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Loitering With Intent [Paperback]

Muriel Spark
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 1982
A young aspiring novelist in post-World War II London finds the dreadfully dull life stories of a group of eccentrics called the Autobiographical Association begin to liven up with a series of events that is uncannily similar to the plot of her own unfinished novel.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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From Publishers Weekly

Art, reality and the strange ways the two imitate one another are at the core of Muriel Spark's delightful Loitering with Intent, first published in 1981. Would-be novelist Fleur Talbot works for the snooty, irascible Sir Quentin Oliver at the Autobiographical Association, whose members are all at work on their memoirs. When her employer gets his hands on Fleur's novel-in-progress, mayhem ensues when its scenes begin coming true. Generating hilarious turns of phrase and larger-than-life characters (especially Sir Quentin's batty mother), Sparks's inimitable style make this literary joyride thoroughly appealing. ( June 28)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


I read this book in a delirium of delight...robust and full-bodied, a wise and mature work, and a brilliantly mischievous one—NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

Unflagging wit and inventiveness—TIME MAGAZINE

This is Muriel Spark in the splendid form of those marvellous and influential novels of her earlier career—THE TIMES

The most gloriously entertaining novel since THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE—A.N. Wilson, SPECTATOR --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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One day in the middle of the twentieth century I sat in an old graveyard which had not yet been demolished, in the Kensington area of London, when a young policeman stepped off the path and came over to me. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Spark, as always, completely captures the reader with her straight-on energy and wit. She is a master at this craft, always providing honest and intimate portraits of real, but sometimes quirky, humans. This is nothing new for her. What I find especially intriguing about this novel is the striking perspective it takes--that of a young lady diligently pursuing her destiny despite the hilarious, distracting, and downright mean actions of those more "adult" than she.
This perspective, of honest and thoughtful youth, I find refreshingly sane. The protagonist triumphs completely over the obstacles set before her by employers, publishers, and especially, friends, ultimately realizing her full potential and achieving success. She also defeats passion to some extent, by remaining thoughtful and true to herself, a lesson I find extremely important for young people in modern society, where so little guidance is offered in this area. Though overcoming passion, Fleur is by no means dispassionate, nor is she judgmental or moralizing. She simply recognizes and accepts others for what they are, choosing to spend her time at things most important to her. The clarity of self-perception Spark offers us is, I feel, poetic and inspirational. She manages to convey strength as a force of will and self-worth, rather then the all to frequent hodge-podge of money, appearance, peers, employers, etc., offered by the mass media to young people today.
I hope that this book would be used in cirruculum for teenagers or summer reading programs.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of her best; one of the best books ever April 25 2000
It's hard to believe this book is out of print (as it appears to be in many editions). Spark is the finest living English writer (as of early 2000, she's still with us) and this is one of her best novels. It folds back in on itself. It's obviously autobiographical even with the kind of foreshadowing and self-reflection of the author, who doubles back the flashback, first seeing herself, then seeing herself remember herself.
The plot is fascinating and a constant undertow back into the same themes of the true reality of a book. Is this memoir (fictional) told by an unreliable narrator? I think so. It's hard to know. Some events seem Kafkaesque in their bizarreness, but then turn out to have plain explanations.
Ultimately, evil bizarrely destroys itself; good triumphs with sacrifices. All is never as it appears with Ms. Spark.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Story of One's Life Aug. 9 2003
There is a sense of the autobiographical in this novel which in fact is quite appropriate when one considers the actual pivot around which the whole plot revolves. As a note of caution however I must add that I make this statement without having any knowledge at all of Muriel Spark's actual life. As the author spins out the plot she manages to capture the essence of the main character's experience as a secretary for a group of people organized by an individual with the sole aim of writing their biographies so that they may be put away in a safe place for seventy years and their contents not actually revealed until all the people mentioned in these sets of memoirs are actually no longer alive. The idea is that this will be of interest to the historian of the future. Not that the novel itself concentrates unduly on the efforts of this group but rather on the intellectual and emotional reactions of the novel's main character, a young writer whose main concurrent aim in life is to get her first novel published. She is quite a likeable and attractive character and in fact she seems to be the only normal person amongst the rest of the characters portrayed in the novel, even though this impression may in fact be subconsciously and gradually formed in the reader's mind by the first-person point of view of the novel since everything is seen and judged through the eyes of the novel's main character. Even though this is a rather short book it is rather rich with experience and latent meaning well beyond the mere surface of the mostly humorous type of entertainment that pervades it from beginning to end.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "Tis a pity Nov. 20 2007
By Reader
I wholeheartedly agree with the praise expressed by other reviewers here. It's good have to have this superb little masterpiece back in print. What a shame, though, that this Virago reisuue is marred by poor proofreading. There are several distracting typographical errors, the most startling of which occurs on page 32, where Father Egbert is made to say: "For me, too, it was a moment of climax. I wrestled with my God, the whore of one entire night."
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