The Finishing School by Muriel Spark

Welcome to College Sunrise, a mobile school for teens, currently located in Lausanne, Switzerland. The college is owned and run by Nina Parker, 26, and her husband, Rowland Mahler, almost 30. Nina and Rowland employ a part-time gardener, a cook and a maid and they all create a part-time home for the inconvenient kids of the rich.

There’s Mary, who can’t spell,  but  is assured, by Rowland, that she will be able to live her dream of owning a village shop that sells ceramics and transparent scarves. There’s Princess Tilly with the dark hair and inability to hold on to a tidbit of juicy gossip. There’s Pallas Kapelas, who is sure her Father can save the school because he buys bankruptcies. And there’s Elaine, who Nina suspects may be sleeping with Rowland. Then, there’s Lionel, Lisa, Joan…..

But, the main story revolves around Nina, Rowland and Chris, a student, who is apparently particularly gifted in the languages and is using that gift…to write a historical novel. This begins to choke and torture Rowland, who lives under the pretense of writing a novel himself and sets him on a path of “envy of another’s spiritual good”, beginning with thoughts of destroying Chris’ work, attempting to convince himself that Chris is a pedophile and wishing he would die in his sleep.

Meanwhile, Nina, tired of running the school by herself, knows she will one day leave Rowland. He is not the playwright or scholar she assumed he would be. She will remarry, have children and study. In the meantime, she comforts Rowland through his increasing jealousy.

This book is an easy read that focuses on the dark side of its characters and spills their real motives for action before the reader. Quite fun.

Here’s what other bloggers thought: Muriel Spark Reading Week: The Finishing School, The Finishing School by Muriel Spark

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P.S. I will be giving away this book…check back on May 15th.

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