Muriel Spark - Memento Mori - Little, Brown Book Group

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    • ISBN:9780349010342
    • Publication date:03 May 2018
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    • ISBN:9781405530507
    • Publication date:09 May 2013
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Memento Mori

By Muriel Spark

  • Paperback
  • £8.99

A brilliant, daring and darkly funny novel by Muriel Spark, 'mistress of the highest high comedy' (The Times)

Unforgettably astounding and a joy to read, Memento Mori is considered by many to be the greatest novel by the wizardly Dame Muriel Spark. In late 1950s London, something uncanny besets a group of elderly friends: an insinuating voice on the telephone informs each, "Remember you must die." Their geriatric feathers are soon thoroughly ruffled by these seemingly supernatural phone calls, and in the resulting flurry many old secrets are dusted off. Beneath the once decorous surface of their lives, unsavories like blackmail and adultery are now to be glimpsed. As spooky as it is witty, poignant and wickedly hilarious, Memento Mori may ostensibly concern death, but it is a book which leaves one relishing life all the more.

Biographical Notes

Muriel Spark, D.B.E, C. Litt, was born in Edinburgh in 1918. A poet and novelist, she also wrote children's books, radio plays, a comedy, 'Doctors of Philosophy', first performed in London in 1962, and biographies. She is best known for her stories and many successful novels, including Memento Mori, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Loitering With Intent, The Comforters, A Far Cry from Kensington and The Public Image. For her long career of literary achievement, Muriel Spark won international praise and many awards, including the David Cohen British Literature Award, the T. S. Eliot Award, the Saltire Prize, the Boccaccio Prize for European Literature, the Gold Pen Award and the Italia Prize for dramatic radio. Muriel Spark was given an honorary doctorate of Letters from a number of universities, London, Edinburgh and Oxford among these. She died in 2006.

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9781844085521
  • Publication date: 04 Feb 2010
  • Page count: 240
  • Imprint: Virago
There is a Waugh-like brilliance to this novel, in the easy economical narrative, the continuous invention producing a series of surprises, the well-cut dialogue, the controlled tone . . . the most remarkable of Miss Spark's achievements. Nothing is forced, least of all the humour — V. S. Naipaul
I am reading a trio of novels by Muriel Spark, a marvellously witty English writer . . . Her best, I think, is Memento Mori, which is chillingly brilliant — Tennessee Williams
The greatest Scottish novelist of modern times . . . My admiration for Spark's contribution to world literature knows no bounds. She was peerless, sparkling, inventive and intelligent - the creme de la creme — Ian Rankin
Spark is a writer who can take the meditative and make it mercurially funny, playful and mischievious — Ali Smith
There is a Waugh-like brilliance to this novel, in the easy economical narrative, the continuous invention producing a series of surprises, the well-cut dialogue, the controlled tone. This last is the most remarkable of Miss Spark's achievements. Nothing is forced, least of all the humour — V. S. Naipaul, NEW STATESMAN
I am reading a trio of novels by Muriel Spark, a marvelously witty English writer, one of the few lady writers I like to read. Her best, I think, is Memento Mori, which is chillingly brilliant — Tennessee Williams
This funny and macabre book has delighted me as much as any novel that I have read since the war — Graham Greene
A brilliant and singularly gruesome achchievement — Evelyn Waugh
Virago

The Incendiaries

R. O. Kwon
Authors:
R. O. Kwon

'Absolutely electric' Garth Greenwell 'A major talent' Financial TimesPhoebe Lin and Will Kendall fall in love at university.Phoebe is a glamorous girl who doesn't tell anyone she blames herself for her mother's recent death.Will is a misfit scholarship boy who transfers from Bible college.But a charismatic former student draws Phoebe into his cult - an extremist group with secretive ties to North Korea. When the group bombs several buildings in the name of faith, killing five people, Phoebe disappears. Will devotes himself to finding her, tilting into obsession himself, discovering how far we can go when we lose what we love. 'An important new writer' The Times 'R. O. Kwon is the real deal' Lauren Groff

Virago

Rebel Women

Rosalind Miles
Authors:
Rosalind Miles

More than twenty-five years ago The Women's History of the World, by the brilliant historian, journalist and academic, Rosalind Miles, burst upon the world. It was instantly lauded and applauded by everyone from A.S. Byatt ('Witty, balanced, inexorable . . . and splendid') to the Washington Post ('an inspiration'). The book went on to be a longstanding Sunday Times bestseller, was translated into almost 40 foreign languages and became a New York Times bestseller. Now it is time for Rebel Women: All you wanted to know about women's history from 1800 to the modern day. This is history as made by women: famous, infamous and little known, whose actions changed the course of the world.We begin with the French Revolution when one woman took on the Fraternite of man, then it's off to America to round up the other rebels who paved the way, fighting side by side for freedom with their men. In Australia we celebrate a mass mooning by female convicts of Queen Victoria's Vice-Regent and his lady wife, and the dogged, often desperate courage of all the women who dared to think that they could change the world. Along the way we highlight the age-old cruelties and injustices suffered by women worldwide which the modern age has done little to challenge or change like forced marriage and femicide, while recording every milestone in the long march of women towards equality and the full life. In a colourful pageant of astonishing women, we track through to the birth of modern womanhood with the one small question of the Swinging Sixties which changed everything: Betty Friedan's "Is This all?" Women in space, women in jail, women in-skirts, women in burkas, women in power - all female life is there. We end in the current day - breathless but thrilled with what women can and have and will do. Brave, brilliant, unrivalled in its wit and erudition, Rebel Women is a hugely readable book.

Hachette Audio

Outrages

Naomi Wolf
Authors:
Naomi Wolf
Virago

She-Merchants, Buccaneers and Gentlewomen

Katie Hickman
Authors:
Katie Hickman

The first British women to set foot in India did so in the very early seventeenth century, two and a half centuries before the Raj. Women made their way to India for exactly the same reasons men did - to carve out a better life for themselves. In the early days, India was a place where the slates of 'blotted pedigrees' were wiped clean; bankrupts given a chance to make good; a taste for adventure satisfied - for women. They went and worked as milliners, bakers, dress-makers, actresses, portrait painters, maids, shop-keepers, governesses, teachers, boarding house proprietors, midwives, nurses, missionaries, doctors, geologists, plant-collectors, writers, travellers, and - most surprising of all - traders. As wives, courtesans and she-merchants, these tough adventuring women were every bit as intrepid as their men, the buccaneering sea captains and traders in whose wake they followed; their voyages to India were extraordinarily daring leaps into the unknown. The history of the British in India has cast a long shadow over these women; Memsahibs, once a word of respect, is now more likely to be a byword for snobbery and even racism. And it is true: prejudice of every kind - racial, social, imperial, religious - did cloud many aspects of British involvement in India. But was not invariably the case. In this landmark book, celebrated chronicler, Katie Hickman, uncovers stories, until now hidden from history: here is Charlotte Barry, who in 1783 left London a high-class courtesan and arrived in India as Mrs William Hickey, a married 'lady'; Poll Puff who sold her apple puffs for 'upwards of thirty years, growing grey in the service'; Mrs Hudson who in 1617 was refused as a trader in indigo by the East Indian Company, and instead turned a fine penny in cloth; Julia Inglis, a survivor of the siege of Lucknow; Amelia Horne, who witnessed the death of her entire family during the Cawnpore massacres of 1857; and Flora Annie Steel, novelist and a pioneer in the struggle to bring education to purdah women. For some it was painful exile, but for many it was exhilarating. Through diaries, letters and memoirs (many still in manuscript form), this exciting book reveals the extraordinary life and times of hundreds of women who made their way across the sea and changed history.

Virago

A Stranger City

Linda Grant
Authors:
Linda Grant

When a dead body is found in the Thames, caught in the chains of HMS Belfast, it begins a search for a missing woman and confirms a sense that in London a person can become invisible once outside their community - and that assumes they even have a community. A policeman, a documentary film-maker and an Irish nurse named Chrissie all respond to the death of the unknown woman in their own ways. London is a place of random meetings, shifting relationships - and some, like Chrissie intersect with many. The film-maker and the policeman meanwhile have safe homes with wives - or do they? An immigrant family speaks their own language only privately; they have managed to integrate - or have they? The wonderful Linda Grant weaves a tale around ideas of home; how London can be a place of exile or expulsion, how home can be a physical place or an idea. How all our lives intersect and how coincidence or the randomness of birth place can decide how we live and with whom.

Virago

The Observing Eye

Muriel Spark
Authors:
Muriel Spark

The Observing Eye is a collection of Muriel Spark's brilliant asides, sayings, and aphorisms. No other writer can hold a candle to her wry, puckish observations:'Neurotics are awfully quick to notice other people's mentalities.''It is impossible to persuade a man who does not disagree, but smiles.''The sacrifice of pleasure is of course itself a pleasure.''Be on the alert to recognize your prime at whatever time in your life it may occur.''Ridicule is the only honourable weapon we have left.'Spark's striking insights are precise and unforgettable - they will make you laugh and nod in agreement, with a wicked smile on your face. Her wise words never fail to hit exactly the right note.

Virago

Alias Grace

Margaret Atwood
Authors:
Margaret Atwood

By the author of The Handmaid's TaleNow a major NETFLIX seriesSometimes I whisper it over to myself: Murderess. Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt along the floor.' Grace Marks. Female fiend? Femme fatale? Or weak and unwilling victim? Around the true story of one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the 1840s, Margaret Atwood has created an extraordinarily potent tale of sexuality, cruelty and mystery.'Brilliant... Atwood's prose is searching. So intimate it seems to be written on the skin' Hilary Mantel'The outstanding novelist of our age' Sunday Times'A sensuous, perplexing book, at once sinister and dignified, grubby and gorgeous, panoramic yet specific...I don't think I have ever been so thrilled' Julie Myerson, Independent on Sunday

Abacus

Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky

Patrick Hamilton
Authors:
Patrick Hamilton
Virago

Marling Hall

Angela Thirkell
Authors:
Angela Thirkell

'You read her, laughing, and want to do your best to protect her characters from any reality but their own' New York TimesMr Marling, of Marling Hall, has begun to accept - albeit reluctantly - that he will probably never be able to pass his wonderful old estate on to his children. The Second World War is bringing an end to so many things, but the Marlings carry on as best they can in the face of rationing and a shortage of domestic help. Into their world arrive Geoffrey Harvey and his sister Frances, who have been bombed out of their London home. Bohemian and sophisticated, they rent a local house, and it is not long before they begin to have an effect on their neighbours. Geoffrey begins to court Lettice, the Marlings' widowed daughter, but he finds he has rivals for her affections in dashing David Leslie and Captain Barclay. Observing everything and quietly keeping events on an even keel is the Marlings' sage old governess, Miss Bunting.'The novels are a delight, with touches of E. F. Benson, E. M. Delafield and P. G. Wodehouse' Independent on Sunday

Virago

The Headmistress

Angela Thirkell
Authors:
Angela Thirkell
Virago

Miss Bunting

Angela Thirkell
Authors:
Angela Thirkell

Barsetshire in the war years. Miss Bunting, governess of choice to generations of Barsetshire aristocracy, has been coaxed out of retirement by Sir Robert and Lady Fielding to tutor their daughter Anne, delicate, sixteen years old, and totally lacking in confidence. When Anne makes friends with Heather Adams, the gauche daughter of a nouveau riche entrepreneur, her mother is appalled. Miss Bunting, however, shows an instinctive understanding of the younger generation - perhaps, having lost so many of her former pupils to the war, she is more sympathetic to their needs. She may be a part of the old social order, where everyone knows their place, but is wise enough to realise that the war has turned everything on its head and nothing will ever be the same again - even in rural Barsetshire.First published in 1945, Miss Bunting is a charming social comedy of village life during the Second World War.

Abacus

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Patrick Hamilton
Authors:
Patrick Hamilton
Virago

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Patricia Highsmith
Authors:
Patricia Highsmith

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Virago

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Authors:
Angela Thirkell

Jack Middleton likes to imagine himself a country squire. At weekends he retires to Laverings Estate with his wife, Catherine. He may be pompous, and they may seem ill-matched, but the couple are devoted to each other.When Jack's widowed sister, Lilian, and her two stepchildren arrive to spend the summer in the neighbouring house, he dreads the intrusion to his idyll: Daphne, capable and ambitious, is too lively for his taste, whereas her brother Denis, a composer, he finds a crashing bore. But their wit and good sense charm the residents of Barchester, and they win over Lord Bond with an impromptu Gilbert and Sullivan evening. Even Jack begins to thaw.Before long, Daphne and Lord Bond's son become attracted to each other, but each believes the other is attached to someone else. Can disaster be averted before she marries the wrong man? First published in 1939, Before Lunch is a sparkling comedy from Angela Thirkell's much-loved classic series.

Virago

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Angela Thirkell
Authors:
Angela Thirkell

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Virago

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Patricia Highsmith
Authors:
Patricia Highsmith

Completed just months before Patricia Highsmith's death in 1995, Small g explores the labyrinthine intricacies of passion, sexuality, and jealousy in a charming tale of love misdirected.'What is most remarkable in this novel is the empathy . . . with which Highsmith writes about gay men . . . one can imagine the small g existing, a piquant mixture of bohemianism and respectability, exactly as Highsmith describes it' Francis King, SpectatorAt the 'small g', a Zurich bar known for its not exclusively gay clientele, the lives of a small community are played out one summer.Rickie Markwalder is a designer whose lover Petey was brutally murdered. Rickie and his performing dog Lulu are regulars at the bar, as are vindictive Renate, a seamstress, and her teenage apprentice Luisa. Into their lives comes Teddie, impressionable and beautiful, and a catalyst for the series of events that will change everything.Patricia Highsmith's final novel is an intricate exploration of love and sexuality, the depths of spite and the triumph of human kindness. It is a work that, in the tradition of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, shows us how bizarre and unpredictable love can be. Small g, in the words of her biographer Andrew Wilson, is an 'extended fairy tale suggesting that...happiness is precarious and...romance should be embraced.'

Virago

Found in the Street

Patricia Highsmith
Authors:
Patricia Highsmith
Virago

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Patricia Highsmith
Authors:
Patricia Highsmith

'Highsmith is a giant of the genre. The original, the best, the gloriously twisted Queen of Suspense' Mark Billingham'Dear Sir, I suppose you are pretty pleased with yourself? Superior to everyone, you think. A fancy apartment and a snob dog. You are a disgusting little machine, nothing else. Your days are numbered.'Ed Reynolds, an editor at a prestigious publishing house, has received a number of anonymous poison pen letters. He has no idea who could bear him such a grudge. Returning home one night, he finds a ransom note for his wife's beloved French poodle: 'I have your dog Lisa. She is well and happy . . . I gather the dog is important to you? We'll see!' The criminal has hit the Manhattan couple where it hurts most. And so, with this bizarre event, their nightmare begins. A Dog's Ransom captures the fragility of middle-class life in this riveting, scathing tale.

Virago

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Patricia Highsmith
Authors:
Patricia Highsmith

'I love Highsmith so much . . . What a revelation her writing is' Gillian Flynn'Ramón had done it. Obviously! He thought about Ramón, his Catholic soul trapped in his passion for Lelia. He'd find Ramón and see that he paid with his life for what he had done.'In A Game for the Living threads of sexual jealousy and guilt are shot through with all Patricia Highsmith's uncanny talent for the unexpected.Mild-mannered Theo is a wealthy German expatriate; hot-tempered Ramón was born into poverty in Mexico City. The two men are unlikely friends - especially as they are in love with the same woman. When Lelia is found brutally murdered, both lovers are suspects - and each suspects the other. But then they discover that a thief was seen at Lelia's apartment, and their hunt leads them on a frantic chase to sun-drenched Acapulco. Theo begins to get the uneasy feeling that his every move is being watched.

Virago

Vanishing Cornwall

Daphne Du Maurier
Authors:
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'There was a smell in the air of tar and rope and rusted chain, a smell of tidal water. Down harbour, around the point, was the open sea. Here was the freedom I desired, long sought-for, not yet known. Freedom to write, to walk, to wander, freedom to climb hills, to pull a boat, to be alone . . . I for this, and this for me.'Daphne du Maurier lived in Cornwall for most of her life. Its rugged coastline, wild terrain and tumultuous weather inspired her imagination, and many of her works are set there, including Rebecca, Jamaica Inn and Frenchman's Creek. In Vanishing Cornwall she celebrates the land she loved, exploring its legends, its history and its people, eloquently making a powerful plea for Cornwall's preservation.