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Muriel & me Part II: the cold shower

April 28, 2012 17 comments

Aiding and Abetting by Muriel Spark French title: Complices et comparses.

I’m a participant of the Muriel Spark Week hosted by Simon from Stuck in a Book and Harriet from Harriet Devine’s Blog. I read The Prime of Miss Brodie in December and I wasn’t thrilled by it but it is nonetheless an excellent book. One of my problems with it was the language, I had a paperback edition and I thought my next Spark should be in kindle format, to have a constant access to a dictionary. This is how I ended up reading Aiding and Abetting.

Hmm. As the title of the post gives it away, this wasn’t a good experience. And as I’m even too lazy to sum up the plot, here is the blurb from Amazon

Aiding and Abetting opens sometime late in the 20th century, when an Englishman in his 60s walks into the Paris practice of famed Bavarian psychiatrist Dr Hildegard Wolf and announces that he is the missing Lord Lucan. Yet Hildegard is already treating one self-confessed Lord Lucan. And what’s more, both patients seem to have dirt on her–for isn’t she really Beate Pappenheim, a notorious fraud who used her menstrual blood to fake her stigmata? Fearing for her safety, Hildegard flees to London, where her path inevitably crosses that of two British Lucan hunters.

And oh surprise! My laziness taught me something, the Lucan case is a real one!! Being French, I TOTALLY missed that which can explain why I didn’t enjoy the book.

The reasons I had in mind before attempting to write a review and discovering that the underlying case is a real one were that:

– I didn’t care at all to discover who the real Lucan was,

– I didn’t like Hildegard and her French boy-friend Jean-Pierre,

– I didn’t buy the ludicrous side adventure of Lacey and what’s-his-name-again? sixty-years old lover (not a good sign when you don’t remember the names)

It’s well-written but the construction is chaotic, the characters highly improbable. I only finished it because it was only 176 pages long. I wonder if Muriel Spark is too British to be enjoyed elsewhere. There seem to be references a foreigner can’t catch and you don’t even realize you’re missing something. I felt the same when reading The Prime of Miss Brodie.

One positive thing though: now I know what aiding and abetting means…

After a disastrous moment with Remarkable Creatures and that chore, I rushed to In the Absence of Men by Philippe Besson, convinced I’d have a great time. I was right and I’ll see you in a few days with the ecstatic review of this French novel.

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