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Read æ The Abbess of Crewe Ç PDF, DOC, TXT, eBook or Kindle ePUB free × “The short dirk in the hands of Muriel Spark has always been a deadly weapon” said The New York Times and “never so than in The Abbess of Crewe” An elegant little fable about intrigue corruption and electronic surveillanc“The short dirk in the hands of Muriel Spark has always been a deadly weapon” said The New York Times and “never so than in The Abbess of Crewe” An elegant little fable about intrig. Politics are an ephemeral human enterprise pervading every aspect of society not just our administrative capitals legislatures and board rooms Here we see a canny and deft politician at work Her name is Alexandra and she is a conueror She manipulates those around her in order to become the next Abbess of Crewe That the context here is a Roman Catholic convent and the voters all nuns doesn't prevent the politics from becoming very dirty and very ugly By pitching her language just so Spark reminds us of a bunch of Chicago hoods discussing a hit when in actuality all that is at stake is the leadership of a religious order The tortuous use of scripture is all too believable Like a Little Stalin the Abbess has installed a vast system of bugs throughout the cloister In one special room multiple reel to reel recorders spin and spin As always Spark writes with a subtle patterning of motifs and implies than she says Her characterizations are adroit and snappy As with her best books including The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and Memento Mori she loves an isolated community whose confines in some ways become as important as the characters themselves One suspects this was an early writerly crutch which forced her to focus on a limited cast Somehow it became a hallmark of her mature work as well The Abbess of Crewe is very good but not as good as the titles mentioned above Recommended but not as a starting point

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Glish poetry and carpets of “amorous green” has bugged the convent and rigged her election But the cat gets out of the bag and plunged into scandal the serene Abbess faces a Vatican inuir. Short this novel may be but it is anything but sweet Viciously sharp is nearer the mark The players of Watergate are now clothed in the vestments of nuns and transposed to the fictitious Abbey of Crewe The old Abbess Hildegarde has died and it is time to elect her successor Rules forbid canvassing for the election of Abbess but subtle means are apparently available The two contenders are Alexandra and Felicity Unbeknownst to most of the sisters Alexandra has most of the convent electronically bugged and most interactions are taped She uses this to manipulate situations to her advantage It is known that Felicity has been having an affair with a young Jesuit named Thomas This fact is exposed when two young Jesuits at the behest of Alexandra's Jesuit friends break into the convent and steal her silver thimble from her sewing box This box also has a secret compartment where her love letters are kept and it is the theft of the thimble which alerts her to the fact that they have been read Felicity calls the police and an international scandal is unleashed This brief satire is very clever and extremely funny I genuinely laughed out loud at several points in the narrative and I am not as closely conversant with all the details of the Watergate scandal as I might be I know the basic facts naturally Highly recommended

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The Abbess of CreweUe corruption and electronic surveillance The Abbess of Crewe is set in an English Benedictine convent Steely and silky Abbess Alexandra whose aristocratic tastes run to pâté fine wine En. Were spectacularly corrupt convents a Seventies motif At any rate while reading The Abbess of Crewe I kept getting flashbacks to the story of the decadent nuns in Leonora Carrington's The Hearing Trumpet which appeared in English around the same timeSeveral GR reviewers including fellow group members older than I am have described Spark's novella as a heavy handed satire on Watergate I'm a bit too young to have heard about Watergate and its fallout in the news and I only know a basic outline of the events so whilst reading I couldn't tell how closely or cringeworthily minor characters resembled Washington political actors of the 70s At first it seemed daft that in the book a scandal in a convent was such a big deal in the media and I felt the device was clumsy but I increasingly found myself buying into the general off kilter weirdness of it all characteristic of fiction from the 60s and 70s complete with a battle between forces of 'free love' and enlightened reform versus a combination of archaic tradition snobbery and expedient use of modern opportunities that Jacob Rees Mogg would adore In the final chapter a thoroughly tabloid worthy incident was revealed which along with remembering how much better staffed and how much parochial British newsrooms used to be cemented my impression that the book worked and Crewe Abbey seemed plausible as big news than some of the strange viral phenomena of recent years and in keeping with the trivial scandals about politicians' private lives which beset the 1990s John Major governmentDespite the potentially silly subject matter I was impressed from the very first by the writing which made me take the book seriously than I expected to Early on there were sentences that felt to me like words found carved on stone and worn away by a couple of hundred years' erosion or enscribed by hand on parchment and vellum They befitted the Abbess's conversational declaration that Here in the Abbey of Crewe we have discarded history We have entered the sphere dear Sisters of mythologyWho doesn’t yearn to be part of a myth at whatever the price in comfort The monastic system is in revolt throughout the rest of the world thanks to historical development Here within the ambience of mythology we have consummate satisfaction we have peace’Later the style seemed simply to be the crisp economical sometimes waspish prose of mid 20th century literature and of Spark in particular but it was still very goodThe book set me wondering exactly when and how Catholicism in Britain became partly associated with snobbery and gentility it certainly was at the time of the post war Catholic novelists eg Waugh Greene Angus Wilson several of whom Mark Lawson listed in this introduction to Spark's Loitering With Intent although the legal rights of Catholics did not become eual to those of Anglicans until the 19th century A sense of romance associated with the old recusant families perhaps proliferated along with the neo Gothic aestheticism and the zeal of upper middle class convertsThere is a lot to unpack in this book especially if you don't come to it with a thorough knowledge of Watergate and poetry and I think it would reward a bit time the selections of Bible verses other religious texts and poems the Abbess reads seem likely to augment the meaning of various scenes The recent poems are named on the book's copyright page but there aren't clues about the authorship of all the earlier uoted poems only one of which is very well known Marvell's 'To His Coy Mistress' and I don't think I'd previously heard of Henry King and his 'Exeuy' of 1657 which sits very nicely among the famous metaphysicals The poetry would have made the novella a considerably demanding read back when there was no way of looking up lines to identify the poems In these days of giving little benefit of the doubt to the politically dubious Ezra Pound's I am homesick after mine own kind uoted several times here sounds when knowing the author like something sinister than merely wanting to hang out with people you click with And harking back again to The Hearing Trumpet one could see it as hinting that perhaps the Abbess' own kind was not nuns or perhaps even people This is a silly comical book too not above cheap sitcom laughs The stately Abbess of Crewe herself must have been named after a line in the weekend ritual intonation of England's secular religion the football Final Score heard in most homes across the land in the pre multichannel years Incidentally there is no sense of place about Crewe in the novel not even a cheap joke about trains It's not clear whether the convent is near Crewe or simply named Crewe Abbey and located somewhere else in England The recipients of Sister Gertrude's foreign missionary activities are satirical in ways that could have been going along with antiuated colonial attitudes like plenty of 1970s comedy or laughing at them and at the idea of Victorian style missionaries this day and age eg ‘I’m at a very delicate point in my negotiations between the cannibal tribe and that vegetarian sect on the other side of the mountain But it seemed settled that Spark was laughing at old fashioned missionaries once it reached the ridiculousness of the sparse wastes of Iceland where she hopes to introduce daily devotions and central heating into the igloos What with the Cod Wars in the news on and off for years by 1974 British readers would have known very well that Icelanders were Christians and did not live in igloos I felt comfortable with this book than I did while reading Loitering With Intent or Miss Jean Brodie because I'd never expected it to be comfortable as I had with them It never sounded ostensibly cosy only to confront me with hints that things may not be as they seem then with disconcerting villainy The Abbess is uite a villain and she and her crew are imposing and flamboyant personalities than any nuns I ever met through school Many of their names may be Anglo Saxon but their stories are like those of the corrupt late medieval church refracted through the technology and media of the late 20th century