reading · review

Review: THE DRIVER’S SEAT by Muriel Spark


  • PUBLISHED: First published in 1970 and more recently on April 27th, 2006.
  • PUBLISHED BY: Penguin Modern Classics (2006 Edition)
  • GENRE: Classics, Contemporary Fiction
  • FORMATS AVAILABLE: Paperback, Hardback, Kindle Edition
  • ISBN-13: 9780141188348
    1. Aiding and Abetting
    2. The Finishing School
    3. The Ballad of Peckham Rye
    4. Loitering with Intent
    5. The Comforters
    6. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
  • Rating: 5star-rating (2)



Lise is thin, neither good-looking nor bad-looking. One day she walks out of her office, acquires a gaudy new outfit, adopts a girlier tone of voice, and heads to the airport to fly south. On the plane she takes a seat between two men. One is delighted with her company, the other is deeply perturbed. So begins an unnerving journey into the darker recesses of human nature.


Two reviews in one day. I think that might be a record.

Right, so my first impression of this book was that it was quick, easy and something to pass the time before I move onto a book with a bit more to it. Let’s just say that this book had a lot more meat to it than I first thought.

We start the book off following Lise on her quest to find the perfect summer dress – something bright, colourful and eye-catching. We get a small glance into her life: she’s successful, unmarried, plain and well…off her rockers.

Muriel Spark is not an author I had heard of until I spied the little leaflet in my local Waterstones store, announcing it as their book club read of the month (for April). So, on the premise that I would attend the meeting on May 4th. I purchased this little gem alongside ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children‘ by Ransom Riggs because, it was included in their Buy One Get One Half Price deal.

Lise to me is a very challenged character socially and emotionally. To me it felt like, she didn’t know how to respond and react to people. It was almost like she was constantly acting, and therefore was not a very reliable character. The book is told in the third person yet, it feels like Lise herself is actually the one speaking most of the time because of the way Spark describes the other characters and their behaviours.

When I first read that Lise was to be found murdered I was at first surprised that such a thing would happen to this unhappy woman, who is desperate need of attention through wearing garish clothing, and speaking loudly to whomever is near. However, as the book continued, her death gave off a sense of proper finality and relief but also, left a series of unanswered questions like, why did she decide to visit where she did? and why did she decide that her death should be so horrific?

If I could go back to 2006 and meet Muriel Spark I would ask her those very questions but I have a feeling she would tell me that they are in the book.

This is a difficult book to read in the way Lise’s actions ebb and flow in dramatic twists and turns but overall, it is an excellent read and well worth the £7.99 price tag.


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