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Loitering with Intent [Paperback]

Muriel Spark
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Jun 1995
Sir Quentin Oliver steals the manuscript of Fleur Talbot's novel, "Warrender Chase". What sinister use will he make of it? Or, more tantalizing still, what if fiction were to overpower trust and Fleur's novel appropriate him?

Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (29 Jun 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140179623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140179620
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,671,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


The most gloriously entertaining novel since THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE (A.N. Wilson, SPECTATOR)

I read this book in a delirium of delight...robust and full-bodied, a wise and mature work, and a brilliantly mischievous one (NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW)

Unflagging wit and inventiveness (TIME MAGAZINE)

This is Muriel Spark in the splendid form of those marvellous and influential novels of her earlier career (THE TIMES) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

This extremely clever novel sees life imitating art and art imitating life. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
One day in the middle of the twentieth century I sat in an old graveyard which had not yet been demolished, in the Kensington area of London, when a young policeman stepped off the path and came over to me. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bright Spark 15 May 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fleur Talbot lives on what she'd probably call the grimy fringes of literary London in the early 50s. It reeks with atmosphere - eating sardines in a bedsit, writing poetry in a graveyard, having a brief affair with a married man who then goes off with another man. Fleur becomes close (and, we discover, lifelong) friends with her lover's wife. But this is just incidental. Or is it? In a Spark novel, you never know where you are. Information is dished out parsimoniously, and apparently out of sequence. Life imitates art, art imitates life. Fleur takes a job with a rickety outfit called the Autobiographical Association. She becomes convinced that the man who runs it, Sir Oliver Quentin, has a long term plan to blackmail the members, who include (of course) a defrocked priest and an aging minor aristocrat nicknamed "Bucks" (her real name's Bernice). Fleur begins to feel that she is inventing everyone she knows as her novel takes shape. Skullduggery ensues as Sir Oliver tries to get her novel suppressed (it gives away his evil plans). There's an awful moment (you saw it coming) when Fleur finds that all copies of her novel have disappeared. Who triumphs in the end? Well, it's Fleur herself telling the story.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spark sure has some spark! 21 Jan 2000
By A Customer
'Loitering with Intent' is enchanting. From the very first page the reader will appreciate Spark's keen, creative ability in being able to draw a first-person narrator who is almost faultless, with a strong, contemporary, female voice. Name: Fleur Talbot.
It is a quality rare in most other books with a strong, modern, singular voice -- demonstrated by few other contemporary authors, certainly Greene and Murdoch.
The astute narration ensures great storytelling with unforeseen, complicated twists -- a combination of who-dunnits, what-ifs? and how-on-earths? -- that will keep the reader continuously entertained.
Furthermore, it offers excellent insight into the mind of a writer, as Spark creates a literary protagonist. Fleur's observations are highly witty, intelligent and perceptive, creating real, mildly-ridiculous characters. As we warm to Fleur's vivacity we can't help but share in her mocking.
The parallels of art (literature) to life is a prominent and cleverly developed theme. What is Spark saying? As life starts to dangerously imitate art, does Spark reiterate her character's belief that the two are entirely intertwined; life is not life without art?
Similarly, the relationship between life and religion is then considered (the subtle subtext of the novel), adding a dimension to the tale, whilst remaining highly, and surprisingly, contemporary).
In fact it is the subtleties of the novel that should enthuse the reader, always conveyed with wit and half-explored satire, demanding the participation of the reader's own imagination.
We leave the novel with the conviction that Fleur is infallible. Her triumph becomes our triumph.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Got The Intent, I Just Got Lost A Bit Too 12 Aug 2010
By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Fleur Talbot is the narrator of `Loitering With Intent' a wannabe author who is madly involve with books and the world that surrounds them. If that wasn't instantly going to endear me to a narrator then I don't know what would. When a job comes up `on the grubby edge of the literary world' working for the Autobiographical Association she takes it and feels like this could be the perfect job in the right industry and could help her get further in her goal to have her debut novel Warrender Chase published.

There are two things however that Fleur doesn't count on. One was what a strange group of people the Autobiographical Association are and just how difficult, pompous and ruthless her boss Sir Quentin Oliver is. The other is that sometimes life really does imitate art (something I think Muriel Spark was really focused on discussing in this book) as the storylines, character traits and even dialogue of her book start to appear in her work life and then all around her.

I have to admit it's the last bit that I struggled with. I was really enjoying Fleur's story, I loved the crazy and egomaniac characters we were meeting within the Autobiographical Association. Characters are Spark's forte so I knew I would love all of them now matter how vile, in fact sometimes with Spark the crazier the better. I thought the character of `Dottie' a true Sparkian (!?!) English Rose with thorns was brilliant, the fact she was Fleur's lovers wife and yet they were sort of friends and enemies all at once was written brilliantly and made for some great scenes and devious goings on. I especially loved Sir Quentin's mother the wickedly funny Lady Edwina who threw herself into every scene which she could and stole the show.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 13 April 2009
Although I like Muriel Spark's novels it has always been `The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' that has always stood out for me, indeed it is one of my all time favourite books. I have never read anything of hers that has seemed to rival that story in any way - until now.

Fleur Talbot is writing her first novel when she takes a job with Sir Quentin Oliver, the founder and president of the Autobiographical Association. As Fleur enters this new world of weird and wonderful people she starts to see that they in many ways resemble the characters in her novel. When Sir Quentin arranges to have her novel stolen Fleur sees things take on a more sinister turn. With passages of her work appearing in the unpublished autobiographies of the members of the Autobiographical Association Fleur needs to take drastic action.

Darkly funny with a slight whiff of the gothic, Muriel Spark's novel can be read on so many different levels and is a true joy to read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Post war humour .
It is of its time and it is witty but a bit arch and contrived but suspect that was the intention.. Admirable for its literary tricks and easy to read but not one of my favourites. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dragon wolf
4.0 out of 5 stars Review
A witty, sharp narrative. Paced with annoyingly good characterisation and acute observation. Oh that books like this were still in demand.
Published 11 months ago by A. Lauppe-Dunbar
5.0 out of 5 stars Loitering with inimitable wit and perception
My favourite Muriel Spark novel to date (though I've yet to read her most famous 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie'). Read more
Published 22 months ago by Wobbly Wellies
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite
Fleur Talbot, star of Loitering with Intent, is something of a typical Sparkian heroine. Young, single, living in a bedsit in 1950s London, she aspires to be a writer but when, to... Read more
Published on 25 May 2012 by T. Bently
3.0 out of 5 stars Loitering with Intent
Entertaining but not as pleasant an experience as Prime of Miss Jean Brodie for me anyway.
Published on 18 Oct 2010 by Lin
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab book, fab introduction by Mark Lawson
Others have reviewed the book itself, but just to point out that this edition's introduction by Mark Lawson is very good and runs to seven and a half pages, taking in Jacques... Read more
Published on 23 May 2009 by emma who reads a lot
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this novel
I loved the blurring of the boundaries between fiction and 'real life.' The story is told by an author who finds that what she writes begins to happen. Read more
Published on 15 Feb 2009 by Susan E. Kersley
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Tis a Pity
I wholeheartedly agree with the praise expressed by other reviewers here. It's good have to have this superb little masterpiece back in print. Read more
Published on 18 Nov 2007 by Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars The Story of One’s Life
There is a sense of the autobiographical in this novel which in fact is quite appropriate when one considers the actual pivot around which the whole plot revolves. Read more
Published on 10 Aug 2003 by Manthos A. Mattheou
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