[KINDLE] ❅ The Girls of Slender Means Author Muriel Spark – Saudionline.co.uk


The Girls of Slender Means explained The Girls of Slender Means, review The Girls of Slender Means, trailer The Girls of Slender Means, box office The Girls of Slender Means, analysis The Girls of Slender Means, The Girls of Slender Means 1e22 Like The May Of Teck Club Itself Three Times Window Shattered SinceBut Never Directly Hit Its Lady Inhabitants Do Their Best To Act As If The World Were Back To Normal Practicing Elocution, And Jostling Over Suitors And A Single Schiaparelli Gown The Novel S Harrowing Ending Reveals That The Girls Giddy Literary And Amorous Peregrinations Are Hiding Some Tragically Painful War WoundsChosen By Anthony Burgess As One Of The Best Modern Novels In The Sunday Times Of London, The Girls Of Slender Means Is A Taut And Eerily Perfect Novel By An Author The New York Times Has Called One Of This Century S Finest Creators Of Comic Metaphysical Entertainment

  • Paperback
  • 140 pages
  • The Girls of Slender Means
  • Muriel Spark
  • English
  • 19 March 2019
  • 9780811213790

About the Author: Muriel Spark

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



10 thoughts on “The Girls of Slender Means

  1. says:

    Long ago in 1945 all the nice people in England were poor, allowing for exceptions After a glorious first sentence like that, how could Mrs Spark fail to deliver her usual sparkling cocktail of absurd every day business, chaotic lifestyles and abrupt drama Her story is set in the direct aftermath of the Second World War, allowing for exceptions It concerns the lives of a charming set of young and not so young ladies living together in a building in London which has survived the bombing, but which is haunted by the myth of a bomb dropped there without exploding, some years ago Most girls are happily carefree and perfectly unengaged in the political developments of the time, even though the life altering moments in history are mentioned in short sub clauses every now and then the capture of Ribbentrop, the dropping of the atomic bomb, Churchill s speeches, Labour s election success, the ruinous state of London.Those are merely descriptions serving as backdrop to the girls real issues Of importance are lovers, jobs, diets, fattening nutrition, who gets to wear the good dress , and who is able to sneak out through the window to have secret meetings on the roof That is a question of exact hip measurements, and the girls of slender hips have a definitive advantage compared to those who only are of slender means Mrs Spark wouldn t be her own drastic self if she didn t prove that in the most dramatic way possible, detonating an old bomb in the garden and setting fire to the house in the process While she is at it, she is happily driving a joyful libertin young man to religious delusions as a longterm effect as well causing his untimely death much later as a martyred missionary in Haiti, where he tries to recover from his shock by forcing his religion upon the unwilling native population This storyline is told in a strange mix of flashbacks and future gossip.Whatever she does, she does with a spark, Mrs Spark, not allowing for exceptions.Is there a meaning in all this reading delight Not necessarily, but how much meaning was there to be had at that moment in time, when the city of London looked like a tourist site for ancient ruins, and food rationing was still very much an issue to be discussed, to the point of becoming a fashion statement Beer was served in jam jars, which was an affectation of the highest order, since jam jars were at that time in shorter supply than glasses and mugs Hers is a world between deep loss and superficial entertainment, between distress and destruction and human capacity to adapt to circumstances and find positive aspects in any situation Hers is a world of transition and versatility and of a remix of the two songs Girls Just Want To Have Fun , and It s My Party, and I Cry If I Want To merged into one loud party karaoke version.There is no safety in Muriel Spark s universe, but she thoroughly enjoys the wild ride without seat belts, taking The Driver s Seat Love her, and with every book I try But for those of you with a soft spot for the main characters in novels Muriel Spark doesn t treat them very well.

  2. says:

    The hostel where all the girls in this novel live has a roof where, it s implied, a kind of liberating excitement awaits, but the only way of getting up there is to squeeze through a narrow window Most of the girls can t get their hips through Some of the girls strip naked and smear their bodies with margarine in a futile attempt to squeeze through Hard to think of a bitingly witty metaphor for what awaits young women in 1945 when they aspire to a bigger horizon For much of this small novel it s like we re following the author around the hostel in search of a plot and a central character We meet the beautiful Selina who has long unsurpassable legs and is the only girl capable of squeezing through the bathroom window She has sex on the roof with a poet The misguided pinnacle of every young girl s fantasies We meet the overweight Jane who does brain work often consisting of writing faked fan letters to famous authors in the hope of getting a signed reply so the man she works for can sell the autograph We meet the virginal Joanna who gives elocution lessons and whose voice is a ubiquitous presence in the building sounding out eerily portentous oracles of poetry It s a kind of marvel how this novel appears on the surface to flit about without much rhyme or reason and yet end up being so entertainingly robust and lucid and poetical in its achievement that of dramatizing, broadly, the straitjacketing of women s expectations.

  3. says:

    There s always a quantity of information in a Muriel Spark book title, no matter how short, but this one is particularly laden with meaning The Girls of the title have very little money, living as they do in a London hostel for young working women during the rationing period towards the end of WWII They have the usual preoccupations of their time military boyfriends, clothes coupons, and food Or food first, then boyfriends and clothes, depending on the preoccupations of the individual girl And although food is scarce, what is available is very stodgy, so weight becomes one of their preoccupations too Which is why the word slender in the title carries its own weight, and hurtles the story all the way to the marvelous ending where we discover just what Slender Means.It s interesting that among the twenty two novels Muriel Spark wrote, this and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which were written one after the other, are the most alike, and the most unlike the rest In both, there is a small set of characters who spend their time in close confinement there is also a set timeframe but with intermittent fast forwards which reflect back to the set time There s a third person narrator in each too, and just as in the complex narration of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie where one of the characters possibly doubles as the third person narrator, here a similar trick operates Jane Wright is the only character whose thoughts we are privy to, and Jane, as we know from the flash forwards, eventually writes an account this book of certain events in the hostel in 1945, just as Sandy in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie later writes a book the book about certain events during the prime of Miss Brodie There is another character in this book whose thoughts we get a little glimpse of, a poet called Nicholas, who later becomes the motivation for Jane s account of those months in 1945 Nicholas being a poet is very fitting poetry is threaded through this story like a ribbon through a Schiaparelli dress However it s not Nicholas poetry that is quoted in the book but lines from Shelley, Tennyson, Marvell and Hopkins These are recited by Joanna, the tall but not so slender vicar s daughter, whose elocution teacher s voice, reciting in the background of The Girls lives, is like a psalm that rhythms the narrative and counts it down towards the finale The lines she recites most often are from Gerard Manley Hopkins The Wreck of the Deutschland, a poem about a ship bound for England that sank in 1875 with some Franciscan nuns on board I looked it up and found this verse which, though not quoted in the book, perfectly mirrors the dramatic ending of the story And frightful a nightfall folded rueful a day she rears herself to divineEars, and the call of the tall nunTo the men in the tops and the tackleRode over the storm s brawling This book, along with The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, marks the highpoint of my April frolics in the company of Muriel Spark But the postman delivered two of her books this morning, so the frolics look fair to froth over into pied and peeled May

  4. says:

    You know how it is with a Murial Spark book, you start off reading oh this is so witty, my fingers are getting singed from her sparky humour that you don t notice her sliding the knife in until she chooses to twist it.I am a little in awe of her restraint, having spent a week reading one book then I breeze through this if you started after lunch you need not fear being late to dinner She s an awfully economical writer, the references to ration books and calorie counting could well apply to her own style Her own story telling is so parred down that the mention of a young woman s unshaven leg comes as a shock surely everything in Spark s world would be razored.On the other hand I do feel a little led up and down the garden path, as by the end it is one hundred and forty pages view spoiler the exact number many vary by edition hide spoiler

  5. says:

    Spark at her best acerbic, bitingly funny, satirical, unsettling, great use of language, numerous interesting and well crafted characters, layers of meaning and it captures a moment of social history to boot It captures the brief period of 1945 between VE day and VJ day, a period of three to four months The novel well novella really centres on the May of Teck Club in Kensington The club is for the Pecuniary Convenience and Social Protection of Ladies of Slender Means below the age of Thirty Years, who are obliged to reside apart from their Families in order to follow an Occupation in London It is written from a later perspective 1963 by one of the girls from the club, Jane Wright She is prompted to look back by the death of Nicholas Farringdon, who in 1945 was an anarchist, but had become a Jesuit priest He has been martyred in Haiti and now his writings from 1945 are suddenly of interest Spark introduces him to the reader in her own inimitable way We come now to Nicholas Farringdon in his thirty third year He was said to be an anarchist No one at the May of Teck Club took this seriously as he looked quite normal that is to say, he looked slightly dissipated, like the disappointing son of a good English family that he was One of the strengths Spark has is her characterization and this novel is no exception even the minor characters are well drawn and some of Spark s descriptions are really sharp For example the warden of the club who drove a car as she would have driven a man had she possessed one Spark employs the trick of muddling the chronology and she gives away bits of the plot as she goes along, using an omniscient third person Although on the surface the dialogue and plot can appear shallow and rather inconsequential, there are layers of meaning and there is also an impending sense of threat It will come as no surprise to regular Spark readers that farce turns into tragedy The word Slender in the title has a double meaning As well as meaning financially limited, it refers to the toilet window on one of the upper floors The slimmer slender girls are able to get out of this window onto the roof The roof was accessible to the building next door which was being rented by the Americans and amorous assignations were open to those slim enough to get through It also plays a pivotal role at the end of the book The layers of meaning are also fun The religious connections are clear Spark was a Catholic, though not a dogmatic one One of the pivotal characters is Joanna Childe her in initials are no coincidence a female Christ figure an elocution teacher Throughout most of the book you overhear her reciting to her pupils usually The Wreck of the Deutschland, a poem by a priest, Hopkins, about a group of drowning nuns There is a Satan figure not obvious at first the Paul figure is easier to spot The role of the Schiaparelli dress is also fun to contemplate a posh frock owned by one of the girls, but lent out for dates The tragedy towards the end of the book is surprising, but not unexpected However, at the very end of the book during the VJ day celebrations there is an act of violence perpetrated by a man on a woman neither characters in the book that is so shocking and surprising that it hits the reader almost physically Spark is saying ok so we have peace, it s all over, but is the world a better place Will things be better It s a great novel by in my opinion, one of the better writers of the twentieth century It s a snapshot of a bygone time, a spiritual novel with a comic tone that becomes ever bleaker and almost gothic Spark was admired by her contemporaries Evelyn Waugh wrote to her and said Most novelists find there is one kind of book they can write particularly humorous novelists and go on doing it with variations until death You seem to have an inexhaustible source As William Boyd said We are in the hands of a great artist the experience is both unsettling and exhilarating I heartily agree.

  6. says:

    GIRLS of SLENDER MEANS but of PLUMP IMAGINATION This was a world in which jam jars were in shorter supply than glasses and mugs This was London in mid 1945, a London in which its Albert Memorial had managed to dodge a hundred per cent of the bombs, but where many other buildings and their inhabitants had not This was the period in between the fall of Germany, after which the Brits dropped Churchill to embrace Labour, and the dropping of the bombs in Japan This was the time of Coupons, for food, for soap, for clothes.And so we visit this Victorian house with young, and not so young, girls stacked on the various floors They are all wondering about their lives, their looks, their men and the one Schiaparelli dress they all share And the coupons, which is their barter mechanism for exchange of goods and desires and happiness One of the girls practices her poise in perfect balance and equanimity of body and mind and is completely composed because she knows she is beautiful Another engages in writing fake letters to obtain the signatures of famous writers so that she can barter them when she is low on coupons Another gets into a taxi to go around the block and pretend she has been out with her man Another substitutes the declamation of poems for any other emotional experiences The poems named and recited are Moonlit Apples but especially and repeatedly that of The Wreck of the Deutschland, becomes an ostinato that begins with a humorous gait but which eventually takes on an ominous tone And indeed the foreboding that this poem distils will precipitate the tragedy and reveal its parallelism with the girls of slender means This is my third novel by Spark and it was recommended to me after I read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie They both certainly offer many parallels, written just two years apart 1961 and 1963 My third is the very different A Far Cry from Kensington I have been taken again by Spark s language, with those sentences that take a sharp ninety degree turn and almost bolt you out of your chair This time the sudden change in tone and the turnings of the plot also baffled me and left me in awe.If I managed to write a review it is because a brainwave came over me Now I can indulge in some chocolate not too slender and certainly not slendering.

  7. says:

    What an odd story What an odd composition Told mostly in flashbacks, The Girls of Slender Means tells of a group of girls who share lodgings at a home for women under 30 who have limited means of income The story is mostly set during the summer of 1945 between the end of the war in Europe and in the Far East As a snap shot of the time that the story is set in, this books works wonderfully well Spark had a gift for preserving details in the pages of her books that other authors may have have left out in favour of prolonged dialogue or inner monologue Not so with Spark her details bring to life both the characters and the atmosphere that frame the plot Well, the little plot there is There is a plot, but it struck me that the development of the plot seemed to counteract the development of the characters the likeable or human the characters became, the it seemed that the plot of the book tried to make them suffer as in, first Spark got us to care fore the characters and then she throws in our face that the characters were surrounded by a world of horribleness Like a vanity painting that reminds us that nothing lasts and that all snap shots only depict a certain angle While Spark s writing is impressive, I could not help but compare The Girls of Slender Means with the other two books of hers that I have read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and A Far Cry From Kensington The Girls almost read like a sequel to Miss Jean Brodie but I think this is exactly where it didn t work for me it was too similar not to make comparisons and I couldn t enjoy it as an independent story quite as much.

  8. says:

    This is quintessential Spark Though there s no teacher figure only a few impotent spinsters , the action is set in a young women s lodging house that feels like a boarding school a la The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie In the future of the main action, telephone calls informing of a death reminded me of Memento Mori Spark s snideness, sarcasm, black humor, and wit are here, including observations on religion and sex, related in innuendos and also bluntly Repetition and a circling around the characters and events are also here, until we arrive at the gripping climax Though confusing in its beginning, it proved to be a brilliant structuring The climax is what turned a 3 star book for me into a 4 and I think with a reread, that could turn into a 5, especially if I were familiar with the Hopkins poem at its center The title is perfect, expanding into greater meaning as the book, slender though it may be, goes on.

  9. says:

    Long ago in 1945 all the nice people in England were poor, allowing for exceptions.As with every Spark novel, it is the exceptions which make all the difference This is a great novel All Sparkian life is here Odd characters, noble losers, tragic deaths and sinister naughtiness The eponymous girls live in the May of Teck club An up market boarding house for young women too poor to thrive in flats by themselves, too refined to slum it and with a couple of our heroines , one too selfless to survive and one too selfish to care Its not a novel jam packed full with action but of the uncovering of character by one momentous event Everything leads to it and its effect resounds on and on into the hoped for future of peace The novel begins with VE day and ends with VJ day but there is an action observed on the last page of the novel, small in its reporting, unnoticed by all but one character and Spark uses this to remnds us that peace, if it is to mean anything has to be than just an absence of war.

  10. says:

    Great wit, great story, great characters, fascinating era and location I was just reading along, enjoying the story to the fullest, while constantly grinning, when, bam, out of the blue and amidst all that clever and innocent chatter, disaster strikes Ms Spark, I wish you were still alive so I could write you a fan letter

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