The Driver's Seat

The Driver’s Seat

By Muriel Spark

I first read this book for my MA program and was completely blown away.

This is the story of the last days of Lise, a stranger of a protagonist, who goes on vacation in Europe and is murdered.

You might think I just gave everything away…but in fact, this very basic plot and the murder within it are literally, just the tip of the iceberg. The New York Times called this book “so stark as to be nightmarish,” and I could not agree more. You know from the beginning what is going to happen to Lise but still, somehow, through the twists and turns into who this girl actually might be and what she might actually be doing, will be completely shocked when the climax finally happens.

The Driver’s Seat, in many ways, reminds me of The Stranger by Camus (another of my favorite books). The protagonist is foreign and distant- you do not know this person as you want to and you cannot relate to the things she says or does. You leave this book in a slight daze, thinking to yourself that you just read one of the most haunting, complex, and darkly-compelling-yet-lovely books ever written.

The more I read this book, the more I love it. The more I read this book, the more I notice and the more respect I have for Spark as a writer.

At first, I wondered if this was an academic’s book- meaning, a book appreciated for elements that a casual reader might miss or not understand. And while it may be true that many aspects that make this book so incredible might slip past the radar of a casual reader, I have learned the overall haunting, bleak, and complicated aspects- everything that makes this book so unique- are apparent to anyone who turns the pages.

Open your mind and dare to venture away from typical popular fiction. This book will leave you breathless and dying to talk to someone else who has shared the experience of Lise and her unexpected story.

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