Sunday 29 April 2012

The Finishing School

Firstly thanks to Stuck in a Book for both the challenge this week and the help with the image alignment. The Finishing School was my second book for Muriel Spark Reading Week. 

"Célestine spread out the cups and saucers and the plates of biscuits which began to disappear even as she did so. One of the girls poured the tea, another handed round the cups. All was right with the world." (p.61)
This rather sums up the book for me, and partly sums up why I did not care for it. Set in a finishing school and concerned with Rowland and Nina who run the school and the arrival of Chris, a precociously talented writer, I found the characters to be shallow and self-involved and the world of privilege and entitlement tends to bore me. It was all too self-consciously bohemian. 

Rowland is trying to write a novel, Chris is actually writing one, a jealous rivalry ensues. I did not for one minute think, despite his continual fantasises, that Rowland would kill Chris, in fact the sexual obsession was a definite undercurrent all along. The minor players were a bit clichéd and only appeared to prop up the story. I did not like Nina much either and did not get to grips with the relationship between the two of them. The atmosphere of the school and the story felt as if they were much older and more experienced, when in fact they were very young; the whole set-up just felt a little implausible. The writing felt a bit dead; Rowland did this, or said this, or felt this, then Nina said this, then Chris did this. It jumped between the three of them but I never felt that I got to know any of them or felt any engagement with their point of view or motivation. All in all I was very disappointed after the other of her books that I have read. Never mind, I'll try a different one.

My lovely sister sent me a copy of Emma Donoghue's The Sealed Letter which I have started and I also decided to shuffle up the TBR pile and picked out 'Nothing to do but stay' by Carrie Young, a true story of homesteading in early 20th century North Dakota.


  1. So sorry this one didn't work for you, but thanks for participating in the reading week :)

  2. I have a stack of Spark on my night table including this one. Oh, dear, I will give it a crack but I can see for the very reasons you did not care for it I will also likely find it tiresome. I shall come back and let you know.

  3. I began reading FS this morning. Read faster, started skimming, finally jumped to the end. Laughed out loud and said, "Tosh!"


Thanks for stopping by. Thoughts, opinions and suggestions (reading or otherwise) always most welcome.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin