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Publisher's Summary

"You girls are my vocation... I am dedicated to you in my prime."

So says Miss Jean Brodie, a teacher unlike any other. She is proud and cultured. A romantic, with progressive, sometimes shocking ideas and aspirations for the girls in her charge. When she decides to transform a select group of pupils into the 'crème de la crème' at the Marcia Blaine School they become the Brodie set. In exchange for their undivided loyalty, the girls earn a special place of honour and privilege within the school. Yet they are also introduced to a startling new world of adult games and intrigues, and as boundaries are crossed so the difficulties start to unfold.

Miriam Margolyes, one of Britain's finest character actors, gives a highly accomplished performance; rediscover this classic on the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark's birth.

©1961 Copyright Administration Ltd (P)2011 Canongate Books

Featured Article: The Best Audiobooks Under 5 Hours


Books are pure magic: they transport us to other lands, help us learn about the world and ourselves, teach us new skills, and give us an escape from daily life. And thanks to audiobooks, we don't even have to stop what we're doing to enjoy them. You can visit Narnia while washing the dishes, or laugh at a comedian's childhood stories while riding your bike to work. Looking for an audiobook that can be finished in just a few sessions? These standout listens will immerse you for a few hours with captivating storylines and unforgettable performances. These are the best audiobooks under five hours.

What listeners say about The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

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Primed for Classics

"I shall remain at this education factory where my duty lies. There needs must be a leaven in the lump. Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life. The gang who oppose me shall not succeed."
- Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

Published in 1961 and set in a Scottish girl's school in the pre-World War II period (1930s) when Fascism was favorable (among those in their Prime) and on the rise, 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' tells the story of an unconventional teacher and her influence on a group or six girls (more probably, but the story focuses on six). It isn't original to say this, but it does read a bit like a female version of Dead Poet's Society, or perhaps A Separate Peace, but no not quite Lord of the Flies. Emotionally, the book resonates like Madame Bovary. Perhaps, one of the reasons the book vibrated so strongly with me is one of the pupils of Miss Brodie in her Prime reminds me of how I imagine my wife was in her tweens (Sandy).

A couple things sold me on this book. I loved its style and prose, and was enraptured by Miss Brodie with her unconventional, romantic, and desperate need to matter, to influence, to be something. As fallible as she is, and as amoral as methods (both in love and politics) become, there is something VERY human about her. The other character I loved was Sandy. Influenced by Miss Brodie, in her Prime, but just not in the way Miss Brodie intended, Sandy's romantic view of life mirrors in some ways Miss Brodie. But I loved the 10-year old Sandy with her wild fantasies about Alan Breck (see Kidnapped) or Mr. Rochester (see Jane EyreJane Eyre). Later her fantasy turns its full attention on Miss Brodie and her lovers. It is perfect.

Anyway, I read this because my natural man tends to gravitate more towards books written by men (just the statistics of classical books would do this), so when I think about it, I try and read a book I would normally pass over. I'm glad I found the radical Miss Jean Brodie while I was in my prime.

24 people found this helpful

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Good Book, Great Narration

This is a semi-biographical novel about the 1930s written in the early 1960s primarily following a group of female students from pre-teen to womanhood along with their influential teacher Miss Jean Brodie.

I was not a fan of the movie and put this book off for a long time. I enjoyed the book much more than the movie, but, for me, it did not quite rise to greatness or a must-read. The prose are very good, the narration and characters compelling and the story (mildly) interesting. The evolution of the Brodie girls over years and the changing relationship to their teacher is makes this book worth the time.

The narration is excellent.

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You’ve seen the play/movie...now this

A jaw dropping masterpiece, so much more layered, nuanced, and interesting (and hilarious) than the play/movie. A genius performance by Margolyes is the icing!

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Excellent story and outstanding reader.

This classic story really comes to life as read by Miriam Margolyes, with her beautiful accent and the way she is able to help create each character in your mind with the voices she gives them. I was sorry when this audiobook was over.

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SUPERB

A wonderfully written, intellectually complex, and insightful book. 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' is a cautionary tale about what it is to teach and what it is to learn. Unfortunately for those who would teach, our best pupils may understand and apply what we teach more than we realize or welcome.

3 people found this helpful

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People say stuff that they want to be true

This story accidentally explained for me why Republicans in the United States speak the way they do: saying things that they want to be true, in the moment, for reasons that they cannot say out loud. Miss Jean Brodie does that. She rules over a group of six young women, manipulating, cruelly insulting, all with a smile and a pat and a pose of propriety and care.

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This perfect gem is a Margolyes triumph

Set in the 1930s at a private Edinburgh school for girls, this charming, bewitching (not a word used much now but this book does cast a spell) account of an eccentric teacher and her far reaching influence on the lives of a group of her pupils is the author's best known work.

To judge by this truly wonderful, magical reading by Margolyes it might also be, without qualification, Spark's best work. Her clever books are always full of surprises, dark humour and puzzles for those that wish to think about what might lie below an apparently uncomplicated surface. This time all those qualities, and more, are present but there is also a depth of emotion and real feeling that is a surprise.

A book that will expand to touch all of your imagination and you will be the richer for the experience. It is the exemplary reading that so elevates it. I have never heard better.

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Worst book ever

Why is this even a book? It is really, really bad. The performance was great, but, sadly, she had a dumpster fire to perform.

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An absolute delight of a book

After listening to this book I now wish to buy it to re-read it in a few years. I will however forever hear Miriam Margolyes narrate this book in my head. I recommend "The prime of miss Jean Brodie" as a book to read for English class (I am from the Netherlands), I wish I knew about it when I was 16.

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  • JH
  • 05-08-19

Just a delight to listen to

Days are rife with political despair, violence and personal difficulties. This book just warms you and pulls you into the prime of Ms. Brodie and her elite students.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Adrienne
  • 12-23-12

Sharp wit that doesn't date

Maggie Smith's representation of Miss Jean Brodie in the film from the fifties, made me want to read this text. It didn't disappoint. The language is crisp and dry and unforgiving and the reader moves through a series of responses towards the flawed protagonist. None of the girls is painted as a likeable character and therefore our sympathy for them at the hands of this fascist, misguided, arrogant educator is limited.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Margaret
  • 05-13-18

Magical performance

I was a fan of this book as a teenager, seeing it from the perspective of youth. Now I am a lady of a certain age, I decided to revisit and when I learned of the reader’s identity it went straight to the top of my list. It’s still a fabulous study of “what you see depends upon your point of view” exploring the impact of life experience, but the magical voice performance truly brought each of the characters to life. It felt as though every word was a drop of the elixir of life, a perfect fusion of author and actor, like a breathtaking dance across so many emotions.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Patricia
  • 10-21-14

So much more to the story than I remembered

I read this book at least 40 years ago when I was a schoolgirl myself. It is interesting to revisit this book as there is so much more to it than I gleaned from it as a teenager. I would say it is worth a second or even third listen or read. Miriam Margolyes narrated this book brilliantly.

8 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr. B. Martin
  • 03-24-13

Wonderful to have an audio version of this

Great unabridged recording of this classic novel. If would be good to have the other versions here too, one read by the wonderful Nadia May, which I have not heard yet and the other by the incomparable Geraldine McEwan, which I have. Miss McEwan (who also played Jean Brodie in the newly released TV series on DVD) reads this with a touch of genius but never goes over-the-top. I hope her version will be available at some point as ISIS Audio no longer have the rights to it and it would be a great loss to the listening public if another publisher did not acquire them.



Bruce Martin

7 people found this helpful

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  • Jenny Murphy
  • 09-03-15

great

loved it. layers of meaning and words of wisdom. i always feel muriel spark gives us her life experiences wrapped in a tasty package

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • A G R
  • 02-03-13

Very enjoyable

Beautifully read - this text was brought to life and was a joy to listen to.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • JF7588
  • 06-11-12

So Good

I've lost count of the times I have read this remarkable novel - so short, so profound, so dense with meaning, so lightly written, witty and original to its very bones: a miracle. In truth, there is, out there somewhere, an unabridged reading by Geraldine MacEwan that is alive to every word and comma - a virtuoso performance - but the present reader is no slouch either.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Clavs
  • 03-22-18

A really quick engaging listen

I really enjoyed this amazingly performed book. It truly captures that confusing sense of growing up. It really made me think about the way we view people and how that changes with time.

It's short and sweet, a great listen.

1 person found this helpful

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  • C.
  • 01-21-18

Delightful

Witty and fast pacing, ironic and charming, elegantly and cheekily delivered. A very pleasurable read.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Lindsay Kay Caddy
  • 12-09-12

Interesting story

I bought this book as I remembered watching the film as a child although I couldn't remember the plot. Interesting characters and good voices. A lovely description of what life is like in an all girls school during puberty. I left an all girls grammar school 10 years ago and even though the book was written some time ago it still evoked memories of my very traditional school life. I didn't feel like I could give it more than 3 stars though because despite its quirkiness and charm it wasn't that interesting, I felt there could have been further plot development and I feel the ending was rather abrupt.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-15-18

crème de la crème

It was lovely to rediscover this book which I read first in the late 60's.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-03-15

Wonderfully sharp and witty

What a great story superbly read! Loved the caustic wit and unexpected twists of the plot

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  • Angela
  • 04-04-15

fantastic reading thank you

I loved the tv series and I love the book...thank you I look forward to more reading the classics