The Finishing School

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Author: Muriel Spark
Publisher: Penguin (2005)
Binding: Paperback, 160 pages

3 stars.
Muriel Spark is one of my favourite authors, mainly for her quirky style and often cruelly funny observations of human behaviour.

The Finishing School is a book of jealousy. The headmaster, Rowland Mahler, of this tiny is trying unsuccessfully to write a book. Chris, one of his pupils, at 17, is writing a book with ease. Rowland's jealousy consumes him and prevents him from writing, while Chris, recognising this jealousy, finds he can't write without it. They both become gripped in this destructive relationship which spills out into the lives of the other pupils and teachers and especially Nina, Rowland's wife.

The variety of speculation as to the nature of Rowland and Chris's relationship contains most of the humour in the book. Especially as some of the more outlandish speculations turn out to be correct.

This was an entertaining book, but didn't grip me in the way other books of Spark's have. At the end of it, there's a little run down as to where all the characters ended up and I found it difficult to separate the lesser characters from one another. This is rather disappointing in a book of only 160 pages. Unlike Spark's excellent Prime of Miss Jean Brodie where every character was a gem.