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Summary

A barrister, a "priest," a detective, a lovelorn Irishman, a handwriting expert, a heinous spiritual medium...the very British bachelors of Muriel Spark's supreme 1960 novel come in every stripe.

First found contentedly chatting in their London clubs and shopping at Fortnum's, the cozy bachelors are not set to stay cozy for long. Soon enough, the men are variously tormented - defrauded, stolen from, blackmailed, or pressed to attend horrid séances - and then plunged, all together, into the nastiest of lawsuits. At the center of that suit hovers pale, blank Patrick Seton, the medium.

Meanwhile, horrors of every size plague the poor bachelors - from epileptic fits to forgeries, spiritualists foaming with protoplasm, and murder - and each horror delights, lit up by Spark's uncanny wit, at once malicious, funny, and deadly serious.

©1960 Muriel Spark (P)1999 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic reviews

"Completely, searingly original." ( The Independent)
"One of the most decisive and unmistakable voices in contemporary fiction....Spark concocts a present-tense deadpan that is at once lyrical, extravagant, and gruesomely funny." ( The New Yorker)
"Incomparable reader May's gentle British accent perfectly animates The Bachelors, a novel of sophisticated wit." ( Booklist)

What listeners say about The Bachelors

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Wearisome and Ridiculous

Something wearisome after a while about the nastiness, the positively vindictive scorn, of Spark's vision: and revisiting her work after many years is the overall texture of her work. Maybe when I was younger I was more influenced by the feeling that I should like an author. Now, I see, that yes, Spark can write, but her plots are thin, the people and situations repetitive.
There is an extraordinary lack of any hint of tenderness, humanity, or compassion in any character or indeed an individual. , Even a savage satirist like Evelyn Waugh possessed these things and enriched characters by this as people are a mix.

Her slant on the world is so relentlessly contemptuous that after a while it is as predictable as the sort of mushy sentimentality she probably despised. As in the other books I have revisited there is always an arrogant egotist behind the manipulation of her puppet-like characters.

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I loved it

This was my fourth of fifth Muriel Spark audiobook, and this was as good as the others.

The stories are so straightforward and engrossing you can easily imagine them, and this one, as superior TV dramas.

You feel a bit of an eavesdropper nosey parker getting so interested in these characters’ lives and where the author decides to take them.

Very entertaining light listening.

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BRIGHT SPARK

My third MS in a row. Undoubtedly a very superior author and the narration does it justice. I was appalled at the treatment of epilepsy but that’s how it was. Some quite modern themes. Re reading her after forty years I still appreciate her wit but also find it crueller than before. Obviously some political incorrectness too.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • connie
  • 22-04-09

philosophical black comedy

- expressed through description of actions and morality of mostly male singles in late 50s urban British setting. This novel is mostly dialogue and so reads like a play. Even though most of the characters are male, Nadia May seems a fitting narrator for the overall (and often ironic) tone of the book.

Similar to the more contemporary Ian McEwan's "Amsterdam," this is a reflection on responsibility, deception, and self-deception (individual and group). It's far from a light comedy, though there are laughs.

5 people found this helpful

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  • M. J. Walsh
  • 17-06-20

Rewards patience

An uneven, sometimes puzzling book, that starts slowly but rewards patience. Set in London in the 1950s, it tells an interlocking story about a group of bachelor men living in genteel bedsitters and the entanglement of some of them with the world of fly-by-night spiritualism.

Outwardly the book is black comedy in a minor key and it becomes very amusing once the characters blossom. There are moments early on when tedium threatens, but later there is much to enjoy. It may be that the narrative is also attempting some kind of biblical allegory but, if so, it is far from clear.

A fine reading of another unusual novel from Spark.

4 people found this helpful

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  • MClassics
  • 13-05-18

Good suspenseful telling of a crime and trial.

Loved Nadia May's telling. She manages to cross all social classes, occupations, sexes, to provide an all knowing, ironic delivery, as if Muriel Spark herself was telling the tale.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Frances
  • 16-11-14

A perfect reading

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, I'd recommend it to someone who likes stylish funny unsentimental British fiction. The meticulously rendered seedy London mid-twentieth century setting and the many diverse characters make it a joy to listen to.

What did you like best about this story?

The characters, and the way they were portrayed by the narrator. Some are sympathetic, most are funny, at least one is really quite awful!

Have you listened to any of Nadia May’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I've listened to several others. They're always good, including this one.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, it was hard to put it aside.

Any additional comments?

Highly recommended!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-05-21

Wonderful

A somewhat different but very entertaining story and as always, read perfectly by Nadia May!

1 person found this helpful

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  • MaryAnn
  • 12-04-17

Captivating plot

I felt as though I was living in London in the 1940's. This author should get much more attention than she does Currently.

1 person found this helpful

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  • R. Klein
  • 11-08-21

Maybe I missed something...?

The book didn't live up to the reviews for me. I had a tough time recognizing which character was which, mostly because they didn't hold my interest. The book is mostly dialog, and there were times I wondered if I'd missed a chapter because suddenly the scene was completely changed.

Who's speaking now!? What are they talking about? Whose side are they on?

I've listened to a few other of Spark's books. Sometimes it took a while for the story to really come into focus for me. I enjoyed the others more than I did this one. Just didn't much hold my interest. But I held out until the bitter end. Still didn't really care much about any of the characters, or capture the inner relevance of the events.

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  • John H. Crater
  • 10-02-21

One of the very best novels

Wow. If only you could find a novel like this every day. If only everybody read a book as well as Nadia May! The characters are just great, the plot flies long, it’s that kind of humor that runs along steadily just below the level of laughing out loud.