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Memento Mori [Audio CD]

Muriel Spark , Nadia May
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
RRP: £33.98
Price: £33.66 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Sep 2003
Penguin Decades bring you the novels that helped shape modern Britain. When they were published, some were bestsellers, some were considered scandalous, and others were simply misunderstood. All represent their time and helped define their generation, while today each is considered a landmark work of storytelling. Muriel Spark’s Memento Mori, published in 1959, is among the finest novels by one of the most witty and incisive British writers of recent times. It tells the acidly funny story of a group of elderly people who start to receive threatening phone calls telling them ‘Remember, you must die’ – opening up dark secrets, intrigues, duplicity and tragedy from their pasts.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks (1 Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786191279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786191277
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 1.7 x 0.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,750,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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There is a Waugh-like brilliance to this novel, in the easy economical narrative, the continuous invention producing a series of surprises, the well-cut dialogue, the controlled tone. This last is the most remarkable of Miss Spark's achievements. Nothing is forced, least of all the humour (V. S. Naipaul, NEW STATESMAN)

I am reading a trio of novels by Muriel Spark, a marvelously witty English writer, one of the few lady writers I like to read. Her best, I think, is Memento Mori, which is chillingly brilliant (Tennessee Williams)

This funny and macabre book has delighted me as much as any novel that I have read since the war (Graham Greene)

A brilliant and singularly gruesome achchievement (Evelyn Waugh) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A brilliant, daring and darkly funny novel by Muriel Spark, 'mistress of the highest high comedy' (The Times) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
Dame Lettie Colston refilled her fountain pen and continued her letter: One of these days I hope you will write as brilliantly on a happier theme. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Muriel Spark reminds us that we all must die. Read this book and you will not forget this, unlike her septugenarian and octogenarian characters. Because of their selective amnesia a malicious caller interupts their respectful and often laughable lives.
'Remember, you must die,' says the voice, which, understandably, upsets people. Meetings are held and retired detectives reinstated. Old relationships and sordid pasts are gradually and carefully revealed creating a tension with the character's own present and the false identity they cling on to with wrinkled fingers. There is also a more touching tension that of their inevitable and certain future. Those characters who are comfortable with the caller and his message are branded senile, suggesting a feeling of contempt that Spark has for her main characters and their secretive and silly lives.
This is a cleverly constructed novel. It is dark but often light too. There is a delightful sense of irony, and the investigations that attempt to discover the caller's identity give the novel a distinct touch of the Agatha Christie mystery. Muriel Spark is on of Scotland's best writers. This is a very good and funy book.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Miss Spark's little gem of a read. 24 Sep 2010
I have read Momento Mori twice. The first time was in the sixties (my late twenties) the second recently (I'm approaching eighty - rapidly. Age has taught me a lot and I can now appreciate MM a great deal more than I once did. All book-lovers should read it. It is a remarkable work of very considerable merit. Muriel Spark is a fine writer. In MM she does not suffer the lazy reader - be alert. The main characters - quite a few - hear the imperative and experience the inevitable. Plot and sub-plot hold the reader and the carefull ones will grasp connections missed by inattention. If you are a stranger to Muriel Spark catch up on what you have missed. Good Reading. Lionel
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Remember you must die 5 Feb 2006
All the characters in Muriel Spark's novel are old people. There is Dame Lettie Colson who is pestered - but perhaps it is an illusion - by anonymous telephone calls with a voice saying only "Remember you must die", her brother Godfrey and his wife Charmian who live in a sort of ménage à trois. Their life doesn't get easier as they advance in age: senility and physical decrepitude are handicaps they try to live with, sometimes conscious of them but not always.
Then there are the twelve female occupants of the Maud Long Medical Ward, a nursing home, who spend their time gossiping about petty scandals, mostly about wills being rewritten in the favour of another person for some trivial behavioural reason.
The plot is both funny and macabre because all the characters are mean, jealous, curious, witty or confused, probably as they used to be all their life. It seems that old age does not transform our character much, for better or for worse.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly, deliciously dread-ful 26 July 2014
By Dymphna
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a wickedly sharp and shrewd little book. Absolutely skewers her characters to the page - it's macabre, merciless and enormously enjoyable. Spark's economy and acuity are astonishing - for such a contained, controlled performance there are an awful lot of ideas going on here. Meditations on mortality, morality, friendship, art, work, class and marriage - all in a few, exquisitely pleasurably chapters. The characters are undeniable, the dialogue spot on.

A wonderful book - if you like Hilary Mantel, you should adore Spark. I bought a few of Sparks novels recently because I wanted to try and find a few more female writers I could enjoy besides Mantel, Murdoch, Atwood, Drabble, Weldon. All my absolute favourite writers, aside from Mantel, seem to be men - as a woman, I feel this is perverse, and I am seeking to rectify it. I think I can definitely add Spark to the list. Her ruthless little books fit very neatly into the little modern-gothic niche in my heart's bookshelf!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars clichés worked brilliantly 16 May 2011
Spark has probably assembled together every cliché about being old here, along with most ways of dying. She is heartless - old poor patients routinely called Granny This and Granny That - but accurate and concise in her observations. The cast list is drawn from an extremely small, almost literally incestuous, group of upper middle class Londoner arty-types and their servants. All but two or three of the cast is repellent in varying degrees. You can't say nothing happens, but nothing very remarkable happens. Apart from the (not really believable) sociologist (really an odd anthropologist), everyone is very mundane, which makes their class background irrelevant. I really should have hated this book, but the brisk, efficient, beautiful writing makes up for everything. It almost makes you think the religious allusions, or the variations on themes of memory, remembering, repressing, concealing, etc, amount to something more than the commonplaces they really are. But the narrative rattles along brilliantly, often hilariously, and it really does take brilliant writing to make such a story of commonplace people in commonplace circumstances (for the most part) so gripping you need to keep reading. Brilliant!
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I first read this years ago when in my 20's and loved it then. on second reading now in my dotage it struck a much darker note. beautifully observed. When written and first read, the characters were so familiar with the oldies one met. but sadly there seem to be so few of them now. But perhaps it's because there are no writers able to observe and describe us so accurately - or who find old people of interest?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars a very good book
An excellent book. Easily a classic. I recommend it. Do please read. Form your views. Then post a review. Three word sentences. Happiness is defined.
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Muriel Spark at her best. Re-readi this novel ,which I last read when very young, with more awareness ! Mordant humour. Simply brilliant.
Published 4 months ago by Elspeth Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Perceptive but sometimes long-winded
The best sections of this book in my opinion were the scenes in the geriatric ward, 'the grannies', for their perceptive portrayals of character, speech patterns and emotions, not... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ann Gleeson
4.0 out of 5 stars Memento Mori
Took a bit of getting into as Muriel Spark is quite a '50s' writer but it was a well thought out plot although I had difficulty keeping track of various characters initially. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Seagull
3.0 out of 5 stars It's OK, just.
I wasn't wild about the book. In my late eighties I don't need reminding that I shall die! There is no plot to speak of so it relies on the conversation of the characters to keep... Read more
Published 8 months ago by talmine
1.0 out of 5 stars Memento Mori is a remarkably long read for a shirt novel.
A novel about a group of old people none of seem to have any redeeming features.They all seem to be in thrall the each other and their past. Read more
Published 8 months ago by terryb
4.0 out of 5 stars Has it stood the test of time?
Dame Lettie Colston is receiving anonymous telephone calls reminding her that she at heading towards the end of her life: "Remember you must die". Read more
Published 9 months ago by Wynne Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars A Reminder of Mortality
This is a classic book by one of the really great writers of the middle to late 20th Century; an early work but one which helped to cement her reputation. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Donald Tosh
3.0 out of 5 stars Defies Categorisation
I read this book to review it for the catholic fiction website but found it hard to describe it; the title is latin for "remember you must die" and this is the line uttered in a... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Stuart Sussex Scribe
4.0 out of 5 stars not quite as good as I had hoped
I approached this book with high expectations, perhaps too high. However although not quite accepting the comparison with Evelyn Waugh I still enjoyed it very much. Read more
Published on 7 Nov 2011 by F. Geering
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