1969 Booker Prize Shortlist – The Public Image – Muriel Spark

I was lucky enough to stumble across my copy of this in a second hand bookshop, a first edition hardback in very good condition and for the bargain price of $30.

This one is going to be a hard one to review without giving too much away.
Certainly one for those who want a quick read, I managed to get through it in three days and with a bit more dedication could probably knocked it over in one or two sittings. Not a complex book, but one that could still be considered pertinent today, with the main character (Annabel) being an actress who has recently hit the big time and has had a public image created by a press secretary. 42 years later this could well be the story of any Hollywood starlet (in this novel Annabel’s a British star yet to make it in the USA but you get what I mean?)

Early on in the novel we learn that Annabel’s husband believes she is “stupid”, he resents her success, he’s a better actor, he resents the fact that she is the breadwinner, he prefers the company of his friends to his wife – but as the book progresses we find that Annabel’s public image of being a “lady-tiger” with a perfect marriage and a prim and proper external view is what is keeping her employed as a leading lady. What will win out in this clash of external image and internal strife?

Without spoiling the plot I’ll just say that Annabel’s put into a situation where she needs to protect her public image in order to protect her career – will she succeed?

Another highly readable and enjoyable book from the 1969 list – I only own the three and I enjoyed the lot which is better than some years of the Booker!!! Given I have yet to read the winner from that year I very much look forward to tracking down copies of the remaining three novels.

All up, I enjoyed “Impossible Object” the most of the three, however did find it the most challenging.
From the 1970 list I only own “John Brown’s Body” by A.L. Barker – which I’ve just started to read so my next instalment will be a few days (or a week or so) away.
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