If she did not sit so tight on her natural religious bent she would be a featherweight able to knock out.
It is in fact more of an “entertainment” than a book about something, and really there is nothing wrong with this.
This was an innovative book in 1963 – not that I knew that then – and it still, today, flashes its own disguising Schiaparelli dress, with the beauty of youth pressed close against youth’s bewilderment. Innocence is abruptly overturned in these pages, but Spark has structured her novel so that we realise we are about to be blown into tragedy.
Admirers of Miss Spark’s last and brilliant little tale, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, may find The Girls of Slender Means more oblique and ambiguous… furthermore, the book’s end may appear arbitrarily drastic to those who do not have a religious view of fate.
At the May of Teck, each girl clings to her most valuable commodity: beauty, intelligence, an aptitude for reading poetry aloud or a good pair of stockings. Muriel Spark never wavers in her sharp, brutal wit.— Lily Power