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Muriel Spark’s timeless classic about a controversial teacher who deeply marks the lives of a select group of students in the years leading up to World War II
 
“Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life!” So asserts Jean Brodie, a magnetic, dubious, and sometimes comic teacher at the conservative Marcia Blaine School for Girls in Edinburgh. Brodie selects six favorite pupils to mold—and she doesn’t stop with just their intellectual lives. She has a plan for them all, including how they will live, whom they will love, and what sacrifices they will make to uphold her ideals. When the girls reach adulthood and begin to find their own destinies, Jean Brodie’s indelible imprint is a gift to some, and a curse to others.
 
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is Spark’s masterpiece, a novel that offers one of twentieth-century English literature’s most iconic and complex characters—a woman at once admirable and sinister, benevolent and conniving.
 
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Muriel Spark including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the author’s archive at the National Library of Scotland.
 
Published: Open Road Media an imprint of Open Road Integrated Media on Mar 20, 2012
ISBN: 9781453245033
List price: $14.99
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For me it’s an odd little book, very well written, with characters that are all a little lost and confused (as are we all). Jean Brodie is an eccentric character, fully aware that she is out of place but believing that she needs to remain there for the good of her girls. She has a persecution attitude, she feels she needs to be constantly vigilant against threats because she know that the headmistress would like to find a way to force her to leave. At the same time she is also fully unaware of her own faults, the threats she poses to her students, her own immorality (convincing a student to fight for Franco, manipulating a selected student to sleep with a married teacher in her place), her own shortcomings.But I know little about Catholicism or Calvinism so the author’s comparisons and metaphors (pointed out to me after doing some internet searches) went over my head.The use of time perspectives, flashing forward and back, is excellent. It serves a purpose, it’s never unclear, it doesn’t detract from the flow of the story, and it allows us to see the circumstances of the principle time frame from a multitude of time perspectives. Normally we can see the story from the perspective of different characters within the story but here we get to see the story from the perspective of those characters and from different time frames which magnifies the depth to which we can view the situations. For me this is one of the most excellent aspects of the book; I can’t think of an example where differing time perspectives are used so well and add so much value to the story.read more
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A character study and power play of fascinating construction. In Miss Brodie, Dame Muriel Spark gave a prime example of a perfect and artistic presentation of a character’s state and fate. The novel’s layers of inquiry are peeled one by one, spoiling secrets like they don't matter at all, whose meanings are only incidental to the story and serves the greater purpose of feeding Miss Brodie’s ego. The novel concerns itself with the conflict between Insight and Instinct, virtues that Miss Brodie claims reside at the heart of her philosophy of education. Her self-proclaimed genius and superiority hinges, ultimately, on the unity or twinning within herself of Insight/Instinct. In her devotion to assimilate her influence over her brood of adolescent students who are at the mercy of her care, and in her insistence to spread her influence to them with utmost gusto, Miss Brodie is one of the most naïve and deluded characters invented in fiction.read more
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Wonderful! A note-perfect, densely-woven little novel about an extraordinary, and extraordinarily strange, Scottish schoolmistress and the long-lasting effect she has on her favorite pupils. Candida McWilliams, who composed the introduction to my copy, writes, "So distinguished a technician is Muriel Spark that one may take practically any section of the book and it will provide metaphor for the entire book itself." She's absolutely right. For a book that lasts just one-hundred-and-thirty pages, "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" lends itself to a remarkable number of alternate readings. It's a portrait of its marvelously eccentric title character and a commentary on the shortcomings of a "woman's education" and a critique of twentieth century totalitarianism and a meditation on art and its uses and a love-letter to shabby-genteel Edinburgh and a smutty, funny sex comedy all at once. However, I particularly enjoyed sensitive Spark's depiction of adolescence, a time when everyone can, and maybe should, be "known for something" and the world more or less revolves around gossip and social gamesmanship. As lighthearted as "Miss Brodie" seems, though, I admire Spark for presenting her readers with a character like Miss Jean Brodie. From a certain perspective, this constitutes an absolutely enormous risk. Miss Brodie, who rejects conventional morality, considers herself cultured and extraordinarily perceptive, and years for artistically-induced ecstasy, seems, at times, to be a cruel caricature of a certain kind of female reader. Like John Kennedy O'Toole, whose Ignatius J. Riley lampooned self-styled intellectuals, Spark might be seeking to challenge her readers with a cartoonishly distorted personification of their own worst intellectual habits. That she manages to pull this high-wire act off without once deviating from her perfectly pitched high-camp tone is nothing short of amazing. "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" is highly recommended.read more
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I first encountered The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in 1969 when I viewed the British drama film, based on the novel of the same name by Muriel Spark. Like many others I was mesmerized by Maggie Smith's Academy-Award winning performance as the imperious Miss Jean Brodie who lectured and directed her girls. The original novel by Muriel Spark had been turned into a play by Jay Presson Allen, which opened in London in 1966 with Vanessa Redgrave and on Broadway in 1968, with Zoe Caldwell in the title role, a performance for which she won a Tony Award. Allen adapted the play into the film, which was directed by Ronald Neame. In addition to Maggie Smith there was also a notable performance from Pamela Franklin as Sandy, for which she won the National Board of Review award for Best Supporting Actress. It is also remembered for the beautiful song by Rod McKuen, "Jean".It was more than a decade before I actually got around to reading the original novel, and as is the case even with very good films the novel was considerably better. Muriel Spark explores the complex morally ambiguous lives of her charcters through a medley of straight narrative and flash-forwards that propel the reader through the lives of Miss Brodie's girls. "Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she will be mine for life," says the elegant Miss Brodie, the 1930s Edinburgh schoolmistress who is devoting her "prime" to six hand-picked, 10-year-old students. She demonstrates an unorthodox devotion that values art above history and dwells upon her personal love life and travels. The author breaks into the novel to tell the reader, in brief paragraph-long omniscient interruptions just what will become of the girls in the future. Miss Brodie's attempt to inspire seems to lead to unintended consequences, but it is not clear exactly what her original intent was beyond, perhaps, merely dazzling these young girls. As a result a sort of melancholy emerges, but it is the vigor and beauty of Spark's prose make this a great novel. It not surprising that it was included on the best 100 lists of both Time Magazine and the Modern Library.read more
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This novel is genius. It's short enough to enjoy in a couple of days (or one), and strikingly original in it's prose and conception.read more
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Told in a mix of timelines and a whirlwind of delicious characters this is a funny, intelligent and exuberant story of the "Brodie Set". Miss Brodie is an unorthodox teacher at a girls school in the 1930s and she (as she likes to remind people) is in her Prime. Her favourite pupils are groomed to be the crème de la crème: the Brodie set. 'This is Stanley Baldwin who got in as Prime Minister and got out again ere long,' said Miss Brodie. 'Miss Mackay retains him on the wall because she believes in the slogan "Safety First". But Safety does not come first. Goodness, Trust and Beauty come first. Follow me.' It's a damn hard book to review, short and chaotic it's full of pitch perfect, intelligent and humorous writing. I cannot really find anything to pick out. From the intriguing and enticing way Spark introduces the Brodie set by narrowing them to a simple skill (Rose is famous for her sex appeal, Monica for her maths and her anger) to extra tension of the ominous betrayal and the bitter-sweet edge of future reality. It is a book of many layers and complexity but it is never confusing or tiresome and oddly, although very much of it's time it doesn't feel dated. "We shall discuss tomorrow night the persons who oppose me' said Miss Brodie. 'But rest assured they shall not succeed.''No,' said everyone. 'No, Of course they won't.''Not while I am in my prime. It is important to recognize the years of one's prime, always remember that,..' Highly recommended. It's my second attempt at Muriel Spark, I didn’t quite gel with the character in [Drivers Seat] but I loved this.read more
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I just finished this 1001 book, and I felt quite disappointed. I thought the writing was at times repetitive, and the characterisation poorly executed, overall. For me, Jean Brodie's character was simply foolish and pathetic, but I think my memory of the film where Maggie Smith plays that part has influenced my judgment, as she was quite compelling in the role. The narrative was written in an interesting manner, as TQD says, signalling the outcome for the various characters. This device can be at times extremely irritating, but in this instance it works, as a linear narrative would have made the tale quite dull.Having dissed the book, I must say that I was drawn in to it, despite my expectations not being met.read more
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Intricately put together, but alienatingly mannered and lacking in narrative drive. One of the many books that make me wonder whether people who describe it as "humorous" are doing so in order to appear clever, rather than because while reading it they actually, well, laughed.read more
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The third book for the twenty-four hour readathon! I have a World Book Night copy, given to me by my mother. Otherwise, I doubt I'd have read this without someone giving me a push toward it.

I don't know what I think of it, though. The character of Miss Jean Brodie is sort of fascinating, the things she says and believes, and the psychology of it all is actually quite interesting, but... It didn't really catch fire for me. The introduction by Candia McWilliam suggests that for some people it does, when they're fairly young even in many cases, but not so for me.read more
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I liked this even better than the movie—everything was a bit clearer and richer: my distaste for Jean Brodie, the growing divergence of the girls' private feelings from their subservient demeanor, the perspectives into the minds of Miss Brodie's adult acquaintances. Whereas my admiration for Maggie Smith's abilities made her the most interesting part of the film for me, I found myself more interested in the growth of the girls as individuals and their life choices in the book.The book is not long and Ms. Spark has achieved such a good flow between the school-days perspective and that of Sandy's memories, and between the stories of the six girls, that it almost seemed like a short story.read more
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I need to mull this book over a bit, so my rating may change. Miss Brodie is a bit strange, especially towards the end. Sandie's internal imaginings were amusing, amusing but I didn't really understand her feelings about Miss Brodie at the end...read more
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Still not sure what I made of this. Mostly a bit disappointed as so many people seem to love the book and her style of writing, but I wasn't that keen. I found some parts amusing, mostly how she referred to people "Rosie, who was well known for sex" consistently throughout the book, but I found the characters shallow and really didn't warm to Jean Brodie at all.read more
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An entertaining story, and a simple escape for an evening's read. Spark's humor here is delicate, and her character studies here both remarkable and engrossing. Worth the wandering.read more
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A book that was on many people’s recommended reads lists. Jean Brodie is a teacher at a girls’ school with a following. She’s sharp and well-read and clever, which goes against the grain of the educational institution, but she is also flawed and leads her students onto paths that do not always serve them or the world well. Why is it when we find someone we admire we seem to ignore the parts that don’t work for us? A cautionary tale, in a sense, for me.read more
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This best known work by Murial Spark, is a story of a woman teacher, Miss Jean Brodie who teaches at an girls day school in Edinburgh, Scotland during the thirties. Miss Brodie is unconventional to say the least. The story is told through the girls of the Brodie set, mostly by Sandy. Miss Brodie states; “Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life”. The book starts out by introducing us to the girls along with a prophetic statement about each of the girls. Miss Brodie teaches strongly in the areas of art and history and her own personal travel stories and neglects the subjects of math and science. Early on the reader learns that someone betrays Miss Brodie. There are some flash forwards in the story as well as some details in Miss Brodie’s life that are slowly reviewed. The main focus starts out with Miss Brodie’s love life. The girls are eleven in the beginning. There is a love triangle with Miss Brodie, the art teacher and the music teacher. Inserted into the story are some references to Mussolini, Hitler and to Franco. Major themes relate to individualism and education. Individualism has been taken away from the Brodie set. A teacher has used them to live her own life vicariously through them. The other major theme is the differences between curriculum and cultural learning. The question is, was Miss Brodie betrayed or did she finally trip herself up with her influence over young the young girls? This is a great book for discussion and I experienced it rather than just read it, which makes it a 5 star book for me.read more
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Miss Jean Brodie is an teacher at a girl's school who has a coterie of young girls that she teaches whom she has decided are la "crème de la crème". Always reminding them that she is in her prime, Miss Brodie spends her time trying to mold these girls into young Brodies, and has definite notions about the meaning of education -- to the extent to which later, after they've left her, she begins to try to live her life somewhat vicariously through the lives of some of the "Brodie Set." It is this which leads one of them to Miss Brodie's "betrayal," and forced retirement.There are a lot of interesting themes to explore in this book, and it has been well covered, so I won't go into any depth here; I thought one of the most interesting ideas was the recurring theme of Miss Brodie's fascination with fascism -- one could easily see after reading this book why she was so taken with Mussolini and the black shirts in the 1930s (at the time in which this book was set). I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions, but I will say that this was a fabulous book and you will continue to think about it long after you've finished it. Don't look to it for plot, so much, but rather look at the characters. The wonderful job the author does with the characters is what makes this book so incredibly good.read more
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Miss Jean Brodie plies her unorthodox teaching methods at the sedate Marcia Blaine School for Girls in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she is in her prime, ”the moment one is born to.” In the 1930s, between-the-wars, she was not that different from other spinsters, teaching elsewhere in Scotland. But she just didn’t fit in with the traditional concepts that prevailed at Marcia Blaine, and the head mistress is bound and determined to find a way to rid the school, and her chosen girls, otherwise known as the Brodie set, of Miss Brodie.But her set, her personally chosen crème de la crème consists of six girls who are completely devoted to their teacher. And yet one will betray her. Who? And how? Although the betrayal is revealed fairly early on in the narrative, Spark takes the reader back and forth in time, exposing events that lead up to the forced retirement of the instructor and the later resultant lives of the Brodie set. And why does the teacher reveal so much of her personal life to her young charges? It doesn’t take long for one of her students to figure out that Miss Brodie has taken one teacher as a lover, while actually being in love with another teacher. She is at once both a sympathetic romantic but also has a dark, calculating, self-centered side.Spark’s prose is divine throughout:”Mary MacGregor, although she lived her twenty-fourth year, never quite realized that Jean Brodie’s confidences were not shared with the rest of the staff and that her love story was given out only to her pupils. She had not thought much about Jean Brodie, certainly never disliked her, when, a year after the outbreak of the Second World War, she joined the Wrens, and was clumsy and incompetent, and was much blamed. On one occasion of real misery---when her first and last boyfriend, a corporal whom she had known for two weeks, deserted her by failing to show up at an appointed place and failing to come near her again---she thought back to see if she had ever really been happy in her life; it occurred to her then that the first years with Miss Brodie, sitting listening to all those stories and opinions which had nothing to do with the ordinary world, had been the happiest time of her life.” (Page 24)The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is full of dark satire, complex characters that are not necessarily likable, and intricate plotting. Highly recommended.read more
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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark, is a wonderful little book about Miss Brodie, a teacher at a girl's school in 1930's Edinburgh, and her "set" - the group of five girls who Miss Brodie personally chose as her crème de la crème. Miss Brodie's teaching style is eccentric, with a focus on literature, art, music and stories about her personal life. As the girls mature, they speculate about Miss Brodie's personal life and eventually become embroiled in it. And in the end, one of Miss Brodie's set betrays her.The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is about the influence that a teacher can have on impressionable minds. All of the girls are shaped by Miss Brodie and bear that influence throughout their lives. Spark's tale is not so much plot-driven as character-driven. Throughout the book we learn about the tales the girls - especially Sandy - weave about their teacher and how those stories morph and change through the years. Personally, I love Spark's writing style - she is humorous and notes the tiniest details which help to define a person. She repeats certain phrases throughout the book, illuminating the way that individual details help make up our knowledge of a person.read more
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I read it as a bitter-sweet tragedy of characters restricted by the realities of the 30's that we in the post 60's era barely understand. Nor do we perhaps appreciate the challenges that Jean is undertaking nor its limited application except for a privileged few say such as Muriel Spark herself...read more
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"These girls formed the Brodie Set. ...At that time they had been immediately recognisable as Miss Brodie's pupils, being vastly informed on a lot of subjects irrelevant to the authorised curriculum, as the headmistress said, and useless to the school as a school. These girls were discovered to have heard of the Buchmanites and Mussolini, the Italian Renaissance painters, the advantages to the skin of cleansing cream and witch hazel over honest soap and water, and the word "menarche"; the interior decoration of the London house of the author of Winnie the Pooh had been described to them, as had the love lives of Charlotte Bronte and Miss Brodie herself."This was a delightful audio, read by a narrator who is beginning to feel like an old friend. The story takes place in Edinburgh in the 1930s, primarily at the conservative Marsha Blaine School for Girls. Miss Brodie dedicates her prime to the education of her girls, of which she reminds them frequently. Among her class of 11 year-olds she selects a few girls -- to be forever known as "The Brodie Set" to become her special projects and confidantes; the "creme de la creme." The story is told in layers which flash forward and back through time as the girls, particularly Sandy, mature and look back on the influence of Miss Brodie in her prime. Most of the staff, with the exception of two male teachers, distrust Miss Brodie with her unorthodox teaching style and suspected love affairs, and the headmistress never ceases her campaign to coax or force one of the set to divulge incriminating information. When Miss Brodie is betrayed by one of her girls, she is forced to retire, and never gets over the betrayal. The book is both witty and reflective. A small gem.read more
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Miss Jean Brodie teaches at a small Scottish day school for girls. She uses unusual teaching methods such as telling her impressionable prepubescent girls romantic stories and taking them on excursions to art galleries and plays. Her favorite pupils are referred to as the "Brodie set" a group of girls especially selected because of their parents love of Miss Brodie's methods or just indifference. She constantly reminds the girls how lucky they are to know her while she is "in her prime" and manipulates them to her own ends.When Miss Brodie continually reminds her girls that she is "in her prime" the author is alluding to her being a woman past marrying age that is trying to hold on to her influence and sex appeal. She is an egotistical spinster who uses her "Brodie set" as confidants and co- conspirators. They keep her secrets and help her to keep her job. She influences her students for the better or worse. She instills poise and confidence in some of her girls and they look back to there time with her with fondness. She also lets some of the girls down like the harassed Mary Macgregor and the misguided Joyce Emily.Miss Brodie is an idealistic admirer of the fascists. She feels persecuted by the head mistress of the school and she in turn persecutes one of her students, Mary Macgregor, by constantly blaming her for anything that goes wrong. Poor Mary is so dim that she takes the abuse. The other pupils copy the behavior and tease Mary to please their teacher.This is a very sexual novel. When we first meet the young pupils they are 10 or 11 years old and are both curious and naive about sex. The girls have conversations and write stories elaborating on the tales Miss Brodie tells of her past lover who died in World War I. Later Miss Brodie manipulates the girls into covering for her new affair and even encourages one pupil to start an affair with one of the teachers. This short novel is packed with meaning. I am impressed by Muriel Spark's economy of words, yet so much is said. By using repetition we learn so much about the characters personality and motives. This is a very well written novel and I look forward to reading more of her works in the future.read more
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Miss Jean Brodie is a schoolteacher at a private girl's school in Edinburgh, Scotland. She has unusual teaching methods, and believes that science, mathematics and other items on the curriculum should take a back seat to teaching about beauty and culture. During class, she is perfectly capable of telling her students to open their math books in case the headmistress drops by and proceed to tell them all about her recent trip to Italy—this is the 1930s and she is a fan of Mussolini's "Black Shirts”—and about her love life. The story is centred on "The Brodie Set", a group of six girls who've attended her classes in primary school and have kept in touch with Miss Brodie as they grew up, visiting her at home for tea our accompanying her to cultural outings. Each of the girls has a particular characteristic she is known for. For instance, when we are introduced to them, we find out that Jenny is famous for her beauty, Sandy is famous for her "small, almost nonexistent, eyes", Monica is famous for mathematics and her anger, and Rose is famous for Sex, and these descriptions are repeated throughout the novel to form a comic motif. The novel travels backward and forward in time, and we know early on that one of the girls eventually betrayed Miss Brodie—the school has been trying to get rid of her for a long time, and the headmistress has questioned each of Miss Brodie's former students repeatedly to try to find something to pin on her, though of course we only find out who delivered the damning information toward the end, by which time we've learned how most of the characters have fared into their adult lives and the extent of the influence Miss Brodie exerted on them.I read this novel a couple of years ago and it was my first foray into Muriel Spark's writing. I can't say I liked it much back then. I could see there was humour here, but it failed to amuse me, and it probably didn't help that I didn't like Miss Brodie much—no doubt her fascist leanings didn't help much. I was disappointed, as was expecting to love this book based on much of what I'd read about it. I decided to revisit it this year, on audio format this time, and while the narrator Miriam Margolyes did a fine job and I got a kick out of hearing the Scottish pronunciations (I'd forgotten that Edinburgh is pronounced "Edinborough"), I didn't get much more out of it than I did the first time. I wouldn't want to discourage others from reading this book, because it's got lots going for it, but if I were to recommend good places to start with Spark's writing based on my personal preferences so far, I'd sooner recommend Memento Mori or Loitering with Intent, which I both found excellent and very funny.read more
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I discovered this one from the Girlybooks community here at LT. It's set in the 1930s at a girl's school around a group of young girls described as "Brodie's set." Miss Jean Brodie is a teacher at the school who believes, obviously, that she is in her prime. She teaches the girls what she thinks is really important: how to take care of their faces, their hands, and about Miss Brodie's love life.This is a quick book, it can easily be read on a rainy Saturday (as today was) and is laugh out loud funny in places. I would definitely recommend.read more
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Read it when I was new in US. Can't remember. Need to revisit it.read more
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At under 200 pages, it's really more of a novella, which I finished quite quickly. I enjoyed the book, but it's not what I expected. Since, I'm not exactly sure what I expected, that's not really fair to say.The book is set in Edinburgh beginning in the years before WWII and continues back and forth in time until 1939. Miss Jean Brodie is an eccentric school mistress at the traditional Marcia Blaine School for Girls. She doesn't associate with the other teachers in the junior school, and she is regarded with suspicion by most everyone at the school, including the head mistress. Miss Brodie ignores the structured curriculum taught by the other teachers and prefers to teach her girls about life, art, and culture mainly through stories about herself. Her ideas on everything from education to religion and sex clash with the majority of the people she comes into contact with.The story is told in flashbacks and recounts the years of one particular set of her girls known as the Brodie set. Miss Brodie likes to have control over her girls and be involved with their lives inside and outside of school. In fact, it's almost as if she plays God in the girls' lives -- pronouncing who will succeed and who will fail. The girls are loyal to Miss Brodie and support her when she faces attack from the headmistress. However, one of the girls ends up 'betraying' Miss Brodie. At least that's the way Miss Brodie sees it at the time.The book is humorous at times, and I'm anxious to see how everyone else feels about this book when the discussion takes place on July 12. If you're interested, come on over and join in the discussion.read more
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The first time I read this book it made me gasp. Spark's characterizations are certainly adept and insightful, but her prose is quite amazing as well. She is an expert stylist. Aside from the joy of reading a superb and classic novel of the second half of the twentieth century, you can read it merely for the precision and imagination of the sentences themselves.read more
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“Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life.” Firstly let me say that this is not your ordinary schoolday tale, there is something a little sinister about it. The story is set in a posh Edinburgh day school and set around a group of schoolgirls the 'Brodie Set' who are selected then taken under the wing of their tutor Miss Jean Brodie. Jean Brodie is something of an outcast within the school she does not stick strictly to the curriculum preferring instead to tell tales of her travels abroad and tries to instill a love of the Arts into 'her' girls by taking them to museums, art galleries etc preferring individualism over teamwork, all of which puts her at odds with headmistress who is looking for a way to get rid of her. Yet in many ways she is merely tring to give them a more rounded education rather than just getting them to pass exams. Unfortunately Miss Brodie is also a fan of Fascism, which seems strange given her belief in individualism, and it is her politics which leads to her downfall. The tale moves through the girls education from 11 to 17 with all that teenage angst but is also interwoven with sections of them as adults. Miss Brodie seems a little sinister as she tries to mould and influence her 'Set' into her own image and can be seen as controlling but I also see her as cutting a rather sad figure. She seems incapable of having a real relationship with another adult, she is at odds with her colleagues and even goes as far as trying to use one of the girls to have an affair with Mr Lloyd as a way of having one herself with him by proxy. In the end her scheming fails as the girls eventually go their own ways and she is eventually betrayed by one of them rather than be allowed to repeat the process with another group.This is an interesting tale and perhaps the moral of it is that you should not put a person on a pedestal as they are likely to eventually disappoint. The tale is beautifully written with with touches of comedy as well as darkness througthout but sadly not really my cup of tea.read more
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I like the way that the story gradually unfolds, you're aware of some of the events right from the beginning but it all comes together slowly to create one big picture.I think this would be my next choice for a Book Tree Book; I love the writing style, and there are some fantastic lines in it.I like the way it shows the girls growing up and the ways in which they change - by the end of the book you can really see Miss Brodie's influence on them. I wonder how things would have been different if they hadn't been part of her 'set'.read more
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For a book that I really just picked up on a whim, because I'd thought to read it idly at a few points over the past few years, this really paid off. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a modern classic (to the degree that I read the Modern Classics edition), which is usually enough to put me off something, but perhaps I should reconsider that if this delightful, slim little novel is what I'm missing out on. For something that was a scant 123 pages, there's a surprising amount of depth here.Our Miss Jean Brodie here is a teacher at a fairly good private school in Edinburgh in the mid-1930s, who has different ideas about teaching than her colleagues. Thus, her headmistress at the school would like to find some reason to kick her out, but it's hard to find purchase among her students to find grounds to do so, since just being unorthodox isn't grounds as long as the students are learning. And her students, and particularly her own Brodie Set of six girls that she has decided to devote her prime to, hold her in high esteem, taking in all the lessons she cares to give, and of course much more from her own life, her lost love in WWI, and then her new romantic connections to two different teachers now in her prime. But in the end, one of them comes to betray her, and she is cast out. How and why this comes to pass, and the growth of the girls, that forms the bulk of the story.Saying that one of her set betrays her isn't really a spoiler, mind - we hear of this quite early, and find out the identity of the betrayer fairly early on as well, even if the betrayal itself only comes at the end. Spark writes her way through with a wide, knowing eye over the sweep of the years, so that we see the roots of the students' connections with her, starting off in junior school, and then on through the rest of their lives, just with making casual references to the future, and back again. This style actually does a great job of building along to the resolution while letting us see the different characters and how their personalities and lives were shaped, by themselves and by Miss Brodie. It allows for a lot of characterization, given the shortness of the book.As much as I had interest in the story, though, the writing and the characters really did sell it. The book really is quite funny, for Miss Brodie's teachings, all the Primes and the meanings of education and the nature of her classes, how she cuts through life. What the girls take away from it, what they actually do with the teaching and what they think about, is often presented humorously, as well. But there is a great feeling of psychological reality to it all, both for Miss Brodie and her love interests, and also for the different girls. The thematic structure, of connection and trying to find and protect your role, is really well done, and the characters we see a lot of definitely have complex minds. They're real people, and I imagine this is a book that would stand up quite well to re-reading. There're lots of good metaphor and psychology stuff to dig into.Anyway, for its size - really, you can probably knock this off in an easy few hours - there's a lot of humor and amusement to get out of this, and a lot of meat, as well. The story's got a real spark, and I really enjoyed it. Definitely this is one that's worth a quick try, to enjoy and to admire.read more
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I hated the film and television adaptions, expected to loathe the book but found it interesting clever and enjoyable. Miss Brodie is an evil fascist little madam who damages the lives of the girls she tries to make her own.Now what else has Muriel Spark written?read more
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For me it’s an odd little book, very well written, with characters that are all a little lost and confused (as are we all). Jean Brodie is an eccentric character, fully aware that she is out of place but believing that she needs to remain there for the good of her girls. She has a persecution attitude, she feels she needs to be constantly vigilant against threats because she know that the headmistress would like to find a way to force her to leave. At the same time she is also fully unaware of her own faults, the threats she poses to her students, her own immorality (convincing a student to fight for Franco, manipulating a selected student to sleep with a married teacher in her place), her own shortcomings.But I know little about Catholicism or Calvinism so the author’s comparisons and metaphors (pointed out to me after doing some internet searches) went over my head.The use of time perspectives, flashing forward and back, is excellent. It serves a purpose, it’s never unclear, it doesn’t detract from the flow of the story, and it allows us to see the circumstances of the principle time frame from a multitude of time perspectives. Normally we can see the story from the perspective of different characters within the story but here we get to see the story from the perspective of those characters and from different time frames which magnifies the depth to which we can view the situations. For me this is one of the most excellent aspects of the book; I can’t think of an example where differing time perspectives are used so well and add so much value to the story.
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A character study and power play of fascinating construction. In Miss Brodie, Dame Muriel Spark gave a prime example of a perfect and artistic presentation of a character’s state and fate. The novel’s layers of inquiry are peeled one by one, spoiling secrets like they don't matter at all, whose meanings are only incidental to the story and serves the greater purpose of feeding Miss Brodie’s ego. The novel concerns itself with the conflict between Insight and Instinct, virtues that Miss Brodie claims reside at the heart of her philosophy of education. Her self-proclaimed genius and superiority hinges, ultimately, on the unity or twinning within herself of Insight/Instinct. In her devotion to assimilate her influence over her brood of adolescent students who are at the mercy of her care, and in her insistence to spread her influence to them with utmost gusto, Miss Brodie is one of the most naïve and deluded characters invented in fiction.
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Wonderful! A note-perfect, densely-woven little novel about an extraordinary, and extraordinarily strange, Scottish schoolmistress and the long-lasting effect she has on her favorite pupils. Candida McWilliams, who composed the introduction to my copy, writes, "So distinguished a technician is Muriel Spark that one may take practically any section of the book and it will provide metaphor for the entire book itself." She's absolutely right. For a book that lasts just one-hundred-and-thirty pages, "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" lends itself to a remarkable number of alternate readings. It's a portrait of its marvelously eccentric title character and a commentary on the shortcomings of a "woman's education" and a critique of twentieth century totalitarianism and a meditation on art and its uses and a love-letter to shabby-genteel Edinburgh and a smutty, funny sex comedy all at once. However, I particularly enjoyed sensitive Spark's depiction of adolescence, a time when everyone can, and maybe should, be "known for something" and the world more or less revolves around gossip and social gamesmanship. As lighthearted as "Miss Brodie" seems, though, I admire Spark for presenting her readers with a character like Miss Jean Brodie. From a certain perspective, this constitutes an absolutely enormous risk. Miss Brodie, who rejects conventional morality, considers herself cultured and extraordinarily perceptive, and years for artistically-induced ecstasy, seems, at times, to be a cruel caricature of a certain kind of female reader. Like John Kennedy O'Toole, whose Ignatius J. Riley lampooned self-styled intellectuals, Spark might be seeking to challenge her readers with a cartoonishly distorted personification of their own worst intellectual habits. That she manages to pull this high-wire act off without once deviating from her perfectly pitched high-camp tone is nothing short of amazing. "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" is highly recommended.
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I first encountered The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in 1969 when I viewed the British drama film, based on the novel of the same name by Muriel Spark. Like many others I was mesmerized by Maggie Smith's Academy-Award winning performance as the imperious Miss Jean Brodie who lectured and directed her girls. The original novel by Muriel Spark had been turned into a play by Jay Presson Allen, which opened in London in 1966 with Vanessa Redgrave and on Broadway in 1968, with Zoe Caldwell in the title role, a performance for which she won a Tony Award. Allen adapted the play into the film, which was directed by Ronald Neame. In addition to Maggie Smith there was also a notable performance from Pamela Franklin as Sandy, for which she won the National Board of Review award for Best Supporting Actress. It is also remembered for the beautiful song by Rod McKuen, "Jean".It was more than a decade before I actually got around to reading the original novel, and as is the case even with very good films the novel was considerably better. Muriel Spark explores the complex morally ambiguous lives of her charcters through a medley of straight narrative and flash-forwards that propel the reader through the lives of Miss Brodie's girls. "Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she will be mine for life," says the elegant Miss Brodie, the 1930s Edinburgh schoolmistress who is devoting her "prime" to six hand-picked, 10-year-old students. She demonstrates an unorthodox devotion that values art above history and dwells upon her personal love life and travels. The author breaks into the novel to tell the reader, in brief paragraph-long omniscient interruptions just what will become of the girls in the future. Miss Brodie's attempt to inspire seems to lead to unintended consequences, but it is not clear exactly what her original intent was beyond, perhaps, merely dazzling these young girls. As a result a sort of melancholy emerges, but it is the vigor and beauty of Spark's prose make this a great novel. It not surprising that it was included on the best 100 lists of both Time Magazine and the Modern Library.
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This novel is genius. It's short enough to enjoy in a couple of days (or one), and strikingly original in it's prose and conception.
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Told in a mix of timelines and a whirlwind of delicious characters this is a funny, intelligent and exuberant story of the "Brodie Set". Miss Brodie is an unorthodox teacher at a girls school in the 1930s and she (as she likes to remind people) is in her Prime. Her favourite pupils are groomed to be the crème de la crème: the Brodie set. 'This is Stanley Baldwin who got in as Prime Minister and got out again ere long,' said Miss Brodie. 'Miss Mackay retains him on the wall because she believes in the slogan "Safety First". But Safety does not come first. Goodness, Trust and Beauty come first. Follow me.' It's a damn hard book to review, short and chaotic it's full of pitch perfect, intelligent and humorous writing. I cannot really find anything to pick out. From the intriguing and enticing way Spark introduces the Brodie set by narrowing them to a simple skill (Rose is famous for her sex appeal, Monica for her maths and her anger) to extra tension of the ominous betrayal and the bitter-sweet edge of future reality. It is a book of many layers and complexity but it is never confusing or tiresome and oddly, although very much of it's time it doesn't feel dated. "We shall discuss tomorrow night the persons who oppose me' said Miss Brodie. 'But rest assured they shall not succeed.''No,' said everyone. 'No, Of course they won't.''Not while I am in my prime. It is important to recognize the years of one's prime, always remember that,..' Highly recommended. It's my second attempt at Muriel Spark, I didn’t quite gel with the character in [Drivers Seat] but I loved this.
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I just finished this 1001 book, and I felt quite disappointed. I thought the writing was at times repetitive, and the characterisation poorly executed, overall. For me, Jean Brodie's character was simply foolish and pathetic, but I think my memory of the film where Maggie Smith plays that part has influenced my judgment, as she was quite compelling in the role. The narrative was written in an interesting manner, as TQD says, signalling the outcome for the various characters. This device can be at times extremely irritating, but in this instance it works, as a linear narrative would have made the tale quite dull.Having dissed the book, I must say that I was drawn in to it, despite my expectations not being met.
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Intricately put together, but alienatingly mannered and lacking in narrative drive. One of the many books that make me wonder whether people who describe it as "humorous" are doing so in order to appear clever, rather than because while reading it they actually, well, laughed.
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The third book for the twenty-four hour readathon! I have a World Book Night copy, given to me by my mother. Otherwise, I doubt I'd have read this without someone giving me a push toward it.

I don't know what I think of it, though. The character of Miss Jean Brodie is sort of fascinating, the things she says and believes, and the psychology of it all is actually quite interesting, but... It didn't really catch fire for me. The introduction by Candia McWilliam suggests that for some people it does, when they're fairly young even in many cases, but not so for me.
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I liked this even better than the movie—everything was a bit clearer and richer: my distaste for Jean Brodie, the growing divergence of the girls' private feelings from their subservient demeanor, the perspectives into the minds of Miss Brodie's adult acquaintances. Whereas my admiration for Maggie Smith's abilities made her the most interesting part of the film for me, I found myself more interested in the growth of the girls as individuals and their life choices in the book.The book is not long and Ms. Spark has achieved such a good flow between the school-days perspective and that of Sandy's memories, and between the stories of the six girls, that it almost seemed like a short story.
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I need to mull this book over a bit, so my rating may change. Miss Brodie is a bit strange, especially towards the end. Sandie's internal imaginings were amusing, amusing but I didn't really understand her feelings about Miss Brodie at the end...
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Still not sure what I made of this. Mostly a bit disappointed as so many people seem to love the book and her style of writing, but I wasn't that keen. I found some parts amusing, mostly how she referred to people "Rosie, who was well known for sex" consistently throughout the book, but I found the characters shallow and really didn't warm to Jean Brodie at all.
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An entertaining story, and a simple escape for an evening's read. Spark's humor here is delicate, and her character studies here both remarkable and engrossing. Worth the wandering.
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A book that was on many people’s recommended reads lists. Jean Brodie is a teacher at a girls’ school with a following. She’s sharp and well-read and clever, which goes against the grain of the educational institution, but she is also flawed and leads her students onto paths that do not always serve them or the world well. Why is it when we find someone we admire we seem to ignore the parts that don’t work for us? A cautionary tale, in a sense, for me.
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This best known work by Murial Spark, is a story of a woman teacher, Miss Jean Brodie who teaches at an girls day school in Edinburgh, Scotland during the thirties. Miss Brodie is unconventional to say the least. The story is told through the girls of the Brodie set, mostly by Sandy. Miss Brodie states; “Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life”. The book starts out by introducing us to the girls along with a prophetic statement about each of the girls. Miss Brodie teaches strongly in the areas of art and history and her own personal travel stories and neglects the subjects of math and science. Early on the reader learns that someone betrays Miss Brodie. There are some flash forwards in the story as well as some details in Miss Brodie’s life that are slowly reviewed. The main focus starts out with Miss Brodie’s love life. The girls are eleven in the beginning. There is a love triangle with Miss Brodie, the art teacher and the music teacher. Inserted into the story are some references to Mussolini, Hitler and to Franco. Major themes relate to individualism and education. Individualism has been taken away from the Brodie set. A teacher has used them to live her own life vicariously through them. The other major theme is the differences between curriculum and cultural learning. The question is, was Miss Brodie betrayed or did she finally trip herself up with her influence over young the young girls? This is a great book for discussion and I experienced it rather than just read it, which makes it a 5 star book for me.
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Miss Jean Brodie is an teacher at a girl's school who has a coterie of young girls that she teaches whom she has decided are la "crème de la crème". Always reminding them that she is in her prime, Miss Brodie spends her time trying to mold these girls into young Brodies, and has definite notions about the meaning of education -- to the extent to which later, after they've left her, she begins to try to live her life somewhat vicariously through the lives of some of the "Brodie Set." It is this which leads one of them to Miss Brodie's "betrayal," and forced retirement.There are a lot of interesting themes to explore in this book, and it has been well covered, so I won't go into any depth here; I thought one of the most interesting ideas was the recurring theme of Miss Brodie's fascination with fascism -- one could easily see after reading this book why she was so taken with Mussolini and the black shirts in the 1930s (at the time in which this book was set). I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions, but I will say that this was a fabulous book and you will continue to think about it long after you've finished it. Don't look to it for plot, so much, but rather look at the characters. The wonderful job the author does with the characters is what makes this book so incredibly good.
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Miss Jean Brodie plies her unorthodox teaching methods at the sedate Marcia Blaine School for Girls in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she is in her prime, ”the moment one is born to.” In the 1930s, between-the-wars, she was not that different from other spinsters, teaching elsewhere in Scotland. But she just didn’t fit in with the traditional concepts that prevailed at Marcia Blaine, and the head mistress is bound and determined to find a way to rid the school, and her chosen girls, otherwise known as the Brodie set, of Miss Brodie.But her set, her personally chosen crème de la crème consists of six girls who are completely devoted to their teacher. And yet one will betray her. Who? And how? Although the betrayal is revealed fairly early on in the narrative, Spark takes the reader back and forth in time, exposing events that lead up to the forced retirement of the instructor and the later resultant lives of the Brodie set. And why does the teacher reveal so much of her personal life to her young charges? It doesn’t take long for one of her students to figure out that Miss Brodie has taken one teacher as a lover, while actually being in love with another teacher. She is at once both a sympathetic romantic but also has a dark, calculating, self-centered side.Spark’s prose is divine throughout:”Mary MacGregor, although she lived her twenty-fourth year, never quite realized that Jean Brodie’s confidences were not shared with the rest of the staff and that her love story was given out only to her pupils. She had not thought much about Jean Brodie, certainly never disliked her, when, a year after the outbreak of the Second World War, she joined the Wrens, and was clumsy and incompetent, and was much blamed. On one occasion of real misery---when her first and last boyfriend, a corporal whom she had known for two weeks, deserted her by failing to show up at an appointed place and failing to come near her again---she thought back to see if she had ever really been happy in her life; it occurred to her then that the first years with Miss Brodie, sitting listening to all those stories and opinions which had nothing to do with the ordinary world, had been the happiest time of her life.” (Page 24)The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is full of dark satire, complex characters that are not necessarily likable, and intricate plotting. Highly recommended.
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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark, is a wonderful little book about Miss Brodie, a teacher at a girl's school in 1930's Edinburgh, and her "set" - the group of five girls who Miss Brodie personally chose as her crème de la crème. Miss Brodie's teaching style is eccentric, with a focus on literature, art, music and stories about her personal life. As the girls mature, they speculate about Miss Brodie's personal life and eventually become embroiled in it. And in the end, one of Miss Brodie's set betrays her.The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is about the influence that a teacher can have on impressionable minds. All of the girls are shaped by Miss Brodie and bear that influence throughout their lives. Spark's tale is not so much plot-driven as character-driven. Throughout the book we learn about the tales the girls - especially Sandy - weave about their teacher and how those stories morph and change through the years. Personally, I love Spark's writing style - she is humorous and notes the tiniest details which help to define a person. She repeats certain phrases throughout the book, illuminating the way that individual details help make up our knowledge of a person.
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I read it as a bitter-sweet tragedy of characters restricted by the realities of the 30's that we in the post 60's era barely understand. Nor do we perhaps appreciate the challenges that Jean is undertaking nor its limited application except for a privileged few say such as Muriel Spark herself...
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"These girls formed the Brodie Set. ...At that time they had been immediately recognisable as Miss Brodie's pupils, being vastly informed on a lot of subjects irrelevant to the authorised curriculum, as the headmistress said, and useless to the school as a school. These girls were discovered to have heard of the Buchmanites and Mussolini, the Italian Renaissance painters, the advantages to the skin of cleansing cream and witch hazel over honest soap and water, and the word "menarche"; the interior decoration of the London house of the author of Winnie the Pooh had been described to them, as had the love lives of Charlotte Bronte and Miss Brodie herself."This was a delightful audio, read by a narrator who is beginning to feel like an old friend. The story takes place in Edinburgh in the 1930s, primarily at the conservative Marsha Blaine School for Girls. Miss Brodie dedicates her prime to the education of her girls, of which she reminds them frequently. Among her class of 11 year-olds she selects a few girls -- to be forever known as "The Brodie Set" to become her special projects and confidantes; the "creme de la creme." The story is told in layers which flash forward and back through time as the girls, particularly Sandy, mature and look back on the influence of Miss Brodie in her prime. Most of the staff, with the exception of two male teachers, distrust Miss Brodie with her unorthodox teaching style and suspected love affairs, and the headmistress never ceases her campaign to coax or force one of the set to divulge incriminating information. When Miss Brodie is betrayed by one of her girls, she is forced to retire, and never gets over the betrayal. The book is both witty and reflective. A small gem.
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Miss Jean Brodie teaches at a small Scottish day school for girls. She uses unusual teaching methods such as telling her impressionable prepubescent girls romantic stories and taking them on excursions to art galleries and plays. Her favorite pupils are referred to as the "Brodie set" a group of girls especially selected because of their parents love of Miss Brodie's methods or just indifference. She constantly reminds the girls how lucky they are to know her while she is "in her prime" and manipulates them to her own ends.When Miss Brodie continually reminds her girls that she is "in her prime" the author is alluding to her being a woman past marrying age that is trying to hold on to her influence and sex appeal. She is an egotistical spinster who uses her "Brodie set" as confidants and co- conspirators. They keep her secrets and help her to keep her job. She influences her students for the better or worse. She instills poise and confidence in some of her girls and they look back to there time with her with fondness. She also lets some of the girls down like the harassed Mary Macgregor and the misguided Joyce Emily.Miss Brodie is an idealistic admirer of the fascists. She feels persecuted by the head mistress of the school and she in turn persecutes one of her students, Mary Macgregor, by constantly blaming her for anything that goes wrong. Poor Mary is so dim that she takes the abuse. The other pupils copy the behavior and tease Mary to please their teacher.This is a very sexual novel. When we first meet the young pupils they are 10 or 11 years old and are both curious and naive about sex. The girls have conversations and write stories elaborating on the tales Miss Brodie tells of her past lover who died in World War I. Later Miss Brodie manipulates the girls into covering for her new affair and even encourages one pupil to start an affair with one of the teachers. This short novel is packed with meaning. I am impressed by Muriel Spark's economy of words, yet so much is said. By using repetition we learn so much about the characters personality and motives. This is a very well written novel and I look forward to reading more of her works in the future.
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Miss Jean Brodie is a schoolteacher at a private girl's school in Edinburgh, Scotland. She has unusual teaching methods, and believes that science, mathematics and other items on the curriculum should take a back seat to teaching about beauty and culture. During class, she is perfectly capable of telling her students to open their math books in case the headmistress drops by and proceed to tell them all about her recent trip to Italy—this is the 1930s and she is a fan of Mussolini's "Black Shirts”—and about her love life. The story is centred on "The Brodie Set", a group of six girls who've attended her classes in primary school and have kept in touch with Miss Brodie as they grew up, visiting her at home for tea our accompanying her to cultural outings. Each of the girls has a particular characteristic she is known for. For instance, when we are introduced to them, we find out that Jenny is famous for her beauty, Sandy is famous for her "small, almost nonexistent, eyes", Monica is famous for mathematics and her anger, and Rose is famous for Sex, and these descriptions are repeated throughout the novel to form a comic motif. The novel travels backward and forward in time, and we know early on that one of the girls eventually betrayed Miss Brodie—the school has been trying to get rid of her for a long time, and the headmistress has questioned each of Miss Brodie's former students repeatedly to try to find something to pin on her, though of course we only find out who delivered the damning information toward the end, by which time we've learned how most of the characters have fared into their adult lives and the extent of the influence Miss Brodie exerted on them.I read this novel a couple of years ago and it was my first foray into Muriel Spark's writing. I can't say I liked it much back then. I could see there was humour here, but it failed to amuse me, and it probably didn't help that I didn't like Miss Brodie much—no doubt her fascist leanings didn't help much. I was disappointed, as was expecting to love this book based on much of what I'd read about it. I decided to revisit it this year, on audio format this time, and while the narrator Miriam Margolyes did a fine job and I got a kick out of hearing the Scottish pronunciations (I'd forgotten that Edinburgh is pronounced "Edinborough"), I didn't get much more out of it than I did the first time. I wouldn't want to discourage others from reading this book, because it's got lots going for it, but if I were to recommend good places to start with Spark's writing based on my personal preferences so far, I'd sooner recommend Memento Mori or Loitering with Intent, which I both found excellent and very funny.
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I discovered this one from the Girlybooks community here at LT. It's set in the 1930s at a girl's school around a group of young girls described as "Brodie's set." Miss Jean Brodie is a teacher at the school who believes, obviously, that she is in her prime. She teaches the girls what she thinks is really important: how to take care of their faces, their hands, and about Miss Brodie's love life.This is a quick book, it can easily be read on a rainy Saturday (as today was) and is laugh out loud funny in places. I would definitely recommend.
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Read it when I was new in US. Can't remember. Need to revisit it.
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At under 200 pages, it's really more of a novella, which I finished quite quickly. I enjoyed the book, but it's not what I expected. Since, I'm not exactly sure what I expected, that's not really fair to say.The book is set in Edinburgh beginning in the years before WWII and continues back and forth in time until 1939. Miss Jean Brodie is an eccentric school mistress at the traditional Marcia Blaine School for Girls. She doesn't associate with the other teachers in the junior school, and she is regarded with suspicion by most everyone at the school, including the head mistress. Miss Brodie ignores the structured curriculum taught by the other teachers and prefers to teach her girls about life, art, and culture mainly through stories about herself. Her ideas on everything from education to religion and sex clash with the majority of the people she comes into contact with.The story is told in flashbacks and recounts the years of one particular set of her girls known as the Brodie set. Miss Brodie likes to have control over her girls and be involved with their lives inside and outside of school. In fact, it's almost as if she plays God in the girls' lives -- pronouncing who will succeed and who will fail. The girls are loyal to Miss Brodie and support her when she faces attack from the headmistress. However, one of the girls ends up 'betraying' Miss Brodie. At least that's the way Miss Brodie sees it at the time.The book is humorous at times, and I'm anxious to see how everyone else feels about this book when the discussion takes place on July 12. If you're interested, come on over and join in the discussion.
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The first time I read this book it made me gasp. Spark's characterizations are certainly adept and insightful, but her prose is quite amazing as well. She is an expert stylist. Aside from the joy of reading a superb and classic novel of the second half of the twentieth century, you can read it merely for the precision and imagination of the sentences themselves.
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“Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life.” Firstly let me say that this is not your ordinary schoolday tale, there is something a little sinister about it. The story is set in a posh Edinburgh day school and set around a group of schoolgirls the 'Brodie Set' who are selected then taken under the wing of their tutor Miss Jean Brodie. Jean Brodie is something of an outcast within the school she does not stick strictly to the curriculum preferring instead to tell tales of her travels abroad and tries to instill a love of the Arts into 'her' girls by taking them to museums, art galleries etc preferring individualism over teamwork, all of which puts her at odds with headmistress who is looking for a way to get rid of her. Yet in many ways she is merely tring to give them a more rounded education rather than just getting them to pass exams. Unfortunately Miss Brodie is also a fan of Fascism, which seems strange given her belief in individualism, and it is her politics which leads to her downfall. The tale moves through the girls education from 11 to 17 with all that teenage angst but is also interwoven with sections of them as adults. Miss Brodie seems a little sinister as she tries to mould and influence her 'Set' into her own image and can be seen as controlling but I also see her as cutting a rather sad figure. She seems incapable of having a real relationship with another adult, she is at odds with her colleagues and even goes as far as trying to use one of the girls to have an affair with Mr Lloyd as a way of having one herself with him by proxy. In the end her scheming fails as the girls eventually go their own ways and she is eventually betrayed by one of them rather than be allowed to repeat the process with another group.This is an interesting tale and perhaps the moral of it is that you should not put a person on a pedestal as they are likely to eventually disappoint. The tale is beautifully written with with touches of comedy as well as darkness througthout but sadly not really my cup of tea.
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I like the way that the story gradually unfolds, you're aware of some of the events right from the beginning but it all comes together slowly to create one big picture.I think this would be my next choice for a Book Tree Book; I love the writing style, and there are some fantastic lines in it.I like the way it shows the girls growing up and the ways in which they change - by the end of the book you can really see Miss Brodie's influence on them. I wonder how things would have been different if they hadn't been part of her 'set'.
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For a book that I really just picked up on a whim, because I'd thought to read it idly at a few points over the past few years, this really paid off. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a modern classic (to the degree that I read the Modern Classics edition), which is usually enough to put me off something, but perhaps I should reconsider that if this delightful, slim little novel is what I'm missing out on. For something that was a scant 123 pages, there's a surprising amount of depth here.Our Miss Jean Brodie here is a teacher at a fairly good private school in Edinburgh in the mid-1930s, who has different ideas about teaching than her colleagues. Thus, her headmistress at the school would like to find some reason to kick her out, but it's hard to find purchase among her students to find grounds to do so, since just being unorthodox isn't grounds as long as the students are learning. And her students, and particularly her own Brodie Set of six girls that she has decided to devote her prime to, hold her in high esteem, taking in all the lessons she cares to give, and of course much more from her own life, her lost love in WWI, and then her new romantic connections to two different teachers now in her prime. But in the end, one of them comes to betray her, and she is cast out. How and why this comes to pass, and the growth of the girls, that forms the bulk of the story.Saying that one of her set betrays her isn't really a spoiler, mind - we hear of this quite early, and find out the identity of the betrayer fairly early on as well, even if the betrayal itself only comes at the end. Spark writes her way through with a wide, knowing eye over the sweep of the years, so that we see the roots of the students' connections with her, starting off in junior school, and then on through the rest of their lives, just with making casual references to the future, and back again. This style actually does a great job of building along to the resolution while letting us see the different characters and how their personalities and lives were shaped, by themselves and by Miss Brodie. It allows for a lot of characterization, given the shortness of the book.As much as I had interest in the story, though, the writing and the characters really did sell it. The book really is quite funny, for Miss Brodie's teachings, all the Primes and the meanings of education and the nature of her classes, how she cuts through life. What the girls take away from it, what they actually do with the teaching and what they think about, is often presented humorously, as well. But there is a great feeling of psychological reality to it all, both for Miss Brodie and her love interests, and also for the different girls. The thematic structure, of connection and trying to find and protect your role, is really well done, and the characters we see a lot of definitely have complex minds. They're real people, and I imagine this is a book that would stand up quite well to re-reading. There're lots of good metaphor and psychology stuff to dig into.Anyway, for its size - really, you can probably knock this off in an easy few hours - there's a lot of humor and amusement to get out of this, and a lot of meat, as well. The story's got a real spark, and I really enjoyed it. Definitely this is one that's worth a quick try, to enjoy and to admire.
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I hated the film and television adaptions, expected to loathe the book but found it interesting clever and enjoyable. Miss Brodie is an evil fascist little madam who damages the lives of the girls she tries to make her own.Now what else has Muriel Spark written?
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