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Maggie Smith's representation of Miss Jean Brodie in the film from the fifties, made me want to read this text. It didn't disappoint. The language is crisp and dry and unforgiving and the reader moves through a series of responses towards the flawed protagonist. None of the girls is painted as a likeable character and therefore our sympathy for them at the hands of this fascist, misguided, arrogant educator is limited.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I've lost count of the times I have read this remarkable novel - so short, so profound, so dense with meaning, so lightly written, witty and original to its very bones: a miracle. In truth, there is, out there somewhere, an unabridged reading by Geraldine MacEwan that is alive to every word and comma - a virtuoso performance - but the present reader is no slouch either.
9 of 11 people found this review helpful
"I shall remain at this education factory where my duty lies. There needs must be a leaven in the lump. Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life. The gang who oppose me shall not succeed."
- Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
Published in 1961 and set in a Scottish girl's school in the pre-World War II period (1930s) when Fascism was favorable (among those in their Prime) and on the rise, 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' tells the story of an unconventional teacher and her influence on a group or six girls (more probably, but the story focuses on six). It isn't original to say this, but it does read a bit like a female version of Dead Poet's Society, or perhaps A Separate Peace, but no not quite Lord of the Flies. Emotionally, the book resonates like Madame Bovary. Perhaps, one of the reasons the book vibrated so strongly with me is one of the pupils of Miss Brodie in her Prime reminds me of how I imagine my wife was in her tweens (Sandy).
A couple things sold me on this book. I loved its style and prose, and was enraptured by Miss Brodie with her unconventional, romantic, and desperate need to matter, to influence, to be something. As fallible as she is, and as amoral as methods (both in love and politics) become, there is something VERY human about her. The other character I loved was Sandy. Influenced by Miss Brodie, in her Prime, but just not in the way Miss Brodie intended, Sandy's romantic view of life mirrors in some ways Miss Brodie. But I loved the 10-year old Sandy with her wild fantasies about Alan Breck (see Kidnapped) or Mr. Rochester (see Jane EyreJane Eyre). Later her fantasy turns its full attention on Miss Brodie and her lovers. It is perfect.
Anyway, I read this because my natural man tends to gravitate more towards books written by men (just the statistics of classical books would do this), so when I think about it, I try and read a book I would normally pass over. I'm glad I found the radical Miss Jean Brodie while I was in my prime.
17 of 19 people found this review helpful
A wonderfully written, intellectually complex, and insightful book. 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' is a cautionary tale about what it is to teach and what it is to learn. Unfortunately for those who would teach, our best pupils may understand and apply what we teach more than we realize or welcome.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful