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The Girls of Slender Means (1963)

by Muriel Spark

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,1475012,796 (3.64)200
Just after World War II in a London ladies' hostel 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.
  1. 00
    Human Voices by Penelope Fitzgerald (shaunie)
    shaunie: Two very short books set in wartime, both packed with meaning despite their length!
  2. 11
    An Experiment in Love by Hilary Mantel (KayCliff)
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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
A British WWII drama/dark comedy—equal parts of both—about a young women's residence and the young women who live there, with jumps in time and slow reveals of several things, notably a sad ending for several of the characters and Spark's trademark gradual unpeeling of character. The form of this short book is tricky and quite wonderful—I've been thinking about how she pulled it off since I finished. Very good stuff, and definitely worthy of a reread at some point, once it's had the chance to settle. ( )
1 vote lisapeet | Dec 1, 2020 |
The Girls Of Slender Means A very dated story but still readable.
 
Set in the 1940s in London. It floats around the news that one of the characters, who had become a missionary, has been killed in some dark and foreign land. The bulk of the novel and characters are set in a women's club and it follows the comings and goings of these people. Full of postwar morality and class. It doesn't really go anywhere it is more of a sit-com that is not funny, a kind of memoir / sit-drama. ( )
  Ken-Me-Old-Mate | Sep 24, 2020 |
"I’ve got something to tell you. Do you remember Nicholas Farringdon? Remember he used to come to the old May of Teck just after the war, he was an anarchist and poet sort of thing. A tall man with—’
‘The one that got on to the roof to sleep out with Selina?’
‘Yes, Nicholas Farringdon.’
‘Oh rather. Has he turned up?’
‘No, he’s been martyred.’
‘What-ed?’
‘Martyred in Haiti. Killed. Remember he became a Brother—’
‘But I’ve just been to Tahiti, it’s marvellous, everyone’s marvellous. Where did you hear it?’
‘Haiti. There’s a news paragraph just come over Reuters..." ( )
  proteaprince | Dec 18, 2019 |
This is a story of young women living in a board and lodge for young women under 30. The time period is the end the war (1945) but also 1960. One of the women, Jane, who works in the publishing industry hears of the death of Nicholas in Haiti. This news result in a series of flashbacks back to the time when Jane lived in the May Teck Club. In these few pages, the author explores young women who are of "slender means" and also unaware life with its dangers that they face. The book explores such themes as death, religion, faith, set in a very light and humorous tone. Joanne, who is constantly reciting poetry and liturgy with eloquence as she teaches elocution, but when you pay attention to the words and subjects, you find a constant thread of "death". There is foreshadowing of an approaching disaster that is there through out the humor. This is my second book by Muriel Sparks. While I can say, I liked this book, I think The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is much better.

The title is very interesting play on words as you will find if you read this book. ( )
  Kristelh | Dec 14, 2019 |
Muriel Spark packs a lot in to her short novels. I'm amazed at how many characters are developed over the 140 pages of this novel. The setting is a home for "girls of slender means", i.e. poor, where many young (and a few old) women live - sharing and bartering soap, food, and even clothes. In the opening of the book, we find out that an acquaintance of the house, Nicholas Farringdon, has been killed while living in Haiti. This leads to a series of flashbacks that make up most of the book, taking place in 1945. A tragedy is slowly revealed, and the book ends up sadly for several of the characters.

Spark writes women's relationships with a lot of depth, insight, and a brutal honesty about how women can be both the biggest support and the harshest critics of each other. I really love her writing. ( )
  japaul22 | Jul 8, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Muriel Sparkprimary authorall editionscalculated
Goring, RosemaryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kennedy, A. L.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
may, nadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, AlanForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vranken, KatjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Alan Maclean
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Long ago in 1945 all the nice people in England were poor, allowing for exceptions.
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Just after World War II in a London ladies' hostel 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.

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