A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Saturday Shorts Week 38
Welcome to our weekend series for 2014. Every Saturday this year one of our staff will suggest a favorite short story from the library’s collection, all of them a great choice for quick weekend reading.
It starts on a train from Edinburgh to London in 1944. In an eerie compartment packed with sleeping riders our narrator meets a young nursemaid and a soldier. She doesn’t like the scruffy-looking soldier, no matter how friendly he seems, and excitedly accepts an offer to stay in the home of the nursemaid’s employers, who happen to be out of town.
It’s basically a drab, if tense, little wartime narrative at first. The house is a disappointment. There’s rationing to worry about. There’s the constant dread of the bomb sirens. Then suddenly, about half-way through, the story begins to shift to the surreal. The house is transformed. Our soldier returns in romantic fashion. Conversations get weird. It gets colorful, then it gets sad, then it’s just baffling…
“The House of the Famous Poet” is almost impossible to describe. It’s got layers, it’s got emotional depth, it will capture you’re imagination, and it will leave you with lots of questions. It’s a good place to start if you’re new to Muriel Spark, but it will also be an interesting revelation for anyone only familiar with Spark’s more famous novels like The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Ballad of Peckham Rye.
Review by Matthew