"Long ago in 1945 all the nice people in England were poor, allowing for exceptions," begins The Girls of Slender Means, Dame Muriel Spark's tragic and rapier-witted portrait of a London ladies' hostel just emerging from the shadow of World War II.
Like the May of Teck Club itself—"three times window shattered since 1940 but never directly hit"—its lady inhabitants do their best to act as if the world were back to normal: practicing elocution, and jostling over suitors and a single Schiaparelli gown. The novel's harrowing ending reveals that the girls' giddy literary and amorous peregrinations are hiding some tragically painful war wounds.
Chosen by Anthony Burgess as one of the Best Modern Novels in the Sunday Times of London, The Girls of Slender Means is a taut and eerily perfect novel by an author The New York Times has called "one of this century's finest creators of comic-metaphysical entertainment."
About the Author
Muriel Spark (1918–2006) was the author of dozens of novels, including The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Memento Mori, A Far Cry from Kensington, The Girls of Slender Means, The Ballad of Peckham Rye, The Driver’s Seat, and many more. She became Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1993.
Spark writes with a light comic touch, but there's an undertone of a kind of existential desperation.
— Patrick T. Reardon - Chicago Tribune