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Muriel Spark
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message 1: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3932 comments Mod
Hamiltonesque? Let's find out.

Mark (of this parish) mentioned her to me the other week as he was intrigued.

Inspired by this, and a recent episode of the Backlisted Podcast about Memento Mori, Muriel Spark's third novel, here's a thread to discuss Ms Spark and her oeuvre.

So far, Spark-wise, I've only read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - which is pretty good.

However, I'm poised to start....

Memento Mori by Muriel Spark

In late 1950s London, something uncanny besets a group of elderly friends: an insinuating voice on the telephone informs each, "Remember you must die." Their geriatric feathers are soon thoroughly ruffled by these seemingly supernatural phone calls, and in the resulting flurry many old secrets are dusted off. Beneath the once decorous surface of their lives, unsavories like blackmail and adultery are now to be glimpsed. As spooky as it is witty, poignant and wickedly hilarious, Memento Mori may ostensibly concern death, but it is a book which leaves one relishing life all the more.

I'll report back soon.

message 2: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3932 comments Mod
Memento Mori is a very short book. According to the introduction all Muriel Spark's novels are quite brief. A good thing I'd say. So, whilst I'm only on page 34 of 226 of Memento Mori, and although it's a little hard to keep up with all the characters, many of whom seem quite similar, that doesn't feel particularly important. What is wonderful is the sly and subtle humour that appears on every page. In short, I'm really enjoying this so far.

message 3: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 102 comments I always thought Memento Mori was a memoir rather than a novel for some reason, so I was quite surprised to read your synopsis, but it sounds intriguing.

Looking through the list of her books I think I've also only read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

message 4: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3932 comments Mod
Thanks Ruth. I enjoyed The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, but so far Memento Mori is a much lighter read. Although written in the 1950s it doesn't feel dated in the slightest. It's also a funny novel about....death.

message 5: by Mark (new)

Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments Thanks for this update, Nigel. At a glance, it seems that Momento Mori might be the best gateway book for my tastes. Will definitely add it to my list!

message 6: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 3932 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "Thanks for this update, Nigel. At a glance, it seems that Momento Mori might be the best gateway book for my tastes. Will definitely add it to my list!"

I'm really interested in what other readers make of it - and her more generally - so await your reaction with interest. Though no pressure. As and when you have the time and the inclination.

I've now finished Memento Mori

I thoroughly enjoyed my second foray into the startling world of Muriel Spark, having previously read 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' a few years back.

Who is the mystery caller, or perhaps callers, plaguing a group of aged people? The message is always the same “Remember you must die”. As the frequency of calls increases, the reader gets more familiar with a group of connected friends, relatives and acquaintances, many of whom protect secrets from their past. The reactions to these calls are varied and interesting, and reveal a range of different character types. However, it is only the more relaxed and playful characters who are able to identify the caller’s identity.

Memento Mori is tremendous fun, and a very unusual, quirky, unsentimental, wise, funny, and enjoyable read. There’s plenty of sly humour, and Muriel Spark is wonderfully unsympathetic towards this motley crew. I am resolved to read more books by Muriel Spark in the near future.

And, whatever you do remember....

"Death, when it approaches, ought not to take one by surprise. It should be part of the full expectancy of life. Without an ever-present sense of death life is insipid."


Click here to read my review

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