Memento Mori by Muriel Spark

This book was published in 1959 and was Muriel Spark’s third book. It’s only the second one which I’ve read by her and I have to say that I didn’t enjoy it as much as The Girls of Slender Means.

I don’t think it was anything to do with the writing of the book, it’s just that I didn’t find the subject matter all that interesting. I also wasn’t all that keen on the fact that the characters were very similar to the Bloomsbury Group people, except they were in their old age.

Lots of the elderly people in the book get anonymous phone calls and the caller only ever says – Remember you must die. This runs all through the book and it affects them in different ways. The answer which I would give is – And so must you, so cheerio! But I suppose we’re all different.

One of the characters is a blackmailer, another is a dirty old man and there’s a woman who is always writing a new will. Having frequented geriatric wards in the past I must say that Spark does write very well about that sort of environment, but maybe if you’ve already been there it isn’t something which you want to revisit in fiction.

I think the problem was that there really weren’t any likeable characters at all, and that always makes it difficult to enjoy a book.

This was another one which was on my 2011 Reading List, so another one bites the dust but I think it’ll be a while before I pay Muriel Spark another visit.

6 thoughts on “Memento Mori by Muriel Spark

  1. The only book I’ve read by Muriel Spark was The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie which underwhelmed me. I did peek at your 2011 list and I highly recommend I Capture the Castle (which I’m rereading next month for a book group) and The Pursuit of Love/Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford. I haven’t read the other Mitford on your list but I think it’s on my TBR shelf.

    • Karen,
      I’ve been wondering why Muriel Spark has such a good reputation but then I feel that way about Iris Murdoch too. I went through a Nancy Mitford phase years ago but I just wanted to re-read them as it seems a lifetime ago but I remember really enjoying them.

      As for I Capture the Castle – people have been recommending that I read this book since I was a teenager and for some reason I’ve just never got around to it. I bought a pristine copy from a charity shop last year for about tuppence ha’penny so it’s now in a short queue by my bedside.

  2. I agree with you about I Capture the Castle, Karen. I read this when I was a young teenager and loved it. I thought it was written about me! I re-read it a few years ago, holding my breath, because you know how that sometimes turns out, but I still loved it. Hope you do, too, Katrina.

    • Joan,
      There aren’t that many books which stand up to the test of time. I’m really going to have to read I Capture the Castle soon. I’ll probably kick myself for leaving it so long!

  3. This one is on my TBR shelf. I’ll take it with a grain of salt.

    I have to go visit your 2011 list now because I think I will find some great ideas. I loved I Capture the Castle and, like you, I just dusted off a couple of Nancy Mitfords for a re-read.

    • Rose City Reader,
      I don’t know if you’ll get any great ideas from my 2011 list, I did it because these are mainly books which I’ve had in the house for absolutely yonks. A lot of them were even school prizes given to various family members and I inherited them. It’s just my way of making sure I read them at last, but you’ve probably read most of them. Hope your cats are thriving!

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