The Finishing School by Muriel Spark***

Reading dates: 15 March – 3 April 2014

I had not planned to read Spark’s last novel, especially since I found ‘Loitering with Intent’ a little awkward. Sometimes, though, one has to throw one’s plans to the wind and embrace the moment so, as Neil got me tickets for ‘Muriel Spark’s Finishing School for Writers‘ I thought I would swot. I am glad I did. It is a lovely book about jealousy and envy amongst writers. It is witty and inconsequential (I like Muriel’s inconsequential), a little neurotic. It depicts one academic year in the life of College Sunrise and how this affects teachers, support staff and students. Then, why the 3*? Well, the book is rather short (98 pages) and could have taken a few more breaths to develop towards the finale. The denouement is almost as if someone told Dame Muriel she had a week to complete it, when it needed four. Still elegant, but rushed. She could have done so much more with Darnley and Rizzio and Mary Queen of Scots. The parallels between court and college are inspired. She still had it in her last novel but it feels as if she lost interest in it.