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4.1 out of 5 stars
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 16 August 2017
This very short (130 pages) novel tells of the relationship between the title character, a teacher in a Scottish junior school in the 1930s, and the particular group of six girls she takes under her wing. It's probably most famous for Maggie Smith's Oscar winning performance in the 1969 film version. She was well cast for the role of this stubborn and headstrong teacher who wants to open up the minds of the girls in her "Brodie set" by telling them of her own experiences in life and love, which she thinks will be a more valuable education that the traditional knowledge-based curriculum favoured by her headteacher Miss MacKay who believes that "culture cannot compensate for lack of hard knowledge". Miss Brodie's view of curriculum priorities is: "Art and religion first; then philosophy; lastly science. That is the order of the great subjects of life, that’s their order of importance”. She favours a child-centred approach: "The word ‘education’ comes from the root e from ex, out, and duco, I lead. It means a leading out. To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil’s soul. To Miss Mackay it is a putting in of something that is not there, and that is not what I call education, I call it intrusion, from the Latin root prefix in meaning in and the stem trudo, I thrust". Yet with these attitudes comes political naivety: she is a firm admirer of both Mussolini and Hitler and how they have transformed their countries. She is suspicious of collective attitudes: "Phrases like ‘the team spirit’ are always employed to cut across individualism, love and personal loyalties”; decries progressive schools as "crank" schools, and berates the future teachers her young charges will have in senior school as "all gross materialists....they all belong to the Fabian Society and are pacifists". Overall Miss Brodie is an opaque and contradictory character and I found it hard to understand what made her tick; her pupils are also mostly unsympathetic characters and there were no really likeable characters in the story. For me this is rather overrated.
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on 10 September 2017
Only just started this in Kindle but have read it in paperback and watched the film more than once. Always hear Maggie Smith's smooth tones behind the lines on the printed page.
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on 13 June 2017
Loving the narration by Miriam Margolyes! And of course, it's a truly enduring classic novel. A treat.
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on 18 August 2017
I enjoyed re- reading this but did not seem so outspoken and modern as it did when it was first published
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on 14 August 2017
Good !
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on 1 September 2017
Rather old fashion these days but I enjoyed rereading after a 40 year gap
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on 23 August 2017
Loved it, after seeing film long ago
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on 22 August 2017
Very ntertaining
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on 27 October 2016
This book has been on my radar for years, but for some reason I’ve never got round to it or seen the iconic film version. I have read Spark’s ‘The Driver’s Seat’ which was brilliant and strange and shocking, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this.
It’s also brilliant and strange and shocking. Spark is a writer who refuses to be bound by convention. She writes in the way she wants to write and this book is wonderful because of that. Miss Jean Brodie is one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever read about, and the way she speaks and behaves are skilfully portrayed. The narrative moves back and forth, showing the teacher and her girls at various stages from when they are ten right through to when they are adults.
The way Brodie manipulates and influences the girls is shocking at times, as is the behaviour of the girls themselves (and some of the other teachers). And the casual cruelties, particularly directed at poor, unfortunate Mary, reveal so much about human relationships. The interactions between the characters also reveal a lot about the conventions and social issues of the time, in the years leading up to the Second World War.
The book is short but it packs so much in. The economy of the writing shows real skill. Spark manages to say a great deal in a few words – a lesson that many writers could do with learning. Her use of language is the epitome of every word having meaning. There are no whimsical meanderings here.
Intelligent, dark, subtle and skillful – genuinely a classic.
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on 8 February 2015
A few years ago I watch the film adaptation of this book staring Maggie Smith and loved it, so it was high time I read the book! I really enjoyed the book, and it certainly has a very strong style. What I particularly enjoyed was the last 2 chapters, where we start to see the true Miss Jean Brodie through reflecting her behaviour and lessons to the students over the last 8 years. The psychological analysis of her type of person was really interesting to me.

I also really enjoyed how the novel, despite flying forwards and backwards constantly to add commentary, still had a great fluidity to it.

A good little read, didn't take long to complete. Only complaint would be the length of the chapters, though was is subjective just because I like shortish chapters which makes it easy to put the book down.
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