The Driver's Seat - Muriel Spark

Summary from Amazon:
Described as 'a metaphysical shocker' at the time of its release, Muriel Sparks' The Driver's Seat is a taut psychological thriller, published with an introduction by John Lanchester in Penguin Modern Classics.
Lise has been driven to distraction by working in the same accountants' office for sixteen years. So she leaves everything behind her, transforms herself into a laughing, garishly-dressed temptress and flies abroad on the holiday of a lifetime. But her search for adventure, sex and new experiences takes on a far darker significance as she heads on a journey of self-destruction. Infinity and eternity attend Lise's last terrible day in an unnamed southern city, as she meets her fate. One of six novels to be nominated for a 'Lost Man Booker Prize', The Driver's Seat was adapted into a 1974 film, Identikit, starring Elizabeth Taylor.


I read this book as part of a new Book Club organised by the wonderful bookshop Looking Glass Books for #readwomen2014 and I think it's a perfect book to read and discuss! I came in having my thoughts about the book and I realised there were so many details I had missed! I think I'll reread the book soon and will probably see other things. It's one of those books that can have so many shapes that everyone can take something different out of it.

It's hard to talk about it without giving any spoilers (and this is definitely the type of book that can really use being read without knowing anything about it) so I'll keep things quite general. I learned that this book is Muriel Spark's favourite from all her works which is an interesting fact and I'm looking forward reading more of her books to try to find out why that is.

I have only read two of her books but I feel there are some common characteristics which I gather are very 'Spark'. I like that she has a style that is so intrinsically hers no matter how different the stories are. The writing is at times witty and playful but with crisp and sinister undercurrents. 

There are various themes in the book, it goes from religion to fashion and lifestyles. One of the things I loved the morst about this book is Spark's relation to the reader. It's as if Spark is tricking us into thinking one thing about the character or story (mostly using our prejudice) while actually writing the opposite. I found the book so inspiring to read because it really challenged the way I look at life and at stories as well. The title in itself is the key. Are we ever in the driver's seat? And if we are, like the main character in the book, are we actually in control? 

Lise's journey through the book gets more baffling and shocking as it goes and it is amazing how much this book can challenge the reader in a little over a 100 pages. the writing always goes straight to the point.

I don't think I want to say more for fear of spoiling the experience but I really loved it definitely want to read more of Muriel Spark's books!


Next book up for the book club is Honour by Elif Shafak which I'm really looking forward to reading!

Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction longlist 2014


Launched in 1996, the Prize is awarded every year to celebrate women's writing around the world. The judges this year were Helen Fraser, Mary Beard, Denise Mina, Caitlin Moran and Sophie Raworth. 

I used to only look at the shortlist but I've read so much and so much more varied books since last year that I'm actually incredibley excited about this year's longlist and have quite a few of my favourites I was expecting to be part of the list and others whom I wasn't expecting.

This year is also the year to read women writers (#readwomen2014) and the longlist for the Prize is the perfect source of inspiration if you're planning to read more women writer and are not quite sure where to start. I have to admit I generally read more books written by women (out of the 16 books I've read so far this year, 10 were written by women) but I'm always keen to discover new authors.

What do you think of the longlist?

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Fourth Estate
Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood, Bloomsbury
The Dogs of Littlefield by Suzanne Berne, Fig Tree
The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto, Viking
The Bear by Claire Cameron, Harvill Secker
Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter, Two Roads
The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter, Fig Tree
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, Granta
Reasons She Goes to the Woods by Deborah Kay Davies, Oneworld
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, Bloomsbury
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, Picador
The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner, Harvill Secker
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, Bloomsbury
The Undertaking by Audrey Magee, Atlantic Books
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride, Galley Beggar Press
Almost English by Charlotte Mendelson, Mantle
Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen, Hutchinson
The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout, Simon and Schuster
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, Little, Brown
All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld, Jonathan Cape

I've only read The Luminaries and I've had on my radar Americanah, Burial Rites, The Flamethrowers, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, Almost English, All The Birds, Singing and The Goldfinch of course so I'm looking forward to read those and discover the other authors from the longlist.