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The Finishing School: A Novel

The Finishing School: A Novel - Muriel Spark A mention in James Wood's How Fiction Works prompted me to pick up a couple Sparks from the library. Of course the mention was of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, but that wasn't on the shelves. Instead I got The Finishing School, which turned out to be her last novel. She was in her mid 80s when she wrote it.Does that mean it's a fuddy-duddy prim tale of old-fashioned people fighting to teach the kids (the kids these days!) how to be prim and old-fashioned? Hardly. Rowland and Nina run "College Sunrise," a scattershot affair of only 9 students currently located on the shores of Lake Geneva. The major plot involves Rowland's desultory attempts to write a novel and their derailment by his jealousy in the face of 17-year-old student Chris' seeming success in the same pursuit. Students sleep with gardeners, teachers sleep with locals, authors sleep with publishers: everything happens in this book except any indication of actual education being imparted or received. Well, education in the school of life, perhaps.In length and (lack of) heft it's really a novella, and the prose is so simple and sparse that it feels even lighter still. But in that same simplicity it approaches the abstraction of Henry Green. Good fun, and I'm sure I'll be reading more of Muriel Spark in the future.