"I have frequently told you, and the holidays just past have convinced me, that my prime has truly begun. One's prime is elusive. You little girls, when you grow up, must be on the alert to recognize your prime at whatever time of your life it may occur. You must then live it to the full....One's prime is the moment one was born for."
"Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life."
So speaks Miss Jean Brodie, a 'progressive spinster' and teacher at the Marcia Blaine School in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the 1930s. She surrounds herself with a small circle of eleven-year-old girls, 'The Brodie Set', presumably to mold them in her image as they grow up, but mostly to have a captive audience for all her stories and grand ideas. She's unconventional and energetic and I wanted to like her, but mostly I found her imperious, judgmental, and completely self-centered. Sadly, I didn't find much to like in any of the Brodie girls either, but maybe that's because of Spark's narrative style which is a bit aloof and removed. What a disappointing read!
I've read a few of Muriel Spark's other novels--books I quite enjoyed--but I didn't like this one at all. I was expecting something funnier and more warm-hearted, but The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is not a feel-good novel; in fact, this book left me feeling cold. At least it's short and I was able to finish it quickly. I wish someone would tell me why people like this novel so much. I just don't see it. With my apologies to Muriel Spark, this is one classic I won't be reading again.
Happy Reading (some other book)!