The Finishing School Paperback – 28 Apr 2005
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The elegantly written The Finishing School reminds us again of Muriel Spark's unique talent, combining a wry sympathy for human behaviour with a clear-eyed assessment of our foibles. All her books, from the The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie to the lesser known volumes, possess an insinuating charm and an understated but often lethal satirical thrust; few middle-class absurdities have gone unanalysed.
The Finishing School is concise but it has all the insinuating charm of her best work. Rowland Mahler and his wife Nina run a mixed-sex finishing school called College Sunrise. Rowland has aspirations as a novelist but he has an unconscious rival--a talented pupil, Chris--whose literary efforts effortlessly outpace Rowland's. Soon a poisonous atmosphere suffuses the school as Rowland falls prey to agonies of jealousy. Spark has always been good at the tensions and rivalries of the school environment, and her touch is as sure as ever in this highly diverting piece. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"An empress of literary sleight of hand. . . . What grace and beauty she's still displaying during the golden days and starlit nights of her absolutely marvelous career." -"The Washington Post""Ingeniously comic. . . . Spark has packed a multitude of twists and turns into this relatively brief novel, and the action skims along merrily from one surprising revelation to the next." -"Los Angeles Times Book Review"""The Finishing School "has all the ingredients of her best-known fiction." -"The New York Times""Delicious. . . . A deft new comic novel. . . . Spark remains a master of quick-stroke portraiture and trenchant moral investigation." -"The Seattle Times""A youthful academic comedy. . . . Her style . . . remains as sharp, even shocking, as it's always been." -"The New York Times Book Review"See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
That is the gist of this slight novella of 156 pages. I can't quite believe in Rowland. Nina is more credible. The other teenagers are merely sketched in. I don't think much of the ending: it seems forced and rushed, as if Muriel Spark were herself in a hurry to end the book somehow. But she writes so easily and entertainingly that it's a pleasant enough read.
But as the reader progresses along the plot, he realises that nothing in Mrs Spark's novel is as it seems. The characters are well drawn, the scenes are often very amusing because they are laced with acute and witty observations about authors, publishers, school life, marital relationships and more generally about present day preoccupations.
The ending is preposterous, and as other reviewers have pointed out, seems hurried. Spark resorts to listing over two pages what happened to the characters of the novel, as though she seems to feel she must tie up any loose ends. This is disappointing in such a highly regarded writer. Some of the best novels leave the reader to make up their own minds about how things turn out . . .
If you haven't read any Muriel Spark before, don't start with this one.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
well its not what i thought it would be but that could be my fault so will read this as my first muiriel spark worksPublished on 8 Oct. 2013 by Sir hopes
I found this book entertaining but lacking in vital areas and padded out with unnecessary text.
I would have liked more content on the simmering relationship between the... Read more
From the title you might well assume that `The Finishing School' is a Sparkian (does that sound to grand? Read morePublished on 14 May 2010 by Simon Savidge Reads