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The Mandelbaum Gate Paperback – November 29, 2001

7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

''Takes the breath away . . . Pure adventure . . . Suspense as artfully maintained as anything by Graham Greene.'' --New Republic

''[Narrator- Davidson] achieve[s] successful transitions through deliberate pauses and changes of voice. Thus, we're able to follow the many tangents the author uses to enrich the story and our listening pleasure.'' --AudioFile

''English-accented Frederick Davidson turns in a memorable performance.'' --Library Journal --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

MURIEL SPARK (1918-2006), was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. She is the author of over twenty novels as well as critical biographies, radio plays, children's books, poetry, and short-story collections. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1993 and Commendeur des Arts et des Lettres in 1996. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Welcome Rain Publishers (November 29, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566492262
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566492263
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,982,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Muriel Spark (1918-2006) was a prolific Scottish novelist, short story writer, and poet whose darkly comedic voice made her one of the most distinctive writers of the twentieth century. Spark grew up in Edinburgh and worked as a department store secretary, writer for trade magazines, and literary editor before publishing her first novel in 1957. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), considered her masterpiece, was made into a stage play, a TV series, and a film. Spark became a Dame of the British Empire in 1993.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Edward J. Doran on April 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
This novel is one of Spark's best. I first read it as a teenager and couldn't put it down. It takes place amidst the political turmoil of the Middle East in the early 1960s and the trial of Adolph Eichmann in Jerusalem. It is filled with intrigue and with almost too many things happening as Barbara Vaughan, an English spinster of partly Jewish heritage, travels to the Holy Land to be with her boyfriend, an archaeologist working in Jordan on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Crossing from Israel to Jordan she is mistaken for a spy and must go undercover as a muslim woman covered from head to toe. Check out the original review by Malcolm Bradbury in the New Yorker for more details.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Catspec on January 6, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Muriel Spark is a gem. Although I don't love all of her work, this is one that I do love. Still timely, although the gate is now not a crossing, and unfortunately things have probably gotten worse, the story resonates with the problems of the region just as it did when written. Perhaps a bit too much for some readers, this is not a light weight travel novel, nor a sentimental novel of love and barriers to love. It is a novel of religious feeling, political intrigue, and personal choices that was absorbing back when I first read it years ago, and last month when I bought and read the Kindle edition. I highly recommend it for thoughtful readers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lorelie on January 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Muriel Spark can be a little too sardonically mean for my taste, but in this novel her characters are treated more gently than usual, in spite of the backdrop of Israel and Jordan, Jews and Arabs. I found it very funny, actually laughing out loud sometimes. All the characters are vibrant and get themselves into all sorts of scrapes. At first, the character Freddy, with his bread and butter poems, can be a bit hard to take, but stick with it. Freddy and his circle of contacts and predicaments will grow on you quickly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Buzalka on May 21, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
The Mandelbaum Gate (1965) may have been Muriel Spark's best novel to that point in her career, better than the more famous The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Memento Mori or The Girls of Slender Means, all of which are also excellent, by the way. What vaults Mandelbaum over those other works in my estimation is its much greater length and complexity, as it deals not only with the conflicts and relationships of individual characters but also of nations, in this case, Israel and Jordan (and, tangentially, Great Britain).

Set in divided pre-Six Day War Jerusalem (the Mandelbaum Gate was a kind of Checkpoint Charlie in the middle of the city), the book deals with the issues surrounding the disappearance of a 38-year old half-Jewish British spinster in Jordan, the amnesia of a low-level British consulate functionary who might hold the key to her disappearance and the flexible loyalties of a group of natives of the region with whom these two principals interact.

Rather than telling the story straight, Spark jumps around in the timeline, slowly filling in the different pieces of the puzzle, an approach that strengthens the book's narrative interest. The rather intricate plot, which has many moving parts, does rely on a few somewhat far-fetched coincidences but, rather than being distracting, they actually strengthen the narrative.

In some ways Mandelbaum Gate reminded me of Lawrence Durrell's Justine, another non-linear novel from an English writer set in the region (in that case, Egypt) with a polyglot cast of characters where the larger political and cultural situation was a major component of the story (in fact, readers who liked Mandelbaum Gate might want to try Justine and the other three books of Durrell's Alexandria Quartet).

The Mandelbaum Gate is an underappreciated masterpiece.
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