Sunday, September 4, 2011

Thoughts: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

Just basing on the cover and the back blurb, I thought The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark would be a quick read, the kind of book I could finish in one sitting. After reading about five pages, though, I realized how completely mistaken I was. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie might be a novella, but it certainly isn’t a lightweight.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie revolves around the eponymous Miss Jean Brodie and the Brodie set—five girls chosen and trained by Miss Brodie to be her friends a.k.a. minions. The book shows how Miss Brodie manipulated them, and, in the end, how she was betrayed by one of the members of her trusted Brodie set.

Before reading this book, I only had a vague idea of what book bloggers mean when they say a book is “cerebral.” The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie completely redefined the term “cerebral” for me, and my brain did mental gymnastics while I was reading this book. There were simple sentences infused with really, really deep meaning—seriously, Grand Canyon deep—and I had to reread a ton of sentences, sometimes even entire pages. There are really subtle clues that you have to notice, so the rest of the story makes sense.

If I had to pick a word to describe Muriel Spark’s writing style, I’d pick subtle. She’s a genius when it comes to foreshadowing, and it’s like she’s dangling the key to the mystery in your face. Miss Brodie’s betrayer is pretty easy to spot (SPOILER: Only one girl in the Brodie set is intelligent enough to pull off the “betrayal.”), but it was hard to figure out how she was going to do it.

Overall, I want to reread The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, because a couple of vital points might have flown right past my head. I just didn’t get what the hype was all about, but I have a feeling a second reading might clear that up for me.

Rating: 3/5

12 comments:

Kate said...

Ooo...had to stop reading at the spoiler alert. This book has been on my radar for awhile and I haven't gotten around to it yet...will check back when I do!

Sam said...

I've heard of this one but not wanted to read it until now. I love books that are subtle and make you think. Thanks for the recommendation :)

Red said...

I wasn't a fan of this one but I'm glad you enjoyed it. There's something for everyone!

Jillian said...

Hm, this one sounds interesting. I never knew what it was about...

(Hope you're well, Darlyn!) :-)

mooderino said...

Pretty good movie too.

mood

Zibilee said...

I had thought that I owned this book, but checking back it seems that I don't. I have to admit that this one sounds interesting and intense and like something that my brain would enjoy chewing on. Very nice review on this one.

Audra said...

Great review -- you perfectly articulated what reading this book is like! I loved it, even though I think much of what she wrote went over my head. It def begs a reread -- someday, someday!

Allie said...

I kind of felt the same way when I finished this one. I didn't see where it was so excellent and inspiring, but maybe a reread will clear it up for me!

Alice said...

I reeally liked maybe the first half, and then when she got involved in relationships it totally deteriorated for me. It just got too murky or...something. BUT Muriel Spark's written a lot, and I have liked some of her other stuff. The Girls of Slender Means was pretty good (and relevant...) and I absolutely loved The Abbess of Crewe.

reviewsbylola said...

I read this one within the past year or so and I have to admit I was severely disappointed.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

That just about sums up my feelings on this book. The characters were interesting, but maybe it was too subtle for me.

Loraine said...

That was a nice review! Here's mine if you don't mind: http://lorxiebookreviews.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-prime-of-miss-jean-brodie-by-muriel.html

Thanks and have a nice day! :D

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