Memento Mori by Muriel Spark

Memento Mori by Muriel Spark
Published by New Directions Books (2000 edition)

In 1950’s London a group of elderly friends suddenly begins receiving strange phone calls – a voice says, “Remember you must die” and promptly hangs up. These calls soon have these people examining their own, and others’, mortality, and it also spurns secrets and lies coming to the surface.

Memento Mori, for me, was … interesting. Upon finishing it, I had this feeling like I was missing something. Like it’s an incredibly profound piece of literature and I couldn’t quite get why. I feel that there are a ton of metaphors and poignant things being said in this book but I maybe missed some of them. Like I’m not quite smart enough to understand.

However, the book did make me think. I don’t think I’ve read another book told from the point of view of the elderly. There is a woman here who lives in a nursing home, a woman who cared for a dying person, another one with dementia, and to be honest I don’t give a lot of thought to what it must be like to be an older person in our society. The book definitely made me think about that.

I don’t know, I think I need to take more time to digest this one before I can really decide how I feel about the experience of reading it and what it really means. Again, I get that this is an important work of fiction and I saw many interesting themes throughout the novel, but overall I think I missed a lot too. Maybe I should read it again?

Have you read Memento Mori? Or anything else by Muriel Spark? This is my first time experiencing her work so I’m curious to know what you guys think.


5 thoughts on “Memento Mori by Muriel Spark”

  1. I’ve not read anything written by her. Have you tried looking at other reviews online? Sometimes that helps me if I feel like I’m not getting something. One book that really gives an excellent perspective of the elderly is Emily, Alone by Stewart O’ Nan. It is a gentle book, without much action, but it is completely told in first person by Emily.

  2. I hadn’t heard of this book, and think that it does sound like there is a lot just under the surface with this one. I don’t think that you weren’t smart enough to get it, but rather that the messages may have not been delivered in a straightforward manner. I take care of a few elderly friends at times, so I do tend to think of their plights, and I think it would be interesting to see what this book has to say on that front. I also have never read anything by the author. It seems like I need to check this one out. Great review today!

  3. uh-oh. I’m just now reading it because it’s our Faith and Fiction book this month, but I”m not far enough along yet. I hope I’ll have something to say about it!

  4. I haven’t read any of Muriel Spark’s books yet but have The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie on my wishlist. This is the first I’ve heard of Memento Mori. You’ve piqued my interest in this book. It was written many years ago so maynbe that accounts for why you feel something’s missing. I definitely do not think you aren’t smart enough to grasp the author’s meaning. It’s an interesting but kind of odd premise! It’s also possible the book missed the mark.
    I’m really interested in reading this book now :o)

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