The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark is one of those iconic Edinburgh novels. I’ve been meaning to read it since moving to Edinburgh almost 5 years ago. It’s physically alive in the streets of the city.
In fact, Miss Brodie is said to be based on a real-life teacher at the James Gillespie School for Girls, now the high school which my daughter will be attending in two years time.
So, ask you may have guessed, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a comedic novel (a novella really) about Miss Jean Brodie, a teacher in her prime, and the “Brodie set”, a group of students – the creme de la creme – chosen by her. She educates on the ways of the world, including art, literature, a smattering of Fascism and a nascent feminism. Her teaching methods are frowned upon by the conservative school administration, but what can be done? Miss Brodie is in her prime!
The writing is sharp and witty and well-known for it’s quotes. Among my favourite are declaration such as:
“For those who like that sort of thing,” said Miss Brodie in her best Edinburgh voice, “That is the sort of thing they like.”
Who would like this book? The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a short (96 pages) and sweet novel. Ideal for one sitting. It was originally published in the New Yorker magazine in 1961. It was also made into a 1969 movie starring Maggie Smith. Those two facts should give you a good idea of the tenor of the book. And yes, I MUST see the movie.