SPOILER ALERT!

The Driver's Seat

The Driver's Seat (New Directions Bibelot) - Muriel Spark

What kind of person would go ballistic on finding out that the dress she was looking to buy is made of a fabric that does not stain?

 

Anyone? Anyone?

 

Nope, I don't know anyone to do something like this either but guessing from the way the story of The Driver's Seat develops, Lise is not like most people - Lise is having a breakdown.

 

I say I'm guessing this from the way the story unfolds. This is because the story is not told from Lise's perspective. The narration does not delve into an exploration of Lise's mind. All we get to know is what Lise does and that she will die, but not what she thinks.

 

Therefore, we are faced with the task of deducing her mindset, her character, from her actions. Guessing just as much why Lise objects to a stain-proof dress, why she walks out of her job after 16 years, why she goes on a trip, and why she makes up a net of lies and personas in the course of her adventure. Or should this be mis-adventure?

 

This is a short but utterly compelling read.  It's darkness reminded me of Shirley Jackson's stories, but Sparks succeeds where Jackson failed -  The Driver's Seat made me gasp, it made me sit on the edge of my seat, ignoring the ringing of my phone.