Loitering with Intent (1981)

by Muriel Spark

As is typical of a novel by Muriel Spark, Loitering with Intent is bizarre, with eccentric characters and an unusual plot.

Writing in the first person, Fleur Talbot looks back on 1949–50 London when she was an aspiring novelist (as was Muriel Spark). Living in a small bedsit and financially strapped, Fleur took a job as secretary to the Autobiographical Association, a group of people invited by the director, Sir Quentin Oliver, to write about their lives. Fleur discovered a nefarious intent behind Sir Quentin’s enterprise. More surprisingly, the characters and events in the autobiographies started to mirror those in the novel she was writing.

Along with the resolution of the plot, readers are treated to a master novelist’s thoughts on her craft. Loitering with Intent is essentially a book about writing, replete with insights into the process and a writer’s mind. Where do ideas come from? Where is the line between fact and fiction? And so on.

Loitering with Intent was short-listed for the Booker Prize and is a favorite of Muriel Spark fans.


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