2009. 41. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

“The boys, as they talked to the girls from Marcia Blaine School, stood on the far side of the building holding the handlebars, which established a protective fence of bicycle between the sexes, and the impression that at any moment the boys were likely to be away.”

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark

      I first read this book in high school, and have re-read it at least once, and I saw a killer version done as a play when I lived in London in college (starring Fiona Shaw, also know as Harry Potter’s aunt).  And, of course, there is the fabulous film starring Maggie Smith, which is just divine (as Miss Brodie herself would say).  And despite all this familiarity with the story, when I re-read the novel I both totally enjoyed it and got something new out of it too.  So let me tell you, while I might criticize some of the entries on the Modern Library Top 100 list, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, to my mind absolutely deserves a spot on the list.  In 187 spare pages Spark manages not only to create one of the greatest characters in the English language, the devastating, fascinating monster that is Jean Brodie, but to show us how she came to power and how she was destroyed.  Jean Brodie is a tyrant - using her students to build up her mystique - and in her prime she runs rampant over them.  But when one of her famed Brodie set decides Miss Brodie has gone too far, she decides she must be betrayed and destroyed.  

      God - what a novel.  Not a word is wasted.  Spark’s prose could etch glass.  I adored it. 


Date/Place Completed: April 2009; D.C.

Categories: Fiction, Modern Library Top 100, Book Resolutions, Commuting Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017