It’s the start of the Edinburgh International Book Festival and if you’ve never read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie then there’s no better way to celebrate it than by picking up this most Edinburgh-ish of novels. If you have read it then you can do a lot worse than working your way through Spark’s other books, particularly The Girls of Slender Means and Momento Mori (plus her short stories which have just been published as a complete set for the first time).

If you liked The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie for its 1930s setting try: anything by Agatha Christie, A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh, Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford, The Dance to the Music of Time novel cycle by Anthony Powell
If you liked the school setting / coming of age try: Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain Fournier, Secret History by Donna Tartt, Good-bye Mr Chips by James Hilton
If you want other books with misbehaving teachers try: Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller, Rapture by Simon Lelic
If you want other modern classics that are short, sharp and brilliant try: Death in Venice by Thomas Mann, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway, The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
If you want other books set in Edinburgh try: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (it claims to be set in London but it really is Edinburgh), 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith, any of the Inspector Rebus books by Ian Rankin, The Edinburgh Dead by Brian Ruckley

And finally the massively tenuous off the wall suggestions*:

Travels with my Aunt
by Graham Greene
Room with a View by EM Forster
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne by Brian Moore
Death on the Nile or Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie

*how could we pick anything other than some of the brilliant books Maggie Smith’s starred in the adaptations of

Published in Blog

Lush Victorian crime with love and lesbian romps.

There are so many wonderful books you can move onto from this. Not least Sarah Waters’ other excellent novels – Tipping the Velvet or Affinity being the most obvious choices with their very different stories but similar Victorian settings. Or jump forward in history to The Night Watch (my personal favourite) which has just been beautifully adapted by the BBC, or try her most recent – The Little Stranger – which is currently in the top 100.

Or you can see what’s inspired Sarah by reading from her top 10

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories
Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr Ripley
Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
Donna Tartt, The Secret History
Anthony Powell, A Dance to the Music of Time
Olivia Manning, Fortunes of War
Muriel Spark, Memento Mori

If you liked Fingersmith because of the Victorian setting, strong heroines and dark underbelly and want something written at the time try: Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White; Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend; Charlotte Bronte, Wuthering Heights

If you liked Fingersmith because of the Victorian setting, strong heroines and dark underbelly and want something written recently try: Michel Faber, Crimson Petal and the White; AS Byatt, Possession

If you liked Fingersmith for the criminal elements try: Kate Summerscale, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher or The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime

If you’re interested in reading more contemporary female fiction try: Jeanette Winterson, Val McDermid (crime), Emma Donaghue or Stella Duffy

If you want to read other books that have been shortlisted for both the Man Booker and Orange prizes try: Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall; Emma Donaghue, Room; Ali Smith, The Accidental; Zadie Smith, On Beauty

And finally, our massively tenuous, completely off the wall suggestions*:
Instance of the Fingerpost, Iain Pears
Goldfinger, Ian Flemming
The Moving Finger, Agatha Christie
The Magic Finger, Roald Dahl

*obviously linked by the fact that they all contain the word finger in the title

Published in Blog

This one’s really tricky. It spans 20 years, it’s hilarious but also heartbreaking, it’s very fresh and contemporary but also feels classic, like it will stand the test of time.

Obviously you can start by reading other books by David Nicholls – Starter for Ten or The Understudy, but One Day is widely acknowledged to be his best book.

So David’s kindly told us what his top 10 books are. These are the books he loves, returns to, gives and cherishes. What better way of getting a little further into your favourite authors minds than by getting to know the books that they love? So you could start dipping into one of these...

Tender is the Night, F Scott Fitzgerald

Franny and Zooey, JD Salinger

Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy

Goodbye, Columbus, Philip Roth

Hitchcock, Francois Truffaut

The Girls of Slender Means, Muriel Spark

Hangover Square, Patrick Hamilton

Collected Stories, John Cheever

The Patrick Melrose Trilogy, Edward St Aubyn


But none of them are much like One Day, so if you really do want something comparable where should you go next?

If you liked One Day because of the humorous view of contemporary life (and it perhaps reminded you a little of your own) try: Nick Hornby: Juliet, Naked or High Fidelity or Matt Beaumont: Small World

If you liked One Day because you cried your eyes out at the end try: Audrey Niffeneger, The Time Traveller’s Wife

If you liked One Day because it’s funny (and you liked the 90s setting too) try: Christopher Brookmyre, Quite Ugly One Morning

If you liked One Day because it’s just one of those amazing books that affects you and stays with you try: Chris Cleave, The Other Hand

And finally, our massively tenuous, completely off the wall suggestions*:

The Devil Wear’s Prada, Lauren Weisberger
Brokeback Mountain, Annie Proulx
Hard Sell, Jamie Reidy
Nicholas Nickleby, Charles Dickens
The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Anything by Jane Austen!

 Next Friday: If you loved Fingersmith

*based on the fact that Anne Hathaway stars as Emma in the film of One Day and these are the other books she's been in adpatations of, we make a presumption that she liked and would recommend them all...

Published in Blog


Romantic, heroic, comic and tragic, unconventional schoolmistress Jean Brodie has become an iconic figure in post-war fiction. Her glamour, freethinking ideas and manipulative charm hold dangerous sway over her girls at the Marcia Blaine Academy – the ‘crème de la crème’ – who become the Brodie Set, introduced to a privileged world of adult games that they will never forget.

Join the discussion about The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Published in 2011

On World Book Night

Over the years no medium has so consistently provided me with as much understanding, enlightenment and all round enjoyment as books.  They're a window on the world and the human condition, at their best an inspiration.  That's why I'm delighted to be asked to help promote World Book Night.      

John Wagner

In your country

You are currently viewing the UK site. Change to...


Want to see World Book Night in your country?


The 2014 Books

The 2013 Books

The 2012 Books

The 2011 Books

The World Book Night Book Club

You are here: Home Displaying items by tag: Muriel Spark