I cannot think of this book without thinking of Dame Maggie Smith’s Oscar winning performance of the main character Miss Brodie. Throughout the book I had her voice exclaiming ‘I am in my prime’ ringing in my head in that accent of hers.
But back to the book. On the face of it this book has quite a funny plotline. Miss Jean Brodie is a teacher in a posh school in Edinburgh who is in ‘her prime’, she decides to use her prime and influence on a group of girls she takes under her wing to make them into the ‘crème de la crème’. Her rather bonkers teaching methods are detailed in the book and most of her lessons seem to involve her holiday snaps and detailing her past and present love life while someone looks out for the headmistress.
It’s all quite amusing up to a point and throughout the book there are some really funny lines.
"Jean Brodie: “Dear Miss Brodie, I hope it will be convenient for you to see me in my office this afternoon at 4:15. Emily Mackay”. Four fifteen. Not four, not four thirty, but four fifteen. Hm. She thinks to intimidate me by the use of quarter hours?
But everything is not quite right with Miss Brodie and it soon transpires that having influence over young girls is one thing but what if the person with that influence was a fascist who also had some rather strange ideas when it came to the paths she has chosen for her girls?
Spark herself is the all knowing narrator throughout and the narrative will quite often jump forwards in time (sometimes mid-sentence) by about twenty years so that even when the narrative is in the present the reader knows what exactly what will happen to Miss Brodie and what became of the girls.
I can see why this is Muriel Spark’s most famous novel and while the story-line is a cracking one, it’s the humour and Spark’s use of narration that ensures I’ll read more from this author.