The Girls of Slender Means (New Directions Classic)

The Girls of Slender Means (New Directions Classic)

Muriel Spark

Language: English

Pages: 140

ISBN: 081121379X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


"Long ago in 1945 all the nice people in England were poor, allowing for exceptions," begins The Girls of Slender Means, Dame Muriel Spark's tragic and rapier-witted portrait of a London ladies' hostel just emerging from the shadow of World War II.

Like the May of Teck Club itself—"three times window shattered since 1940 but never directly hit"—its lady inhabitants do their best to act as if the world were back to normal: practicing elocution, and jostling over suitors and a single Schiaparelli gown. The novel's harrowing ending reveals that the girls' giddy literary and amorous peregrinations are hiding some tragically painful war wounds.

Chosen by Anthony Burgess as one of the Best Modern Novels in the Sunday Times of London, The Girls of Slender Means is a taut and eerily perfect novel by an author The New York Times has called "one of this century's finest creators of comic-metaphysical entertainment."

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continually. She had put aside Nicholas’s manuscript for the time being, as it was a sticky proposition; she had not yet, in fact, grasped the theme of the book, as was necessary before deciding on a significant passage to cast doubt upon, although she had already thought of the comment she would recommend George to make: ‘Don’t you think this part is a bit derivative?’ Jane had thought of it in a brainwave. She had put the book aside. She was at work, now, on some serious spare-time work for

putting his head this way, that way, as he said it. ‘It is mediocrity. I recall he composed this in 1938 when he had a freckled bed-mate of the female sex; she was an anarchist and pacifist. Listen, by the way. . .’ He read out: X is writing a history of anarchism. Anarchism properly has no history in the sense that X intends –i.e. in the sense of continuity and development. It is a spontaneous movement of people in particular times and circumstances. A history of anarchism would not be in the

haven’t had, you and I. Biologically. Ask Sigmund Freud. It is revealed in dreams. The absent touch of the warm limbs at night, the absent –’ ‘Just a minute,’ said Nicholas, holding up his hand for silence, in the pretence that he was tuning in to his empty tape-machine. He could see that the two women would go to any lengths, now they had got started. ‘Open the door, please.’ From behind the door came the warden’s voice and the rattle of the coffee tray. Before Nicholas could leap up to open

tying up refugee parcels at Bath. Lady Julia’s hair was white, and so now was the hair of her niece Dorothy, covered as it was by falling plaster-dust, as she clambered up the fire-ladder to the sloping tiles and was assisted to the safe flat roof-top. At her heels came Nancy Riddle, the daughter of the Low-Church Midlands clergyman, whose accents of speech had been in process of improvement by Joanna’s lessons. Her elocution days were over now, she would always speak with a Midlands accent. Her

nice people come, than these girls at Kensington who glanced out of the windows in the early mornings to see what the day looked like, or gazed out on the green summer evenings, as if reflecting on the months ahead, on love and the relations of love. Their eyes gave out an eager-spirited light that resembled near-genius, but was youth merely. The first of the Rules of Constitution, drawn up at some remote and innocent Edwardian date, still applied more or less to them: The May of Teck Club

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