It was with more than a slight feeling of triumph that I picked up two of the three Muriel Spark books that are on the 1001 books list this week: due in no small part to my being halfway through Memoirs of Hadrian, and, I must admit, a large part of my glee was thanks to both being c.100 pages in length (and sounding infinitely more interesting than Memoirs). I also hadn’t heard of Muriel Spark before – it was a happy coincidence that I stumbled upon her (I would have got all three books but I’d maxed out the number of books I could borrow with these two).
The Driver’s Seat is a short but almost frantic novel, recounting main character Lise’s “holiday” to Naples, during which she searches erratically for a man she claims to be expecting to meet there. Beginning with her holiday wardrobe – selecting a colourful, patterned dress with an equally loud coat – Lise seems to want to put those around her on edge; explaining unnecessarily to everyone in the vicinity of the check in desk about her hand luggage, staring at fellow passengers on the plane and laughing loudly and for slightly too long in restaurants. A few pages in we learn that Lise does not survive the trip, and the rest of the novel is spent catching us up with the point of her demise.
In complete contrast to Memoirs of Hadrian, I was sad this book was over so soon – I read it all in one sitting in less than an hour and am looking forward to reading more of her work. In other news, I forgot to point out that I’m now a quarter of the way through the list – which I think has taken about 7 years ! Not entirely sure whether this is good news or bad news (it does put me on track to be over 50 by the time I finish – but I have already got through both Tolstoy’s and the Thousand and One Arabian Nights so I’m not sure how far I’d be in terms of page numbers).