The Girls of Slender Means (New Directions Classic) (Paperback)
"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."
About the Author
Muriel Spark (1918–2006) was the author of dozens of novels, including The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Memento Mori, A Far Cry from Kensington, The Girls of Slender Means, The Ballad of Peckham Rye, The Driver’s Seat, and many more. She became Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1993.
Spark writes with a light comic touch, but there's an undertone of a kind of existential desperation.
— Patrick T. Reardon
This is my desert island book. It is the most perfect high-fantasy book I’ve ever read, with everything I could ever want: dragons, diverse characters that you absolutely fall in love with, fantastic settings and kingdoms, dragons, great plot that leaves you riveted, the sights and smells and sounds of the worlds you're in, dragons, love stories that leave you aching, epic battle scenes..... And did I mention dragons??
This is a book that I literally still think about daily. And nearly every day I’m tempted to pluck it off my shelf again and slip right back into that beloved world again.
Do not fear the large page-count-- I am a slow reader, but it did not take me long to read this huge tome! Every page is a pleasure to read and the journey sweeps you off your feet.
(Adult Fantasy) - reviewed by Isabel