Muriel Spark - The Comforters - Little, Brown Book Group

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    • ISBN:9781405530460
    • Publication date:09 May 2013
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The Comforters

By Muriel Spark

  • Paperback
  • £9.99

Muriel Spark's stunning debut novel

'The greatest Scottish novelist of modern times.' Ian Rankin

In this first novel by Muriel Spark - author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - the only things that aren't ambiguous are Spark's matchless originality and glittering wit.

With an introduction by Ali Smith.

Caroline Rose is plagued by the tapping of typewriter keys and the strange, detached narration of her every thought and action. She has an unusual problem - she realises she is in a novel. Her fellow characters are also possibly deluded: Laurence, her former lover, finds diamonds in a loaf of bread - could his elderly grandmother really be a smuggler? And Baron Stock, her bookseller friend, believes he is on the trail of England's leading Satanist.

'A master of malice and mayhem.' Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

'Brilliantly original and fascinating.' Evelyn Waugh

'A light, clever, mirthful tour de force ... It disrupts and charms its readers with its combination of wit, precision, intelligence and hilarity. As vibrant as ever, more than fifty years after its first appearance.' Ali Smith

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: 9781844085538
  • Publication date: 06 Aug 2009
  • Page count: 208
  • Imprint: Virago
That this light, clever, mirthful tour de force was a first novel is astounding. It ends with its own genesis, neatly, like a good joke. As vibrant as ever, more than 50 years after its first appearance, it still knocks the stuffing out of the realist tradition, and probably always will — Ali Smith
Brilliantly original and fascinating — Evelyn Waugh
A master of malice and mayhem — Michiko Katutani, NEW YORK TIMES
Virago

Jonah's Gourd Vine

Zora Neale Hurston
Authors:
Zora Neale Hurston
Virago

Corregidora

Gayl Jones
Authors:
Gayl Jones

'Corregidora is the most brutally honest and painful revelation of what has occurred, and is occurring, in the souls of Black men and women' JAMES BALDWIN'No novel about any black woman could ever be the same after this' TONI MORRISONUpon publication in 1975, Corregidora was hailed as a masterpiece, winning acclaim from writers including James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and John Updike. Exploring themes such as race, sexuality and the long repercussions of slavery, this powerful novel paved the way for Beloved and The Colour Purple. Now, this lost classic is published for a new generation of readers.Blues singer Ursa is consumed by her hatred of Corregidora, a nineteenth-century slave master who fathered both her mother and grandmother. Charged with 'making generations' to bear witness to the abuse embodied in the family name, Ursa Corregidora finds herself unable to keep alive this legacy when she is made sterile in a violent fight with her husband. Haunted by the ghosts of a Brazilian plantation, pained by a present of lovelessness and despair, Ursa slowly and firmly strikes her own terms with womanhood.AS HEARD ON THE BACKLISTED PODCASTAlso new to the VMC list: Eva's Man and The Healing by Gayl Jones.'An American writer with a powerful sense of vital inheritance, of history in the blood' JOHN UPDIKE'Gayl Jones's first novel, Corregidora (1975), was both shocking and ground-breaking in its probing of the psychological legacy of slavery and sexual ownership through the life of a Kentucky blues singer ... it predated Alice Walker's The Color Purple and Toni Morrison's Beloved, revealing an unfinished emancipation and the power of historical memory to shape lives. It also marked a shift in African-American literature that made women, and relationships between black people, central' MAYA JAGGI, Guardian'Corregidora's survey of trauma and overcoming has become even better and more relevant with the passage of time. It remains an indispensable point of entry into the tradition of African American writing that Gayl Jones reshaped and enriched' PAUL GILROY

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.

Abacus

Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky

Patrick Hamilton
Authors:
Patrick Hamilton
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.

Virago

Marling Hall

Angela Thirkell
Authors:
Angela Thirkell
Virago

The Headmistress

Angela Thirkell
Authors:
Angela Thirkell

Barsetshire in the latter years of the Second World War is a peaceful and gossipy place, but there has been one lively change. A girls' school, evacuated from London, has taken over Harefield Park. Miss Sparling seems to be the perfect headmistress: she dresses as a headmistress should and is an easy and erudite conversationalist. Her new neighbours like her and her pupils respect her, but there is something missing from her life; something which - though she never dreamt it when she arrived - perhaps Barsetshire can provide...

Abacus

Hangover Square

Patrick Hamilton
Authors:
Patrick Hamilton
Virago

People Who Knock on the Door

Patricia Highsmith
Authors:
Patricia Highsmith
Virago

Before Lunch

Angela Thirkell
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

Northbridge Rectory

Angela Thirkell
Authors:
Angela Thirkell
Virago

Small g: A Summer Idyll

Patricia Highsmith
Authors:
Patricia Highsmith
Virago

The Fox at the Manger

P. L. Travers
Authors:
P. L. Travers
Virago

Don't Look Now And Other Stories

Daphne Du Maurier
Authors:
Daphne Du Maurier

John and Laura have come to Venice to try and escape the pain of their young daughter's death. But when they encounter two old women who claim to have second sight, they find that instead of laying their ghosts to rest they become caught up in a train of increasingly strange and violent events.The four other haunting, evocative stories in this volume also explore deep fears and longings, secrets and desires: a lonely teacher who investigates a mysterious American couple, a young woman confronting her father's past, a party of pilgrims who meet disaster in Jerusalem and a scientist who harnesses the power of the mind to chilling effect.

Virago

The Mask of Apollo

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault

'Mary Renault is a shining light to both historical novelists and their readers. She does not pretend the past is like the present, or that the people of ancient Greece were just like us. She shows us their strangeness; discerning, sure-footed, challenging our values, piquing our curiosity, she leads us through an alien landscape that moves and delights us' HILARY MANTEL'Mary Renault's portraits of the ancient world are fierce, complex and eloquent, infused at every turn with her life-long passion for the Classics. Her characters live vividly both in their own time, and in ours' MADELINE MILLERCombining the scholarship of a historian with the imagination of a novelist, Mary Renault brings the ancient Greek stage thrillingly to life.Set in fourth-century B.C. Greece, The Mask of Apollo is narrated by Nikeratos, a tragic actor who takes with him on all his travels a gold mask of Apollo, a relic of the theatre's golden age, which is now past. At first his mascot, the mask gradually becomes his conscience, and he refers to it his gravest decisions, when he finds himself at the centre of a political crisis in which the philosopher Plato is also involved. Much of the action is set in Syracuse, where Plato's friend Dion is trying to persuade the young tyrant Dionysios the Younger to accept the rule of law. Through Nikeratos' eyes, the reader watches as the clash between the two unleashes all the pent-up violence in the city.'All my sense of the ancient world - its values, its style, the scent of its wars and passions - comes from Mary Renault. I turned to writing historical fiction because of something I learned from Renault: that it lets you shake off the mental shackles of your own era, all the categories and labels, and write freely about what really matters to you' EMMA DONOGHUE 'There's much to wonder at in the way she fills in the large dark spaces where we know next to nothing about the times she describes . . . an important and wonderful writer . . . she set a course into serious-minded, psychologically intense historical fiction that today seems more important than ever' - Sam Jordison, Guardian

Virago

The Praise Singer

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault
Virago

The Last of the Wine

Mary Renault
Authors:
Mary Renault
Virago

Mossy Trotter

Elizabeth Taylor, Tony Ross
Contributors:
Elizabeth Taylor, Tony Ross
Virago

Vanishing Cornwall

Daphne Du Maurier
Authors:
Daphne Du Maurier
Virago

A View Of The Harbour

Elizabeth Taylor
Authors:
Elizabeth Taylor

She let herself out of the large, untidy house and into her own beautiful, hyacinth-scented one. She sat down in the bay-window of her bedroom and combed her hair before the mirror. She took it all down and built it up again, but there was no one to see what she had done.*In the faded coastal village of Newby, everyone looks out for - and in on - each other, and beneath the deceptively sleepy exterior, passions run high. Beautiful divorcee Tory is painfully involved with her neighbour, Robert, while his wife Beth, Tory's best friend, is consumed by the worlds she creates in her novels, oblivious to the relationship developing next door. Their daughter Prudence is aware, however, and is appalled by the treachery she observes. Mrs Bracey, an invalid whose grasp on life is slipping, forever peers from her window, constantly prodding her daughters for news of the outside world. And Lily Wilson, a lonely young widow, is frightened of her own home. Into their lives steps Bertram, a retired naval officer with the unfortunate capacity to inflict lasting damage while trying to do good.*'Her stories remain with one, indelibly, as though they had been some turning-point in one's own experience' - Elizabeth Bowen 'Always intelligent, often subversive and never dull, Elizabeth Taylor is the thinking person's dangerous housewife. Her sophisticated prose combines elegance, icy wit and freshness in a stimulating cocktail' - Valerie Martin'A magnificent and underrated mid-20th-century writer, the missing link between Jane Austen and John Updike' - David Baddiel, Independent