With the tenor of a thoroughly researched student essay, this insightful book will appeal to fans eager to learn more about...

Muriel Spark


An informed yet dry scholarly essay examining the significance of time in Muriel Spark’s fiction.

Author of 22 novels, award-winning Scottish writer Dame Muriel Spark is perhaps most famous for her work The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961). In this extended essay, Bruno focuses on this and four other novels—Memento Mori (1959), The Girls of Slender Means (1963), The Mandelbaum Gate (1965) and The Driver’s Seat (1970)—as a way of exploring Spark’s fragmented and cyclical approach to time in her fiction. Bruno begins by examining how Spark’s life is mirrored in her fiction, addressing the role of war, religion, thrift and economy, and she then goes on to critically investigate the books themselves. The theme of time is carefully intertwined with that of memory; the manner in which Spark disrupts chronology in her fiction is tackled with aplomb. Bruno also emphasizes Spark’s interest in natural cycles, such as the passing of the seasons, as well as her use of complex time shifts intended to imitate violent disruptions in life. The reluctance to examine Spark’s entire body of work makes for a rather stunted study, although the author succeeds in working methodically through each of the chosen novels, drawing out relevant strands and providing sharp textual analysis. An awkward turn of phrase can sometimes discredit Bruno’s argument, however: “A pattern also exists in the confusion of the modern world. It is for the individual to search for it.” The result is a style both tangled and stuffy. Throughout, the essay can sometimes come across as a reworked graduate dissertation, particularly with regard to its repetitious statements of intent. The dissertation style might not engage a nonacademic readership, although it will certainly appeal to Spark’s dedicated fan base.

With the tenor of a thoroughly researched student essay, this insightful book will appeal to fans eager to learn more about a talented author.

Pub Date: March 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482788297

Page Count: 108

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the...


Tragedy turns into triumph in Carlson’s debut novel about a young woman who regains her self-confidence after multiple losses and years of dejection.

Before readers meet 28-year-old Jamie Shire, she has already hit rock bottom. Jobless, she drinks away her days on her best friend’s couch as she wallows in loneliness. Among Jamie’s troubles: Her mother died when she was a child, the only man she ever loved wouldn’t reciprocate, her unborn daughter died, and she continuously feels rejected by her father and brother. After a chance encounter with a wealthy woman at a coffee shop, Jamie accepts a live-in job researching philanthropic causes at Fallow Springs Estate. Reaching out to the house staff and eventually working with Darfur refugees afford Jamie some valuable context for her own pain; she’s able to gain confidence as she learns to stop fearing rejection and start pursuing her dreams. Throughout the novel, the author skillfully creates mood. In the beginning, when Jamie borders on depression, her emotional touchiness and oversensitivity will create an uneasy feeling in readers. But as Jamie slowly regains confidence, readers will also feel increasingly optimistic. Alongside the main character’s emotional struggle is the struggle faced by Darfur refugees, although this plotline doesn’t advance too far; yet details from Jamie’s trip to the refugee camp in Chad—the types of beer served at the aid workers’ bar or a depiction of a young refugee sitting blank-faced and tied to a pole because he might run away—effectively transport readers to faraway places. Jamie’s story will interest readers, but, with a weak ending, the story leaves many unanswered questions. Who is Jamie’s wealthy employer? Does Jamie’s work in Chad help anyone but herself? And what of the conflict Jamie feels between herself and the refugees, between the haves and the have-nots?

With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the destination.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0984991808

Page Count: 389

Publisher: First Snow Publishing House

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

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A fun adventure for anyone who’d love to see a few spunky kids trick some bad-news pirates.



Pirates, magic and a secret society collide in this fantasy middle-grade novel.

This fast-paced novel follows best friends Cameron and Miguel, who are looking for adventure while cruising through their Arizona town on a tandem bicycle. They find it when an enchanted pirate ship flies overhead and lands in a convenience store’s parking lot. The ship sets up as a shop, which uses an intoxicating mist to trick customers into buying overpriced sea-themed merchandise, while simultaneously making them defenseless against pickpocket pirates. Cameron has bigger problems when Blackbeard, the ship’s intimidating captain, decides that the tween has stolen a powerful ring that would allow him to shape-shift into any person he imagines. Raising the stakes, the pirates kidnap Miguel and force him to perform grunt work with no chance of release. Cameron enlists the help of his best gal pal, Marcella, to free Miguel, but their mission takes a surprising turn when they discover a secret society protecting an underground gold mine. Author Loge keeps the action coming as the trio encounter a nasty doppelganger, a sinister talking parrot and a gang of violent pirates. The breezy writing ensures that the story doesn’t get stale. With so many quick twists and turns, young readers could get lost along the way, but Loge clearly explains all the unexpected changes to keep his audience on track. In addition to a sprinkling of black-and-white illustrations, Cameron’s easy friendship with Miguel and Marcella keeps things light and youthful when the tale could have been bogged down with one too many odd, mystical events. The heart of the book—a young boy as the chosen one who must defeat an evil enemy—has been a common YA plotline in recent years, but Loge’s energetic style makes the theme seem fresh.

A fun adventure for anyone who’d love to see a few spunky kids trick some bad-news pirates.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2012

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