As Miss Brodie never fails to remind her students, she has reached the prime of her life. And she is determined that, before they transfer from the Junior school to the Senior, they shall receive all the benefit of it. So while the girls dutifully hold their history or mathematics books open in front of them, Miss Brodie prattles on about everything from skin care to her admiration for the organisational abilities of Mussolini. This doesn’t sit well with the powers that be at the Marcia Blaine School for Girls, who have noticed that the ‘Brodie set’ are well-informed generally but largely useless academically. And being the 1930s, her opinion of continental dictators and her entanglement with the singing master incur even more disapproval. But it is Miss Brodie herself who inadvertently engineers her downfall, when she attempts to use one of her old girls as a proxy to achieve what she cannot. Only then does the headmistress finally persuade one of Miss Brodie’s girls to betray her.
Jean Brodie, with her name-dropping and peculiar obsessions, is a memorable character, but I can’t say the same for most of the others. It’s been less than a fortnight since I read it (I’m quite backlogged), but even though they were enjoyable at the time many of them are blurring in my memory and I can’t even remember all their names. But then, there wasn’t much time to get to know them; it’s a very short book that I read in a single day. It felt short, too; there was quite a bit of repetition so the actual content was really even less than its one hundred and something pages. (Even the review is short; I find myself uncharacteristically lost for book-related words.) There was a bit of a mystery surrounding the identity of the girl who betrayed her which kept me turning the pages, but when it was revealed it wasn’t overmuch of a surprise. The biggest question, for me, was whether eleven- and twelve-year-old girls would be as preoccupied with sex as the Brodie set were. Then I remembered certain girls I went to primary school with and realised that yes, they would.