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Extended Audio Sample The Finishing School Audiobook, by Muriel Spark Click for printable size audiobook cover
2.62 out of 52.62 out of 52.62 out of 52.62 out of 52.62 out of 5 2.62 (34 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Muriel Spark Narrator: Wanda McCaddon Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2006 ISBN: 9781455182626
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College Sunrise is a vaguely disreputable finishing school in Lausanne, Switzerland. Rowland Mahler and his wife, Nina, run the school as a way to support themselves while he works, somewhat falteringly, on his novel. Into his creative writing class comes seventeen-year-old Chris Wiley, a literary prodigy whose historical novel-in-progress on Mary Queen of Scots and the murder of her husband Lord Darnley has already excited the interest of publishers. The inevitable results are keen envy and a game of cat and mouse not free of sexual jealousy and attraction.

Nobody writing has a keener instinct than Muriel Spark for hypocrisy, self-delusion, and moral ambiguity, or a more deliciously satirical eye. The Finishing School is certain to be another Spark landmark.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Wittily recalls Spark’s best-known work, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie…Sparks so brilliantly captures extreme states of mind—paranoia, hysteria, neurosis, psychosis—because she organizes her chaotic and centrifugal subject matter through tightly structured plots and luminously precise language.”

    Times Literary Supplement (London)

  • “No discussion of plot or character can do justice to the quality of a Sparknovel. Her genius lies in her tone…This short novel is an eloquent, subtle, poetic exploration of what words are and what they do to us.”

    Times (London)

  • “[Spark has] the most sharply original fictional imagination of our time…Starting her career as a poet, [she] in many ways remains one—not least in her deftness at finding images in unexpected places.”

    Sunday Times (London)

  • “Another Spark classic…An exploration of teenage homosexuality, attempted murder, jealousy, adultery, all dealt with in the most polite and darkly comic way.”

    Tatler 

  • “A brimming supply of wit, drollery, understatement, and plain human interest…Another perfect little novel of manners form the ever-wondrous Spark: a microcosm of the world we live in, constructed with wizardry, delicacy, sharp eye, and huge heart.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  •  “A cool, delightful little book of bad deeds and good manners.”

    Publishers Weekly

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Keely | 2/4/2014

    " Anemic little book. I felt at first like whole paragraphs were missing and as it progressed like whole chapters were missing. Some snappy writing here and there with interesting observations but little else. No real sense of time and place. Could be 1960 could be 2005 except for allusions to emails. Actually the whole thing is like an allusion to a real novel. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shelleen Toland | 2/4/2014

    " A book about students at a finishing school full of jealousy and affairs. It was ok. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 sharon | 1/11/2014

    " Interesting quick read-I like her characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Callie | 1/10/2014

    " I know I read this book all wrong. You should read it one or two sittings and you should be lucid while reading it. It took me all of 3 weeks, although it is very short, and I read it just before I nodded off to sleep each night. Sooooooo...anything I could say about it would not be very enlightening. I sort of feel as if I skimmed along the surface of it and that its message never penetrated the fog of my exhausted brain. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Becky | 1/6/2014

    " Crazy cast of characters and an implausible plot yet somehow believable. Plan to read more Muriel Spark. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rctgale | 12/25/2013

    " Little weight to this little book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Daisy | 12/13/2013

    " What an odd, disjointed sort of novel. Written I think when Muriel Spark was in her 80s, it feels a lot like notes taken for a novel, which is in fact what one character does in the story. There are lots of little tangents and peripheral characters, all of which is interesting but kind of superficial. I did like it though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jo | 11/7/2013

    " I found this book Funny and thought provoking but I'm not sure I 'got it' entirely "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Denise | 10/29/2013

    " Nice, short read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jonfaith | 9/30/2013

    " breezy and swift, though aside from its ascerbic humor it had lacked gravity. The Finishing School was a Murdochian sketch pushed forward slightly into realization. The time twisted totems of education and affection pull up short of Don't Stand So Close To Me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robyn | 9/22/2013

    " I love Muriel Spark's work because it is quite wicked underneath that English charm. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janet | 9/19/2013

    " A little novella about jealousy. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Thomasin | 9/18/2013

    " I love Spark but disliked this book. Started out with some promise--students living in France at a sketchy boarding school--but fell short of what I had hoped. Ridiculous and dull ending. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 DL | 6/6/2013

    " Muriel Spark wows me every time. Hooray for writers like her! The story is masterful, and oh, so subtle. If no one's planning a movie for this one yet, they definitely should. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tami | 4/1/2013

    " because the book was so short, i actually finished it but it was very very bad. i would not recommend this book to anyone. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Fran | 1/22/2013

    " I'm the kind of person that can go through life without having to write a novel. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lauren | 11/29/2012

    " Eh, I read this on the way to and from "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." I recommend "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" and I recommend rereading "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" for the umpteenth time. This, not so much. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bernard | 11/8/2012

    " so english "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cherie | 9/18/2012

    " An interesting exploration of envy and obsession, but lacks the finesse of some of Muriel Spark's other works, such as the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie or the Girls of Slender Means. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lora Becker | 6/22/2012

    " tried to listen to in Audio format....really difficult to get into and very hard to understand accent....may try to read hard copy instead and see if any good "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristin | 12/30/2011

    " A lovely morsel from one of my favourite authors...Spark creates such rich characters - love the juxtaposition of angst/ennui! I've read this one at least twice a year since it was published. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Margaret | 11/2/2011

    " For me, this was reminiscent of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie only in that it took place at a school. In comparison, The Finishing School's characters are paper-thin, and although I occasionally found it amusing, I never found it absorbing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aaron | 10/16/2011

    " great story that can be read in a day. m.sparks was catholic, liked proust, and loved tuscany:) "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Diana | 7/15/2011

    " A quick read with much tension. Worth reading, but this book will not stick to me like a 5 star book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sharonm | 7/3/2011

    " Bland, short book set in a roving finishing school. This was a sort of send-up of writers. Spark made fun of the characters in a very understated way. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Erin | 6/28/2011

    " the characters were so one dimentional that even the author felt the need to reintroduce them everytime they were spoken about! Add that to the flat plot and well...Im glad it was a library book. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 KJ | 4/25/2011

    " This was pretty awful but as usual I finished it just so that I could be sure. I felt like I was a publisher or a literary agent reading a really crappy submission from someone who just wanted very badly to finish writing a damn novel. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jonfaith | 10/13/2010

    " breezy and swift, though aside form its ascerbic humor it had lacked gravity. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janet | 7/25/2010

    " A little novella about jealousy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sharonm | 6/6/2010

    " Bland, short book set in a roving finishing school. This was a sort of send-up of writers. Spark made fun of the characters in a very understated way. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Diana | 5/14/2010

    " A quick read with much tension. Worth reading, but this book will not stick to me like a 5 star book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Steffi | 9/12/2009

    " A little bit boring, only the scenes about the lessons in comme il faut are funny. I prefer the biographies by Spark. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anne | 9/6/2009

    " plucked from the pile @ the craft workshop for the Reading Preserve to be held at the Weho book fair in October...I'm embarrassed to say that I always forget which Spark books I have read. More so with Alice Munro, but same malady...This one was good, again. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Lora | 9/4/2009

    " tried to listen to in Audio format....really difficult to get into and very hard to understand accent....may try to read hard copy instead and see if any good "

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About the Author
Author Muriel Spark

Muriel Spark (1918–2006) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. She was the author of over twenty novels, including The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, as well as critical biographies, radio plays, children’s books, poetry, and short-story collections. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1993 and a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres in 1996.

About the Narrator

Wanda McCaddon (a.k.a. Nadia May or Donada Peters) has narrated well over six hundred titles for major audiobook publishers, has earned numerous Earphones Awards, and was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine.