance of influence over impressionable minds. And teachers play a vital role in causing a positive influence over their pupils.

“To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil's soul.”

This is the story of Miss Jean Brodie who claims to be "in her prim
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Of Mussolini,
Don't Preach
To a Teen-ey
Where You Teach

"it's only possible to betray where loyalty is due"

Sandy, now Sister Helena of the Transfiguration, is the omniscient narrator of the story looking back at her time in the 1930s at a Catholic grade school in Edinburgh, Scotland, time spent as part of the set of six girls who their teacher Miss Brodie called her "creme de la creme." Ms. Sparks used a number of flash-forwards to most effectively and methodically convey the ultimate betrayal of M
Jan 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nice-cover, 2011, brit-lit
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
May 22, 2009 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"I shall remain at this education factory where my duty lies. There needs must be a leaven in the lump. Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life. The gang who oppose me shall not succeed."
- Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.


Published in 1961 and set in a Scottish girl's school in the pre-World War II period (1930s) when Fascism was favorable (among those in their Prime) and on the rise, 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' tells the story of an unconventional teach
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a deceptive novel, which contains a story of depth and scope despite it's short length, and which I have returned to many times. The plot concerns the unconventional schoolteacher, Miss Jean Brodie, who seeks to influence a chosen group of schoolgirls - the so called 'Brodie Set'. Much of the novel is relayed through the eyes of Sandy Stranger, who enters Miss Brodie's class in 1930, and becomes a confidante of the teacher.

Miss Brodie virtually wages war on the school; as the embattled h
“To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil's soul.”
― Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

rating and review of this quirky and fun book to follow.

It took me forever to read this. Once I did though I could see what all the fuss is about. Miss Jean Brody is such a vivid character. I so enjoyed reading about her.

This book has been compared to Dead Poet Society but they are not really anything alike in my humble opinion. In DPS, The teacher is an unsung hero . Not
The central theme of this book focuses upon the pivotal role a teacher can play in the lives of young students. As young adults mature there is that point where seeking to become independent and searching to find a foothold in the adult world, peers and parents and all those one has relied on must be discarded. Sometimes it is a teacher that fills that hole. Then let's keep our fingers crossed that that teacher is a good one. Reading this book will make you think back to your own youth and that ...more
Mohsin Maqbool
Scottish novelist Muriel Spark.

SCOTTISH writer Muriel Spark writes short novels or rather novellas, but they have far greater depth than novels that might be 500 pages. Many thick tomes are cluttered with unnecessary stuff; Miss Spark’s novels hardly have any because she is crisp and always to the point where her creative writing is concerned.

Film still on 'Miss Brodie' book cover.

Her bestseller, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, was first published in 1962. Its protagonist Miss Jean Brodie is a
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Progressief? 1 8 Dec 21, 2019 04:13AM  
Reading 1001: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark 3 21 Mar 22, 2019 04:04PM  
The Bowie Book Club: Reading discussion + General comments, background and resources 3 18 May 20, 2018 10:34AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Mary Queen of Scots Got her Head Chopped Off
  • Mrs. Dalloway
  • Green Water, Green Sky
  • Brideshead Revisited
  • The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner
  • Wide Sargasso Sea
  • The House with the Green Shutters
  • Sunset Song (A Scots Quair, #1)
  • Girl, Woman, Other
  • A Passage to India
  • The End of the Affair
  • Cold Comfort Farm
  • A Handful of Dust
  • East is East
  • Lucky Jim
  • The Good Soldier
  • Howards End
  • The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart
See similar books…
Dame Muriel Spark, DBE 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. In 2008 The Times newspaper named Spark in its list of "the 50 greatest British writers since 1945".

Spark received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1965 for The Mandelbaum Gate, the Ingersoll Foundation TS Eli

News & Interviews

You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
17 likes · 7 comments
“To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil's soul.” 1015 likes
“Allow me, in conclusion, to congratulate you warmly upon your sexual intercourse, as well as your singing.” 85 likes
More quotes…