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Thus begins Muriel Spark's tragic and rapier-witted portrait of a London ladies' hostel just emerging from the shadow of World War II. Like the May of Teck Club building itself - "three times window shattered since 1940 but never directly hit" - its lady inhabitants do their best to act as if the world were back to normal, practicing elocution and jostling over suitors and a single Schiaparelli gown.
But the novel's harrowing ending reveals that the girls' giddy literary and amorous peregrinations are hiding some tragically painful war wounds.
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By David on 05-28-11
Funny, moving, brilliant
Somehow, "The Girls of Slender Means" manages to be simultaneously: an often hilariously funny social satire (particularly of the publishing business); an amazingly realistic account of the deprivations of post-war England; and a deeply moving character study of the conflict between innocence and soulless evil. In some ways it's a "Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" with twenty-somethings instead of younger girls, and it's a good bet that if you have read and enjoyed that book you'll like this one. Nadia May is as always a fine interpreter of Muriel Spark, with fine pacing and a deft hand at conveying Spark's dry irony.
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