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Memento Mori (VMC Book 254) [Kindle Edition]

Muriel Spark , A.L. Kennedy
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

Unforgettably astounding and a joy to read, Memento Mori is considered by many to be the greatest novel by the wizardly Dame Muriel Spark. In late 1950s London, something uncanny besets a group of elderly friends: an insinuating voice on the telephone informs each, "Remember you must die." Their geriatric feathers are soon thoroughly ruffled by these seemingly supernatural phone calls, and in the resulting flurry many old secrets are dusted off. Beneath the once decorous surface of their lives, unsavories like blackmail and adultery are now to be glimpsed. As spooky as it is witty, poignant and wickedly hilarious, Memento Mori may ostensibly concern death, but it is a book which leaves one relishing life all the more.

Product Description


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)

Book Description

A brilliant, daring and darkly funny novel by Muriel Spark, 'mistress of the highest high comedy' (The Times)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 291 KB
  • Print Length: 225 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0811223043
  • Publisher: Virago (9 May 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C2V4SKS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #31,603 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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 Sept. 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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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Really enjoyed, really amusing.......and really well-written
Published 13 days ago by KXLY
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 28 days ago by Hola
1.0 out of 5 stars Useless to me!
Muriel Spark is a Scottish writer, but this book was supplied in a FRENCH translation and had to be returned unread!
Published 1 month ago by Martyn Boock
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book by the great Scottish writer Spark
A wonderful book by the great Scottish writer Spark, it is hilarious and a very fitting book in the current debates about how we age and attitudes to mortality. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Christine Arnold
5.0 out of 5 stars first of M. S's books I ever read, ...
first of M.S's books I ever read, before I left London-in the 20th Century (am now 85).
Published 4 months ago by Gabrielle
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 8 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 9 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 9 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 12 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 13 months ago by talmine
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