Classic Book Review: The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark


This book appeared on the Waterstones recommended reads of the month a couple of months ago and seeing as I wanted to revisit some of the ‘classic’ works the literature world has to offer I picked it up straight away.

Spark’s protagonist is a middle aged woman called Lise.  We meet Lise as she is screaming at a shop assistant for daring to present a dress as stain resistant.  The mere insinuation Lise may require a stain resistant dress drives her to flounce out of the shop.  OK…so she is a bit weird…maybe she was having an ‘off’ day? Erm, no. The story gets weirder and weirder with constant references to a multicoloured coat which attracts attention that the reader is never certain Lise appreciates or not.  We then learn that Lise will end up murdered – this is a nugget given early on by Spark.  The only suspense that carries you through to the end is how, when and where does she die?  The answers to these questions are quite frankly slightly unsatisfactory.


I hate spoilers but unfortunately, friends, there is no way around it. Scroll to “SPOILER OVER” for last comments!

Lise meets a random man in a hotel where she explains that she essentially wants him to murder her in a specific way – his reward?  Having sex with her after.


For a book that is little over 100 pages I was expecting some tour de force describing a woman who is in ‘The Driver’s Seat’ and taking control of her life.  Yes, Lise does do this after 16 years of working in the same office but not in the way one expects.  I was thinking Revolutionary Road but…no.  This does not come close.

Shame as I had heard of Spark’s works and I was hoping to find a new (but old!) author to love.

Have you read the book?  What did you think of the ending?  What did you think of Lise?

Recommended for: mmmm – a bit difficult this one to recommend!

Rating: 2/5 (the dark humour and pace of the book was very good despite the plot!)

Favourite quote: “I never trust the airlines from those countries where the pilots believe in the afterlife”

Thanks for reading!  I hope you enjoyed the post.

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