I really didn’t know what was going on in this book. I think I basically got what was happening by the end, and then I read a comment on Goodreads that made it click for me, but I think I may need to re-read this again soon just to see how the story unfolds when you know what’s to come. I mean, you know the ending when you start the novel. Spark tells you, but I guess I didn’t believe her.
This is about a single woman who travels on holiday to a southern city in Europe to find a boyfriend that she hasn’t met. He doesn’t know her, she doesn’t know him, but she’ll know him when she sees him. She acts erratically throughout the entire novel, in ways that are as comical as they are disturbing, and the reader is left completely bewildered until the end, and then only slightly less so. I read this last year, and some of her actions are only now starting to make sense to me as I look back, and I suddenly feel the need to re-read this now that I know how it plays out.
Even though I was mostly lost while reading this, I still enjoyed it. Muriel Spark was a great writer who managed to balance the darkness with the hilarious in a way that really appeals to me. I read my first of her novels, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, last year and thought it was fantastic. She didn’t hold the reader’s hand in that novel either. The answers are all in the text, but you do have to spend some time considering and interpreting it yourself, which I think shows confidence in storytelling.
She really wasn’t an author that was afraid to take chances, which makes me excited to see what else she’s written. I have The Girls of Slender Means and The Abbess of Crewe and will be getting to one of them soon.