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The Girls of Slender Means (New Directions Classic) Paperback – April 17, 1998
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From The New Yorker
Top Customer Reviews
a few of the girls stand out, but their tales are so intermingled, & their lives so distantly described that i had a hard time caring. but as a fan of muriel spark's work, i kept at it, and was well paid off by the poignant & shocking ending.
spark did quite the job of showing the reader wartime london- with its' almost purposeful frivolities, willfullness to get on, and its' crushing realities.
i recommend it to fans of her work. i suggest starting with the 'prime of miss jean brodie' if you've had no prior introduction.
This book is written in many characters points of view, and at first I had trouble keeping up with who was who. The book also jumps from past to present, and it takes a second to figure out which year you are in. The ending of this book was a little shocking, which makes it worth reading. This is a very short novel; however the writing style makes it a little harder to read. Muriel Spark throws in poetry at random places, and repeats it over and over (one of the girls is teaching elocution), which seems to halt the story as much as her jumping from viewpoint and time period.
I wouldn't really recommend this book to anyone, but I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading it either. I don't regret reading this book, but I definitely won't read it again.
Please see more of my reviews at [...]
Spark's obscure and repeated flashbacks--or more accurately, "flashfronts," if there is such a thing--suddenly become completely clear at the end. The finale is tragic and shocking, and yet Spark has actually provided plenty of foreshadowing without the reader realizing it (much like real life, sometimes!).
The whole point of the work seems to have been lost on some of the reviewers here, and it's true that it takes some pondering once you've read the last page and closed the book. The message seems to be that how we live and act in everyday, mundane affairs may seem all well and good; but our response to genuine emergency and tragedy, "when the rubber meets the road," is what reveals the sort of person each of us really is. Only when tested by catastrophe can we, and those around us, see how we measure up--and the results of the test can be surprising even to ourselves! It's amazing that Spark could get this across in so few pages, and it's sad that not everybody seems to get it.
Several people have commented that the beginning of the book is slow and that they were knocked out by the ending. I had the opposite reaction: the beginning, with its incredibly evocative portrait of London in 1945, fascinated me. The ending began to lose my interest a bit, though I can't reveal why without giving anything away.
Still, all told, a highly recommended work.
One word of caution, though: the Kindle edition is terrible, replete as it is with typos. I make a point when reading Kindle books to report content errors, and I had to do it dozens and dozens in this very short book. I hope New Directions makes the necessary corrections (some publishers seem to ignore them), because it was incredibly frustrating to run into mistakes page after page - really broke my reading flow.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This short novel set in London during and after the Second World War excels at creating interest without wasting words. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Adam Frey
Muriel Spark's short 1963 novel The Girls of Slender Means offers both a philosophical punch and a wonderful description of life in England just as the Second World War was coming... Read morePublished 21 months ago by M. Buzalka
I've always wanted to read this author and this is my first book of hers. I wasn't overly impressed, found it slow going for the majority. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Nicola Mansfield
A slender book, but deft and haunting. A feminist goodread.Published on September 27, 2014 by E. Jane Hedley
This book, it seemed as I read, wanted me to think it frivolous. Oh, what a cute, slim little thing, chronicling the lives and loves of “the girls of slender means,”... Read more
Lightweight and boring besides. What was the point of this novel? I always expect Spark to do better. Don't understand why her reputation is so high. Read morePublished on November 22, 2013 by Evalyn F. Segal