The Reading Group reconvened early in March, with Muriel Spark’s popular modern classic The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie up for discussion. Student opinion tended towards enjoyment of the novel but reservations about the central character. Several were of the view that whilst it might have been quite amusing to be one of Miss Brodie’s girls – the crème de la crème – it is unlikely that they would have been equipped with the knowledge to pass exams and gain qualifications! Indeed, the modern student, accustomed to Ofsted driven teaching and learning, would have no time for Miss Brodie’s tales of her summer vacations in fascist Italy or her reminiscences of her lost lover, killed in the first world war.

There was some comment on the unusual narrative style, with its use of flash backs, and flash forwards as well, sometimes referred to as prolepsis, an interesting technique which most members of the group felt worked very well. It was also noted that whilst the novel is extremely funny in places the underlying sentiment is one of sadness at opportunities lost and potential unfulfilled; the thought that not only was Miss Brodie in her prime but so were her ‘girls’ with all their lives ahead of them, lives that ultimately disappointed.

The group looked at a range of options for the next ‘read’ and chose Norwegian Wood by the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami