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Publisher's Summary

Muriel Spark's blackly comic masterwork begins with a voice on the telephone warning, "Remember, you must die." The recipient of the grim message is elderly Dame Lettie Colston, but soon 10 of Lettie's oldest friends also become targets of Death's anonymous herald. A bizarre investigation lays bare an intricate network of deception and disloyalty that binds together the vulnerable group of aging eccentrics. From the internationally acclaimed author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie comes a provocative, disturbing, but hilarious tale of mortality, morality, and the phenomenon called old age.
©2003 Muriel Spark; (P)2003 Blackstone Audiobooks
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Critic Reviews

"A complex, beautiful, and terrifyingly insightful novel about old age.¿" (The New Yorker)
"Acidly funny tale of aging and death...a marvelously crafted, tautly written novel." (Philadelphia Inquirer)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By David on 06-25-08

Character study

I favor character studies and this one is fascinating. All of the major protagonists are well over 70, quirky, and possibly demented. The plot isn't very important and it's a little misleading to label this a mystery but it's well worth the listen. The prose is solid. The story is both funny and a little sad. The narration is outstanding.

The creative challenge for the author is how to get into the heads of the very old without being very old oneself. Somehow she seems to have done it.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful


By Cariola on 10-27-11

More Spark, Please!

I recently discovered Muriel Spark and have been hustling through her wonderful books. Memento Mori is another winner, all the moreso because the main characters (who are really characters) ar over 70. Spark is a master at depicting a particularly brittle segment of English society, that of the upper class at the edge of the way down and the middle class at the edge of the way up. And she does it with such wit and dark humor. One moment I was laughing out loud, the next asking, shocked, "Did that really just happen?"

Dame Lettie Coulson is the victim of an anonymous phone caller who leaves a message especially for her: "Remember you must die." She and her brother Godfrey can never agree if the caller is young or old, definitely English or has an accent, but they do agree that he is quite polite. Soon a number of other elderly persons begin receiving similar calls, but the local police are ready to attribute the whole affair to senility.

As we learn more about the aged characters, their secrets begin to come out into the open. Spark reminds us that the elderly were not always elderly and in fact had lives as vital, as fallible, and often as wicked as our own. And she does it with such humor that we find ourselves laughing not only at them but at our own foibles.

Another winner from Spark, and I'm off to read another one.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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