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Publisher's Summary

The Ballad of Peckham Rye is the wickedly farcical fable of a blue-collar town turned upside down.

When the firm of Meadows, Meade & Grindley hires Dougal Douglas (a.k.a. Douglas Dougal) to do "human research" into the private lives of its workforce, they are in no way prepared for the mayhem, mutiny, and murder he will stir up. In fact, this Music Man of the thoroughly modern corporation changes the lives of all the eccentric characters he meets, from Miss Merle Coverdale, head of the typing pool, to V.R. Druce, unsuspecting Managing Director.

This is Dame Muriel Spark at her most devilishly piquant.

©1960 Muriel Spark (P)1996 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"We are never out of touch, in a Spark novel, with the happiness of creation; the sudden willful largesse of magic and wit, the cunning tautness of suspense." (John Updike, The New Yorker)
"Not only funny but startlingly original, the legendary character of Dougal Douglas....may not have been boasting when he referred so blithely to his association with the devil." ( Washington Post)

What listeners say about The Ballad of Peckham Rye

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

An open door may be dangerous

When a minor demon, in the guise of an eccentric Scot called Dougal, enters the South London work force in the 1950s many lives are disrupted. His odd behavior calls many settled citizens to see that there might be other choices in life. But being undecided can be a torment. A sort of fable for adults this is not Spark's best work. Unusual, especially for its time (1960), but not exciting. A good reading helps it along but, due to the nature of the material, there is little emotional engagement on offer.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

I've really liked some other books by Muriel Spark (Prime of Miss Jean Brodie; Loitering With Intent; Memento Mori) but this one is quite different and I stopped listening after about the first hour. Very unpleasant characters that I didn't want to spend time on. Maybe the book was going somewhere but I couldn't really tell and couldn't be bothered to find out. The narration was good but perhaps a bit heavy on the accents, almost sounded like caricatures.

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for L
  • L
  • 10-21-16

Dougal Douglas comes to town

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Only to friends who are interested in slower-pace fiction, and ones that have little plot.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

I was very satisfied with it.

What about Nadia May’s performance did you like?

She was lively and told the story well, and I felt like she was connecting me with the characters.

Any additional comments?

This book is a bit bizarre, and therefore is rather hard to actually review. The story is somewhat listless, before making its way to a point, but even that is vague. However, there were fun bits, funny bits, parts where you were waiting to find out what happened next...

It also provided a pretty interesting perspective, and I loved listening to description of Peckham Rye, somewhere I once lived.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Alice
  • Alice
  • 09-09-15

Great performance of a fantastic novel.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely - this novel is one of my favourites, and the performance certainly did it justice.

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for K. Manwaring
  • K. Manwaring
  • 10-26-18

Sympathy for the Devil

A witty resituating of 'Master and Margarita' in London. A brilliant satire of English life.