Muriel Spark Reading Week (23-29 April)

I was so thrilled with all your responses when I suggested Muriel
Spark Reading Week
the other day – although I was pretty sure I was onto a winner when
the idea struck me, since Spark seems so perfect for this sort of blog
readlong.  Two comments especially delighted me – Harriet‘s offer to be
co-host, and Thomas‘s offer to make us a badge to accompany the Reading
Week, which I proudly unveil below.  Didn’t he do a fantastic job? 
Thanks very much, Thomas!
 As you can see from
the badge, we’ve decided upon dates: 23rd-29th April.  That should give
you plenty of time to dig out a Spark novel or two…
As
for
the week itself, we don’t really have any rules and regulations.  Just
read one or more books by Muriel Spark (they’re very short!), let us
know when you have, and at the end of the week we’ll post a round-up of
everyone’s reviews.  Or, of course, be inventive!  Posts about film
adaptations, poetry, Spark’s life or critical responses to Spark are all
very welcome.
During the week, Harriet and I
will be posting on alternate days – our own reviews, but also places
where discussion about Spark can take place (perhaps especially for
those who want to join in but don’t write blogs themselves.)  
What
I’d really love is if we all, between us, managed to write about all 22
of Spark’s novels.  That might be something of a pipe-dream… and of
course you can read whatever you want, but I’d personally love it if you
sought out something a little more unusual.  Two dozen reviews
of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie would be fun, but it would be even
more fun if we left no Spark unturned…

Over
to you!  Harriet and I would love you to spread the word – please do use
Thomas’ wonderful badge, and encourage other readers to join in Muriel
Spark Reading Week (and pop a link to you post in the comments, if you
like).  Let me know if you have any idea yet which Spark book you’ll be reading… I’m already very excited about it all – I hope you are too!

69 thoughts on “Muriel Spark Reading Week (23-29 April)

  • February 13, 2012 at 12:28 am
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    I completely missed the initial post suggesting this but I love the idea and I'd love to participate (and I'll certainly look forward to getting to use that lovely badge Thomas created). I've only read four or five of Spark's novels so I'm excited to try something new for the Reading Week!

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    • February 13, 2012 at 11:20 am
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      Brilliant! (Which four or five have you read, out of interest?)

      Reply
  • February 13, 2012 at 2:19 am
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    Good to see all the interest in this one. I'm at the mercy of my public library and they seem to have only a very few that I've never heard of, and the ubiquitous Prime. Aiding and Abetting or Symposium will probably have to be my choice(s) for the reading. I like the sound of Momento Mori so I may splurge and purchase a copy. I'm completely new to Spark by the way. But I'm ready to go and will put up the button and tweet or retweet the reading when I can. Looking forward to it. Thank you.

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    • February 13, 2012 at 11:21 am
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      I haven't read Aiding and Abetting or Symposium (although I think I have both of them) so they would definitely be interesting to hear more about. Memento Mori was surreally great – a very strange book, with a very Spark-ian idea at the centre. Thanks for joining in!

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  • February 13, 2012 at 3:44 am
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    Lovely idea, Simon. I've posted about it & linked to you & Harriet. Thomas's badge is gorgeous. I'll be reading her book on Emily Bronte – just to be different. First published in 1960 but my copy is the 1980s reprint. I haven't read it since then so I look forward to seeing what I think now.

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    • February 13, 2012 at 11:22 am
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      Thanks Lyn! And how lovely that you can join in with a book so much in your area of interest.

      Isn't Thomas's badge brilliant? We're very lucky to have his help.

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  • February 13, 2012 at 10:14 am
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    I'm excited too — and I've just ordered a copy of her collected poems so that will be one of my contributions during the week. Just to be different, like Lyn!

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    • February 13, 2012 at 11:22 am
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      Perfect! I, as you can imagine, won't be reading her poetry… but I would like to read her autobiography, Curriculum Vitae.

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  • February 13, 2012 at 10:14 am
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    I have copies of Robinson and The Go Away Bird sitting on my shelves and will try to read and review both. A couple of Muriel Spark novels should be a good mix with Proust, which I am currently reading.
    It might be an idea to put up a list of all her books – and then everyone could see the ones that were not yet being reviewed?
    I reviewed The Hothouse by the East River last year if anyone wants a sense of it – http://theknockingshop.blogspot.com/2011/08/hothouse-by-east-river.html

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    • February 13, 2012 at 11:23 am
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      Great idea, Séamus, I'll post a list when I start the week, and maybe update it (depending on how many reviews appear, and how much work it turns out to be to run!)

      The Go Away Bird is short stories, is it not? I've not read any of her short stories, but I can imagine they'd be a really interesting format for her.

      I will go and see your review of Hothouse – one of the few Spark novels I don't yet own.

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  • February 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm
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    My library only has 3 of her books, Prime…, Aiding and Abetting, and The Finishing School. Having never read her, I'm not sure where to start? Should I go with one of these, or try the used bookstore? Love the button! Thomas always does such a good job on those things.

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    • February 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm
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      Well, the only one of those I've read is Prime, so selfishly I'd love you to read one of the other two and tell us about it! In terms of the ones I've read, I think you might actually enjoy Prime most… but if you want to be a bit braver, with more surreal Spark, then Memento Mori could be a good one to try.

      Reply
    • February 14, 2012 at 7:07 pm
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      All of those are good. Of course Prime is the masterpiece. Aiding and Abetting is quirky like so many Spark novels. And The Finishing School probably feels the most current (and might even be one of her last) and was quite enjoyable.

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    • February 17, 2012 at 6:07 pm
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      I feel such a fraud, running this week when I know so little about Spark! But I make up for in enthusiasm what I lack in knowledge…

      Reply
  • February 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm
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    My library has a copy of A Far Cry from Kensington which sounds super appealing to me but I also have Spark's short story collection at home. Either way, it's going to be a fun-filled week and what a gorgeous button…well done, Thomas!

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    • February 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm
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      A Far Cry is one of the ones I have my eye on.. and I think it's one of the ones Harriet is intending to read too. Thrilled to have you on board, Darlene, and thanks for putting the badge up on your blog!

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    • February 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm
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      Hurrah! Looking through your blog, I see you've read one of the ones I'm determined to read this time – Ballad of Peckham Rye. And you loved it, so I'm excited!

      It's just struck me… I think you can see a link between Spark and Magnus Mills… thoughts?

      Reply
  • February 13, 2012 at 2:06 pm
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    I am a partner at a publishing house called The Equilateral Beast, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina (www.labestiaequilatera.com).
    Our idea is to publish and take abroad the Argentinean literature we are proud of, as well as to translate into Spanish foreign authors we love to read.

    We have published some books by Muriel Spark, "Memento Mori", Aiding and Abetting, Loitering with intent, and in the near future, "Far from Kensington" Muriel is our principal author, our identity as a publishing house.
    "Muriel Spark week" is a lovely idea that we support.
    Sincerily,
    Diego D'Onofrio
    http://www.labestiaequialtera.com

    Reply
    • February 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm
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      Hi Diego – thank you so much for commenting, how wonderful that you've provided Spanish readers with Spark's novels – including my favourite, Loitering With Intent. Thanks for your support for Muriel Spark Reading Week :)

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  • February 13, 2012 at 5:52 pm
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    Count me in, too, Simon. I've read several Muriel Spark novels in the past and have a few more in the queue, so it would be a good incentive to dust them off… but I do fear that one of them is The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie!

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    • February 13, 2012 at 11:30 pm
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      Haha, that's fine, Kim! After all, I read Hotel du Lac for Brookner week. I'd just love if we managed to read all 22 novels between us…
      Great to have you playing along!

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  • February 13, 2012 at 8:42 pm
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    I shall join in on this one Simon, I think I have two of her out of print novels which I 'borrowed' off my mother, I shall see if I can find them in the carnage of my new accomodation, a week and I have as yet to unpack. Oops.

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    • February 13, 2012 at 11:31 pm
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      Great! You are partly responsible for my coming back to Spark, so I'm delighted that you'll be joining in. Good luck finding them in the unpacking(!)

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  • February 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm
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    I own about 13 of Spark's books, but the only ones I haven't read are Reality and Dreams, one of her last novels, and The Comforters, her first. (In addition, the university library has quite a large number of her books, but I think I've read them all.) Both of those are a little more obscure, I think. I plan on reading The Comforters for sure – we'll see if time permits me to read both. And perhaps to watch The Driver's Seat film with Ms. Taylor. ;)

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    • February 13, 2012 at 11:31 pm
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      Reality and Dream is one of the ones I'm keen to read during MSRW – indeed, it's been by my bedside for several months already.

      And the film, of course of course!

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  • February 13, 2012 at 9:22 pm
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    I'll see what I can find to join in with, Simon – I've been meaning to read more Spark for years!

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    • February 13, 2012 at 11:32 pm
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      I'd so love to read your thoughts on Spark's novels, Rachel – hope you manage to join in! :)

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  • February 14, 2012 at 4:13 am
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    That's a really lovely badge by Thomas! I've already put it up, and really looking forward to that week. Still undecided on reading which of her works to 'spark' off the event. Probably a couple of short stories and a novel proper. Highly inclined towards Loitering With Intent. :)

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    • February 14, 2012 at 11:51 am
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      Isn't it lovely?
      And hurrah for Loitering With Intent ;) I do hope you enjoy it!

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    • February 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm
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      Sounds like a plan! I've not re-read any yet – probably won't this time around, as there are so many on my shelves – but I would love to re-read the ones I didn't originally like very much.

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  • February 14, 2012 at 11:33 pm
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    I'm eyeing Territorial Rights on Amazon right now and wondering if anyone has read it?

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  • February 15, 2012 at 8:27 pm
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    I've just acquired A Far Cry From Kensington, so will have that for my S author in my alpha authors challenge.
    Kate

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    • February 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm
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      Brilliant! Isn't it nice when a book can correspond to two different challenges at once?

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  • February 16, 2012 at 8:26 am
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    I just left a coment on your first post. I will join you as well.I saw it on Danielle's blog and will post on it this weekend, linking to this post as this has the dates.

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  • February 17, 2012 at 8:09 am
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    I have never read any Muriel Spark, which I am ashamed to say – especially after living in Scotland for a year, where it seemed everyone and there mother had read her – so I'm looking forward to this challenge to be my inspiration!

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    • February 17, 2012 at 6:06 pm
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      I'm always a little annoyed to see her shelved under Scottish authors in Scottish bookshops, just because there doesn't seem to be anything distinctly Scottish about her writing (I don't remember – apart from Miss Jean B, of course – Scottish characters and settings.) Still, if it makes the good people of Scotland more keen to read her, than more power to them!

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    • February 19, 2012 at 7:47 pm
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      Well, she was born in Edinburgh. I do find it fascinating how authors are catagorized – Beckett being a great example, being claimed by both the French and the Irish.

      Unfortunately, what I found was that my Scottish friends often associated her with stigma of bad high school English classes, most of them having been forced to read The Prime of Ms. Jean Brodie by some loathed teacher.

      Here in the US that's usually the role that J.D. Salinger plays (among others), so I understand. But at the same time the fact that one person or class can ruin a person's experience with an author always makes me feel a little sad.

      Reply
  • February 28, 2012 at 4:33 pm
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    I'd like to join in as well and have just read Not to Disturb. This novella is set in Switzerland with the entire action taking place over the course of one night extending into the next morning. I'll take a look at what else is in the catalog in the New York City public library, though sadly my local branch had nothing by Ms. Spark!

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    • April 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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      Such a strange novel, isn't it! And shame on your local branch… tut tut.

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  • March 4, 2012 at 5:45 am
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    Hi Simon, I just finished reading M Spark's first novel, The Comforters and will be putting a review of it up on my blog TravellinPenguin.blogspot.com very soon. If you want any thoughts from it feel free to help yourself. Should be interesting to read about her other books during that week. Have finished it early as have company coming from overseas the week you are running the MS week. Cheers from Tasmania

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    • April 16, 2012 at 1:19 pm
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      Thanks for participating, Pam! That's one of the ones I'd love to read soon.

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  • March 23, 2012 at 11:34 am
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    Count me in. In the Driving Seat one of my all time favourite novels. *shudders*
    @wearyhousewife

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    • April 16, 2012 at 1:20 pm
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      Oh, Spark can definitely give a shudder at times, can't she! Thanks for taking part :)

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  • March 31, 2012 at 6:39 pm
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    Love Muriel, will definitely join in, will go and check out her list on Wiki.
    thanks for sharing, and for the badge, it's excellent
    martine

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    • April 16, 2012 at 1:20 pm
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      Brilliant, Martine! And isn't the badge great? Thomas @ My Porch made it for us.

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  • April 5, 2012 at 1:43 am
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    Sure, I'm down. I happened to recently pick up a bunch of some old penguin editions of various titles by her and can't wait to read 'em.

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  • April 9, 2012 at 11:35 am
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    Just discovered your lovely blog via the Virago Reading Group on Library Thing, Simon, and as I just picked up a gorgeous old Penguin copy of Memento Mori in a local charity bookshop I shall save this for the Muriel weeek!

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    • April 16, 2012 at 1:21 pm
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      Perfect! That's a great introduction to Muriel Spark. (And welcome!)

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  • April 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm
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    This sounds great – I've been meaning to try Muriel Spark for ages so this will spur me on. I've got The Public Image, The Driver's Seat and Loitering with Intent ready for the week, with Prime and Far Cry from Kensington on standby just in case I read them really quickly! I'm looking forward to it. Here's my post:

    http://www.pageplucker.com/2012/04/muriel-spark-reading-week.html

    Reply
    • April 16, 2012 at 1:23 pm
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      Great! I was especially hoping that people new to Spark would participate, so you'd put a big smile on my face – especially with such a fab selection to read.

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  • April 15, 2012 at 8:34 pm
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    I'd like to join in the fun too! I'd never read any of her books until I saw this post, figured if there was going to be a week for her they must be something I should check out. I just finished Loitering with Intent and really enjoyed it! I'm going to try and read at least one more and post them all during the week. I've got volume two of her novels, The girls of slender means, the abbess of crewe and the bachelors are all in here and no one has mentioned reading them that I've seen. I'd love to help you get closer to the goal of all 22 of them read so if there is one I should aim for next of those let me know!

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    • April 16, 2012 at 1:23 pm
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      Hurrah! I'd love to know about The Bachelors, so I've got my fingers crossed that you'll pick that one…

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  • April 26, 2012 at 1:20 pm
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    Here I am with *Loitering with Intent* firmly in my brain and blood. I loved it and will be back for more! To this point I had read only Spark's biography of Mary Shelley – also wonderful. Thank you for making this happen with me now!

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    • April 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm
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      I'm so pleased! It's still my favourite – I'm sure you'll find lots more ideas across the blogosphere of Sparks to read next…!

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  • April 26, 2012 at 1:22 pm
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    I just finished *Loitering with Intent* too and am very happy to have it in my story bank. The only other Spark I had read was her biography of Mary Shelley – wonderful, but not the same thing at all. Thank you for this week that pushed me firmly into the Muriel Spark Readers!

    Reply

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