• The Girls of Slender Means

  • By: Muriel Spark
  • Narrated by: Wanda McCaddon
  • Length: 3 hrs and 19 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (221 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"Long ago in 1945 all the nice people in England were poor, allowing for exceptions."

Thus begins 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 building 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.

But the novel's harrowing ending reveals that the girls' giddy literary and amorous peregrinations are hiding some tragically painful war wounds.

©1963 Muriel Spark (P)2008 Blackstone Audio

Critic Reviews

"Spark, as usual, has perfectly plotted and peopled this giddy world of postwar delirium and girls' dormitory life." ( Library Journal)

What listeners say about The Girls of Slender Means

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Revisiting The Slender Means Of Post WWII

Gosh I read and loved this multi layered book in print ages ago and decided to listen again for "fun". This turned out to be just harrowing, disturbing and horribly tragic. It really should come with a warning. I also think the narration was so halting and oddly singsong that in a way it might have made the story even more distressing. I usually love Muriel Spark but wish I had skipped this re-listen. Proceed with caution if you are the least bit reactive right now. Only for the brave.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Funny, moving, brilliant

Somehow, "The Girls of Slender Means" manages to be simultaneously: an often hilariously funny social satire (particularly of the publishing business); an amazingly realistic account of the deprivations of post-war England; and a deeply moving character study of the conflict between innocence and soulless evil. In some ways it's a "Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" with twenty-somethings instead of younger girls, and it's a good bet that if you have read and enjoyed that book you'll like this one. Nadia May is as always a fine interpreter of Muriel Spark, with fine pacing and a deft hand at conveying Spark's dry irony.

4 people found this helpful

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please please try again

I love this book; I think it would make a smashing movie. The imagery is breathtaking, the dialogue perfectly tuned.
Only imagine if this book had had the right reader: the amazing reverberating Welsh voice of the parson's daughter, the avidity of the journalist, and all the rest; coming to life as they did in Ms. Spark's imagination.
Wanda McCaddon is not up to it.
Her thin, undifferentiated voice expressed none of the hope, passion, and tragedy of the story.
Her intonations should be reserved for the static, the domestic, and the placid in literature.
Please, Audible, try this one again!

3 people found this helpful

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A Spark in the Dark

Muriel Spark lends her dry, wry voice to this peculiar group portrait of a generation scrambling to make sense of the aftermath of war. Funny until it's tragic, and then funny again, and often both at once.

2 people found this helpful

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Perfect for Nostalgia

This book reflects a period in Britain when I was born. mM mother lived in Queen Alexandra's House, which I am almost sure is the model for the May of Teck Club. A perfect piece of reading for a specific moment in time.

1 person found this helpful

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Subtle humor

I did enjoy the subtle, British humor in this short novel, but the narrative was quite choppy, and the narration seemed to have pauses that interrupted the flow.

1 person found this helpful

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Sublime

Perfect narration. And Spark? Chilly and comforting at the same time. A mistress of chance.

1 person found this helpful

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Optimistic Narration

Fascinating story of a different world and a different time, long before Women’s lib and gender equality. Yet these ‘impoverished’ posh girls lived their lives to the full with great spirit and good humor. The narrator of this absorbing tale speaks the way one imagines the girls themselves would speak. The only problem is that moments of great tragedy or even irony are relayed in the same optimistic Blue Peter voice as the rest of the narrative, giving one a sense of disorientation. But don’t let this put you off; it’s a great ‘read.’