Review: The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark

“Long ago in 1945 all the nice people in England were poor, allowing for exceptions.”It is 1945 and the end of war is in sight. Britain’s young people are having to refocus their aims for a world no longer at war. For the girls at The May of Teck Club (an establishment "for the Pecuniary Convenience and Social Protection of Ladies of Slender Means below the age of Thirty Years" in Kensington, London), the end of war will effect no significance change: they will go on, each seeking their own personal goals, be they a job in publishing, an inch off one’s waste, or – most popular a goal – a nice young man who could be considered marriage material.

Muriel Spark’s The Girls of Slender Means (1963) is a patchwork tale of the girls who live at The May of Teck Club as their independent stories stitch together to form a shared narrative of the Young Single Lady. We have Jane, who works in publishing and eats heavily to fuel her “brain work”, Joanna with her religious assuredness, Se…