Appointment in Arezzo – Review

muriel spark

Appointment in Arezzo by Alan Taylor

“This book is an intimate, fond and funny memoir of one of the greatest novelists of the last century.”

Alan Taylor has written a very personal and compelling biography of his friend, the novelist, Muriel Spark. Spark wrote 22 novels which will be coming out from Polygon next year in handsome hardback editions to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Spark’s birth. Best known for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Spark also wrote short stories, plays, reviews, essays and biographies.

“The Muriel Spark 100 programme will celebrate the life and literary achievements of one of Scotland’s finest and most internationally respected writers across the year, through a series of events, including talks, exhibitions, readings, publications and screenings.”

In advance of the reprints and the 100 years program Alan Taylor’s biography is published in November 2017. I received an advanced copy in return for a review.

Taylor first met the author in 1990 in Tuscany when he interviewed her. They hit it off and Taylor subsequently house sat for her as well as accompanied her on some of her foreign trips. He came to know her well and this is an intimate portrait.

Written in a very companionable style the book creates a colourful picture of Spark. A passionate and fiercely intelligent woman and one of our greatest writers. Taylor includes the contentious stuff – her attitude to her Jewish roots, her failed marraige, her estrangement from her son and her self-exile from Scotland. But the threads of her life are woven into a tale of warmth that shows the great affection Taylor had for her.

It does what a biography should – it brings to life the subject and makes you know them better. Spark comes across as someone you’d like to invite to a dinner party. I’ve read several of Spark’s books and she’s one of those authors you look out for in second hand shops, so a new set of hardbacks is very welcome.

If you are a fan of Muriel Spark then this is a must have biography. If you are just generally interested in writers lives it is also well worth your time. Recommended.




Published by suttope

Pete W Sutton is a writer and editor. His two short story collections – A Tiding of Magpies and The Museum for Forgetting – were shortlisted for Best Collection in the British Fantasy Awards in 2017 & 2022 respectively. His novel – Seven Deadly Swords – was published by Grimbold Books. He has edited several short story anthologies and is the editor for the British Fantasy Society Horizons fiction magazine.

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