Sunday, September 4, 2011
Thoughts: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
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.