Book Review and Giveaway: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

     I’m not so sure I liked Miss Brodie.  A month ago, when I won a free copy of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark, I was elated!  First of all, I won something!  Hooray!  And second of all, it was a book I was excited to read!  Double hooray!

Here’s how it all happened.  My friend, Marie, over at Little Interpretations always finds the coolest things book and library related to blog about!  One of the extremely cool things she did this year was participate in World Book Night.  WBN is an event that celebrates great reading by giving away 40,000 copies of each of the 25 chosen titles to distribute.  WBN books are meant to be shared.  Marie spent a few days giving away free books to people at coffee shops, bus stops, and everywhere else she went to encourage reading.  And of course, she gave one away through her blog, to me!

Here’s the thing about Miss Brodie, you can never quite pin point whether you like her or hate her.  It’s clear she’s a woman of influence, a schoolmistress in Edinburgh, Scotland, she regales her pupils with “history” lessons about past loves!  She keeps an arithmetic question written on the board in case the headmistress walks in.  She has a prize group of pupils known as the Brodie set, and takes them out to experience culture in art museums, operas, ballets.  She’s quick witted and can interject her languid tales with schoolmistress rules without batting an eye.

“Hail Caesar!” she cried again, turning radiantly to the window light, as if Caesar sat there…”Whoever has opened the window has opened it too wide,” said Miss Brodie.  “Six inches is perfectly adequate.  More is vulgar.”

You see, she invites you in, and can very easily, with little effort, boot you right back out!  She’s a complex literary character.  And much of the book encompasses her steady grasp over the minds of her Brodie set beyond their school girl days.  The author, Muriel Spark, has done a fascinating job creating her characters.  The girls for instance are introduced as Monica: famous mostly for mathematics and for her anger; Rose:  famous for sex; Eunice:  famous for gymnastics and swimming; Sandy:  famous for her small, non-existent eyes and her enrapturing vowel sounds; Jenny:  famous for her grace, and Mary:  “whose fame rested on being a silent lump, a nobody whom everybody could blame.”

The ongoing plight in the book is that the girls are both influenced by and keep secrets from Miss Brodie.  The headmistress, Miss Mackay, would be all too happy to have Miss Brodie gone from the Marcia Blaine School for Girls, and so begins the battle over these young pupils’ minds and loyalties.  The book carries a little something for everyone, and is extremely comical!  One example, is when Sandy and Jenny take turns writing a story about Miss Brodie’s love life and pretend one of the girls is captured and used as ransom until Miss Brodie proves her love for the man.

Jenny wrote:  With one movement he flung her to the farthest end of the hut and strode out into the moonlight and his strides made light of the drifting snow.

“Put in about his boots,” said Sandy.

Jenny wrote:  His high boots flashed in the moonlight.

“There are too many moonlights,” Sandy said, “but we can sort that later when it comes to publication.”

Miss Brodie leaves no subject unturned:  stories of war, stories of love, stories of politics and art and theater.  She has an opinion on everything, and so she should she is in her prime!

In honor of World Book Night, I’m hosting the same giveaway!  All you have to do is leave a comment below and at the end of the week I’ll do a random drawing of all the names and give away a free copy of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie!  Keep the read-a-thon going!  This book came from Scotland to Wisconsin, where will it go next? 

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12 responses

  1. Ah, I love that book! And I love it so much precisely because you can never wholly like or hate Jean Brodie. I love complex characters who are neither good nor evil. Also, she’s a little manic, and Muriel Sparks does such a fantastic job depicting this complicated woman and the girls who flitter around her, that you just can’t stop reading no matter how much Jean Brodie pisses you off.

    So yeah, I’m commenting, but don’t put me in for the drawing, ’cause I already own a copy. Just wanted stop by and add my two cents.

    1. Thanks for sharing your love of a great book. She’s definitely a complex character.

  2. I’ve never read this book…surprised that it’s the same age I am! I remember a movie that came out too when I was a kid: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064840/

    Wendy

    1. Yah, I’ve seen the film version before I read the book. It stars Maggie Smith as Jean Brodie. Even in the film, you don’t know if you like her. But it’s a fun read.

  3. Miss Brodie might not be all that, but Rose sounds like a keeper. 😉

    1. If I were Miss Brodie, I’d pair you up with Jenny to teach you a lesson! lol.

  4. […] don’t miss out on a chance to win a free book!  Read my review of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, leave a comment, and you’re automatically entered to be a part of the World Book Night […]

  5. How did I miss adding this book to my collection? I’m fascinated with literary fiction, and I’ve got some catching up to do. 🙂 Great review!

    1. It’s such a totally unique character, I’d love for everyone of my blogging buddies to check it out and share! What a book discussion that would be!

  6. […] “Book Review of Giveaway: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” from Jess Witkin’s Happin… […]

  7. Hi Jess,

    Thank you for the mention!

    Fab review. The complexity of Miss Brodie is what I liked about the book – you’re never quite sure how you’re supposed to react to her. Another Spark book, The Driver’s Seat, is a lot darker than this story, but the character, Lise, is equally as complex.

    Thanks for passing the book on – that’s what its all about 🙂

    Marie

    1. Thanks for the chance to read a book I may not have picked up without reading your blog! The book was sent to Chicago, Illinois so the read-a-thon continues!

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