Wednesday, 12 October 2016

not to disturb

Yesterday I finished Not To Disturb, by Muriel Spark. I didn't like it much.

It was just 96 pages in my 1974 Penguin edition, so it had that going for it, but it was hard to make out, and all rather pointless and illogical, and something of a chore to read, even at its short length. I'm not the kind of reader who's content with atmosphere but no explanation. The blurb on the back of the Penguin describes the setting very well, actually:

'A storm rages round the towers of the big house near Geneva. Behind the locked doors of the library, the Baron, the Baroness and their handsome young secretary are not to be disturbed. In the attic, the Baron's lunatic brother howls and hurls plates at his keeper.
'But in the staff quarters, all is under control. Under the personal supervision of Lister, the Baron's incomparable butler, the servants make their own, highly lucrative, preparations for the tragedy.
'The night is long, but morning will bring a *crime passionnel* of outstanding attraction and endless possibilities.
'Muriel Spark has created a world in her own idiom - bizarre, gruesome and brilliantly funny.'
I don't agree with the final para. In particular, it wasn't funny at all. The cover line says it's 'a curiously disturbing novel', but I didn't find that either. I didn't find it interesting or entertaining.

First line: The other servants fall silent as Lister enters the room.
Last line: By noon they will be covered in the profound sleep of those who have kept faithful vigil all night, while outside the house the sunlight is laughing on the walls.

The cover of the Penguin edition I read is a photo (by Van Pariser), which feels rather of its early-70s time, of a posh lady in pearls, who I doubt is supposed to represent anyone in particular in the book. Interesting contrast with the typewriter lettering.

[Later PS: Not To Disturb is a Muriel Spark work so lacking in notability that it didn't have its own Wikipedia entry - though it wasn't the only one, surprisingly enough. This led to me creating a Wikipedia entry for it (since I think it would be appropriate for every Muriel Spark novel to have one), my first such creation of a Wikipedia page; who'd have thought it would be for this.]

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