Thursday, May 26, 2005

24: Slender book

Muriel Spark could sure teach modern novelists a thing or two about the soul of wit. The Girls of Slender Means is only a short book, less than 200 pages, but it contains a whole world, a whole social whirl of World War Two and the Blitz and the freedom that young women were beginning to experience and the constraints there still were upon them and their movements and their expectations for the future.

There is a cosiness and a sisterhood here, as well as sadness, wasted potential, seething jealousy, sexual tension. And there's a huge tragedy in the offing.

Somehow the tragic events that are ominously foreshadowed throughout the book and then revealed at the end are not really necessary to give this snapshot of young women living in a "club" for girls of slender means a doomed aura, but the tragedy is there anyway. It's pretty guessable and slightly disappointing, but the rest of the book is perfectly judged and timed.

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