Fiction by Muriel Spark
Delicious for its wit and poise, The Comforters (1957) was a stunning debut. With her now signature air of easy, sunny eeriness, Spark lights up the darkest things — blackmail, drownings, breakdowns, human evil. Caroline, “a most jumpy woman at the best of times”; the whiny converts; the loathsome busybody Georgina Hogg (“that gargoyle”); a diabolist bookseller; a ring of smugglers and the sublime, cunning grandmother who runs it: these are Spark’s meat. She deals with them in her dazzling and rigorous fashion — and here, in her first novel, with so early and so satisfyingly complete a mastery.