Muriel Spark: Territorial Rights (1979)

I have been looking forward to Muriel Spark Week hosted by Simon from Stuck in a Book  and Harriet from Harriet Devine’s Blog. I liked both of the Muriel Spark novels I’ve read so far,  The Girls of Slender Means and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. It was about time to read another one. Territorial Rights had been on my piles for a while and that’s why I decided to read it.

Sadly this book did not work for me and if it hadn’t been for Muriel Spark Week  – and if I was not a notorious book-finisher – this would have been a DNF for me. But first things first.

Territorial Right is set in Venice and as a Venice novel it is remarkably well done. I was there, I saw the streets, the canals, the piazzas, the palazzi, the churches, the street cafés and the back gardens. I enjoyed the descriptions a lot.

Now take this setting and throw in a motley crew of people, all magically coming to Venice at the same time. They know each other either from Paris, England or Bulgaria. They do not only know each other but they are all connected and even fleeing from each other only to bump into each other in Venice. Hmmmm. Add a dark secret that is hidden by two elderly women owning one of the local pensions, murmur of political machinations, drug dealers, an unfaithful husband, an elderly  woman wo likes young men, a Bulgarian artist in exile who jumps in the canal because she finds out she has been in bed with a Jew, a rich art dealer who is in love with a young man who disappears while his father abandons his lover for his sons ex-lover…

All is resolved in the end. Nothing was as it seemd at first. We find out what was hidden in the garden and get to know the past and the future of each character. Does it sound quirky? It sure was.

I think there is a lot going on in this novel that mirrors unresolved conflicts in Spark’s life and I’m sure from what little I have read after finishing the book that it would be interesting to analyze it in the light of this. Little incidents like the girl jumping into the canal to clean herself after having had sex with a Jew are meaningful when you know Muriel Spark had a falling out with her son because he was an Orthodox Jew and she a devout Catholic (as read on Wikipedia).

Since this is a very well written book, I can see how it could appeal to someone else. It’s a must for those who love novels set in Venice.

I hope others have been more successful in their book choices. Despite not having liked this, I will certainly read another of her novels soon.

Has anyone read Territorial Rights? Did you like it?

The Winner of the Muriel Spark E-Book Giveaway – The Hothouse by the East River

One week has passed and it’s time to announce the winner of the Muriel Spark e-book giveaway The Hothouse by the East River courtesy of Open Road Media.

I drew the winner via list generator.

The lucky winner is Nadine (Carpediemblogger)


This e-book is one of eight of Muriel Spark’s novels that have just been released.

There is still enough time to read something for Simon’s (Stuck in A Book) and Harriet’s (Harriet Devine’s Blog) Muriel Spark Week from April 23 – 29.

Muriel Spark E-Book Giveaway – The Hothouse by the East River

The poll has decided and the second e-book I’m giving away courtesy of Open Road Media is Muriel Sparks The Hothouse by the East River.

This book is one of eight of Muriel Spark’s novels that have just been released.

Here is what is said about the book

Touched by madness and haunted by a secret past, Paul and Elsa’s relationship reveals that there can be no normality for people who witnessed the worst of war

In 1970s New York, Paul and Elsa are like many other well-off middle-aged couples, worrying over their apartment and psychoanalyst bills by day, and meeting friends at restaurants by night. But this is not an ordinary couple with ordinary neuroses, as becomes clear when Paul convinces himself that Elsa’s shadow always points in the wrong direction. As Paul and Elsa’s involvement in World War II espionage begins to surface, the glitz and glamor of their lives is revealed to be nothing more than illusion.

The Hothouse by the East River is a delirious satire of superficial urban life in the shadow of one of modern history’s great horrors.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Muriel Spark including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the author’s archive at the National Library of Scotland.


If you win this giveaway you are still in time to join Muriel Spark week, hosted by Simon (Stuck in A Book) and Harriet (Harriet Devine’s Blog), which is taking place from April 23 – 29


If you would like to win this e-book, just leave a comment. The giveaway  winner will be announced next Tuesday, April 10 2012.

Muriel Spark E-Book Giveaway and Readalong Plans for April and May

With my own Literature and War Readalong and Carl’s Once Upon a Time Challenge which has just started, April and May look like busy months but in a very good way. Since I’m quite excited about some of the events I wanted to share them with you. There are some great readalongs taking place and it would be nice if the one or the other reading this would join as well.

April Reading Along with Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

The first readalong is Frank Delaney’s Ireland which im going to read together with Mel u from The Reading Life. The choice is inspired by his Irish Short Story Month. We will read and post on it either in week 2 or 3, in April. Should you want to join us, please leave a comment on my or Mel’s blog.

Emma from Book Around the Corner is hosting a yearlong book club and I’m going to join for the next book which is Tracy Chevalier’s Remarkable Creatures. The readalong takes place on Thursday, April 26.

In May I’m going to join Bettina (Liburuak) for a readalong of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The readalong takes place on May 31st. Details will be announced on Bettina’s blog, beginning of May.


As you know, Muriel Spark week, hosted by Simon (Stuck in A Book) and Harriet (Harriet Devine’s Blog) is going to take place from April 23 – 29.

Open Road Integrated Media has just released eight of Muriel Spark’s novels and I’m very glad that I have the opportunity to give away two e-books.

The first e-book I’m giving away is the famous The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. It’s a book I personally liked a lot.

If you would like to win this e-book, just leave a comment. The giveaway  winner will be announced next Tuesday, April 3 2012.

As I said before, Open Road Media offers two e-books. Which one will be the second book is up to you, that’s why I included a poll. Please vote for the second book you would like to be given away.

Please don’t click the category “other”. I couldn’t get rid of it but it doesn’t exist.

The book with the highest poll result will be given away next week.

The poll has been moved and can be found here

Muriel Spark Week 23 – 29 April 2012

I recently discovered on Danielle’s blog that Simon from Stuck in a Book organizes a Muriel Spark week in April. I have only read two of her novels so far, The Girls of Slender Means and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. I liked them both a lot but think I preferred The Girls of Slender Means which is set in London during WWII. It is more touching and has one of the most memorable endings ever. The Prime of Miss Brodie is excellent too and quite funny.

Going over my piles I discovered that I had two unread books by her. Unfortunately not the one that Simon likes best, Loitering with Intent.

The ones I have got are The Go-Away Bird and Other Stories and Territorial Rights which is set in Venice.

Which is your favourite Muriel Spark novel? Will you join as well? Here are the details Muriel Spark Week