Monday, June 28, 2010

Book 46: Finished.

I get really upset when I have high expectations for a book and then it does absolutely nothing for me. I mean, I build these books up to be amazingly beautiful only to find that I am bored and just don't get the hype.

That is the case for me with Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Perhaps I am just in a book funk recently, but this little novella did nothing for me. I took nothing away from my reading and I was super disappointed in what I thought was going to be a great book.

The story follows a group of girls, the Brodie set, who are highly influenced by their teacher (Miss Brodie). The story is not told linearly, but rather as reflections and memories. It tells of how the girls were influenced and changed by the unorthodox teachings of Miss Brodie and how ultimately, one of them betrayed her.

Perhaps it was the manner of telling the story, and the way Spark set it up, but nothing about her characters or the plot had any effect on me. I was bored with Miss Brodie and the girls. I felt as if the characters were one dimensional and I was so annoyed that I read the book in one sitting, hoping to pull some kind of value from it.

I ended up being angry when I closed it, and I felt extremely let down. Maybe it was a combination of a bad mood and being tired, but I just didn't get it. Sometimes a book just doesn't work for me and I think that was the case here. Moreover, I couldn't find anything in this slim volume to find it up to the level of some of the other things I have been reading recently. Maybe it is not fair to compare this to something like Gone with the Wind or As I Lay Dying, both of which had a profound impact on me.

In any case, I didn't take anything away from this novel, which is a huge shame. That has only happened two other times so far in this process (The Stranger by Albert Camus and Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck), but it is disheartening all the same.

Has anyone else read this? What were your thoughts?


  1. I haven't read this one, but I've been fairly unimpressed with the other Muriel Spark I've read. I have Aiding and Abetting on my shelf so I'll try that one, but if it doens't work out, I'm just going to let her go.

  2. Meh, I thought it was craps. It just seemed like a story about a silly, self-centered teacher and her silly students. While I don't need a likable protagonist to enjoy a novel, it certainly would have helped here.

  3. I haven't read it, but I thought that it would be good. What a shame you were disappointed. There is nothing worse than that. Better luck on the next book

  4. Oh, that's so sad! I LOVED this book. But then I'd seen the movie before so I kind of knew what it was, and that also meant I waited until I was in the right mood for it. I found it sharp and clever and biting. But everyone can't like everything! Hope you like your next one.

  5. I read this last year and was really disappointed. I didn't like the characters or the way Brodie manipulated her students. Glad I'm not alone.

  6. I had mixed feelings about this one. I felt like her writing was a bit lazy, like she just sat down and wrote out a story in an afternoon and sent it off. But something kept me from out and out disliking it. I reviewed it here if you're interested my further ramblings on it:

  7. I didn't really care for this one either (here's my review, though it is nicer than I remember it being: so don't feel bad!