April 14, 2010

The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark (Book No. 18)

This week I read a slim little novel by Muriel Spark. Actually more like a novella, I guess, called The Driver's Seat. This story was alarming! (Spoiler alert!)

First published in 1970, The Driver's Seat features Lise, a middle-aged worker bee from northern Scandinavia who sets off on an Italian holiday. Where she plans and sets into motion her own murder.

Lise is terrifying and fascinating. She is odd company, she dresses all wrong, she is confrontational. We know by the third chapter that she is soon to die, but it only slowly dawns on the reader that she is looking forward to the event, and, in fact, orchestrating it. It's a commentary on isolation, despair, and notions of victimization.

It's a short book, but a startling one. I love love love Patricia Highsmith for the way she gets inside your head and torments her readers, and this novella pushed the same buttons.

You're a sketchy one, Dame Muriel!

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