I read a couple of novels by Muriel Spark when I was at university, but added this one to my list after having seen it recommended by a number of writers. It is completely different to anything I have read before by Spark and was a real page turner. Coupled to the fact that it is extremely short, I read it in a matter of days and I imagine that many people would polish it off in one sitting.
The novel follows a woman, Lise, as she goes on holiday. But we are told a couple of chapters in that “she will be found tomorrow morning dead”, and this fact is alluded to many times throughout the novel. This is one of those stories that will leave you guessing right to the final sentence and, once you have finished reading, suddenly everything falls into place. The shortness of this work also means that nothing is extraneous to the plot and the tension never lets up.
Lise is an unusual and fairly unlikeable character, but a memorable one. Despite the fairly bland description of her as “neither good-looking nor bad-looking” and “as young as twenty-nine or as old as thirty-six, but hardly younger, hardly older”, her behaviour in the opening pages of the book arrested my attention. It is clear that there is something strange about her, but again we do not find out what this is until right at the end.
It’s difficult to write about this book without giving too much away, but I hope I have managed to convey how intriguing and gripping I found The Driver’s Seat. It is a novel that left me with many questions, and perhaps some suspension of disbelief is needed, but it is a book that has stayed with me long after I finished it.
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