Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lunchtime read: The Girls of Slender Means

Often when you like an author it is the world and the characters they are describing that makes the impression. As a consequence it can sometimes be possible to reach out and head for other books written about the same period to find other writers trying to paint similar pictures.

Although the war years haven’t been reached in Dance to the Music of Time the fact they arte coming inspired the choices of the Sword of Honour trilogy by Evelyn Waugh and now The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark.

This story is set in Kensington in 1945 just as the war has ended and focuses on a club come women’s hostel and Spark builds up a picture of the girls who live at the top of the old Victorian building. Some have fiancés, others focus on their jobs but they all have in common a lack of money and the challenges of living in a country that has rationing and not a great deal of anything in the shops.

Something is going to happen and it looks as if it will be connected to the poet Nicholas Farringdon, who appears at the start of the story to have died. But then he is introduced into the text in such a way that it is not clear if he is dead and then the past role he played with the girls starts to be introduced.

More tomorrow…

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