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Tuesday, 2 August 2011

1969 Booker Prize Shortlist - The Public Image – Muriel Spark

I was lucky enough to stumble across my copy of this in a second hand bookshop, a first edition hardback in very good condition and for the bargain price of $30.

This one is going to be a hard one to review without giving too much away.
Certainly one for those who want a quick read, I managed to get through it in three days and with a bit more dedication could probably knocked it over in one or two sittings. Not a complex book, but one that could still be considered pertinent today, with the main character (Annabel) being an actress who has recently hit the big time and has had a public image created by a press secretary. 42 years later this could well be the story of any Hollywood starlet (in this novel Annabel’s a British star yet to make it in the USA but you get what I mean?)

Early on in the novel we learn that Annabel’s husband believes she is “stupid”, he resents her success, he’s a better actor, he resents the fact that she is the breadwinner, he prefers the company of his friends to his wife – but as the book progresses we find that Annabel’s public image of being a “lady-tiger” with a perfect marriage and a prim and proper external view is what is keeping her employed as a leading lady. What will win out in this clash of external image and internal strife?

Without spoiling the plot I’ll just say that Annabel’s put into a situation where she needs to protect her public image in order to protect her career – will she succeed?

Another highly readable and enjoyable book from the 1969 list – I only own the three and I enjoyed the lot which is better than some years of the Booker!!! Given I have yet to read the winner from that year I very much look forward to tracking down copies of the remaining three novels.

All up, I enjoyed “Impossible Object” the most of the three, however did find it the most challenging.
From the 1970 list I only own “John Brown’s Body” by A.L. Barker – which I’ve just started to read so my next instalment will be a few days (or a week or so) away.


elljay said...

I've been googling to find who all was on the 1969 long list, but haven't come up with anything. Do you have an online list for this?

Tonymess said...

Long lists didn't start until only a few years ago. SO just the shortlist it is.