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Rediscovered Classic: The Driver's Seat

Posted on 1st April 2016 by Sally Campbell & Peter Whitehead
Our April Rediscovered Classic is a devastating masterpiece by Muriel Spark, a seductive novel that depicts a woman intent on self-destruction.

‘A spiny and treacherous masterpiece’ is how the New Yorker viewed Muriel Spark’s utterly uncompromising short novel The Driver’s Seat. Taut, seductive and intoxicating, much of the tale’s terrible power lies in its grim conclusion being revealed from the outset. We know and yet we read on; with not an excess word or a single moment of literary padding, we witness a life unspool under Spark’s unflinching eye.

The Driver’s Seat joins our unique series of books, our Rediscovered Classics, that through no fault of their own (often the mere fickleness of time and fashion) have unfairly dropped from sight. Here Muriel Spark – the author behind the classics The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Memento Mori – is on her sparest and most clinical form.

Lise, the fractured, frighteningly single-minded character at the novel’s centre, is on a quest, seemingly looking for a very particular man. ‘The one I’m looking for will recognize me right away for the woman I am, have no fear of that,’ she says.

Of course, this being Spark, such surface intentions occlude far deeper and darker waters. The Driver’s Seat carefully marks its path, only revealing as much at each stage as is absolutely needed, but in its precision lies its unique, grotesque horror.

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