Read Aiding and Abetting by Muriel Spark Online


First, a bit of history: The seventh Earl of Lucan disappeared on November 7, 1974, leaving behind the battered body of his children's nanny and a beaten wife. Widely covered in the press, his sensational story has had a surprisingly long half-life, and the speculation about his whereabouts has never quite died out. In this book, Muriel Spark toys with several provocativeFirst, a bit of history: The seventh Earl of Lucan disappeared on November 7, 1974, leaving behind the battered body of his children's nanny and a beaten wife. Widely covered in the press, his sensational story has had a surprisingly long half-life, and the speculation about his whereabouts has never quite died out. In this book, Muriel Spark toys with several provocative issues arising out of the case: identity, class, blood ("it is not purifying, it is sticky"), and the dynamics of psychiatry ("most of the money wasted on psychoanalysis goes on time spent unraveling the lies of the patient"). Aiding and Abetting opens sometime late in the 20th century, when an Englishman in his 60s walks into the Paris practice of famed Bavarian psychiatrist Dr Hildegard Wolf and announces that he is the missing Lord Lucan. Yet Hildegrad is already treating one self-confessed Lord Lucan. And what's more, both patients seem to have dirt on her--for isn't she really Beate Pappenheim, a notorious fraud who used her menstrual blood to fake her stigmata? Fearing for her safety, Hildegard flees to London, where her path inevitably crosses that of two British Lucan hunters. Aiding and Abetting contains more than its share of broad farce and bitter irony. But it remains a strange, slight affair, its unspoken tenet being that the Lucan case still preys on the communal mind of the British public, its details (like the perpetrator's penchant for smoked salmon and lamb chops) indelibly printed there. For anyone under 30, that's a difficult argument to swallow. As one wise character puts it: "Few people today would take Lucan and his pretensions seriously, as they rather tended to do in the 70s." Times have changed indeed--and perhaps that's Spark's point after all, that the "psychological paralysis" of the not-quite-swinging '70s is long gone. --Alan Stewart...

Title : Aiding and Abetting
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780670894284
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 181 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Aiding and Abetting Reviews

  • Dhanaraj Rajan
    2019-02-20 02:58

    One of the Spark's books which is not that Sparkian. And so, I was bit disappointed.It was racy and at times witty. Yet, something was missing.The climax was a let down. Or at least, that was my feel. Spark was capable of producing a better one or executing the present climax in a livelier way. spark must have been in a hurry to finish the work.I look for Catholic/Christian themes and discussions in every Spark book. I think, this book had such themes in a suggestive manner. And they could very well elude a reader. Spark is usually vocal in her views. I love such views. And so, Spark - the subtle artist was, for me, a shock and disappointment. The suggestive meanings are: 1. "The wages of sin is death - a sinner unless he/she repents cannot expect his/her redemption." (the case of Lord Lucan) 2. When there is true faith, God can work miracles even through frauds. (the case of fraudulent stigmatic - Beate Pappenheim).

  • Danielle
    2019-01-27 00:30

    When I saw this book in the library, I had the vague notion that Muriel Spark was one of the names on those "Authors You Should Know" lists, and thus I should probably read something by her. After having finished this book, my feeling is that the name "Muriel Spark" is appealing in and of itself, and that's probably why I remembered it. I was not impressed with her.I should clarify that the book was fine. I mean, I read the whole thing, and it was fine. If you like light-hearted mysteries, you'd probably like this. For me, it just never got there.This book is based on a real-life crime. An English earl, Lord Lucan, killed his children's nanny by mistake, intending to kill his wife. Then he disappeared. This was in the late 70s. Apparently it was a huge deal, with much speculation about his whereabouts. So, Spark creates a story based on what might have happened after his disappearance. The premise sounds fine, I guess, but it just dilly-dallied with silly subplots and unconvincing characters. In fact, the character that seemed the most real to me was the very minor Jean-Pierre, "life partner" (because apparently "boyfriend" isn't cosmopolitan enough) of the murderer's psychologist, Hildegard Wolf. Anyway, some specific complaints: 1. The dialogue, the characters and much of the plot felt tired. The originality needed to make this a good book was missing. 2. I have no idea why Spark felt compelled to reiterate the circumstances of the original crime 16,000 times. Once would have been enough, but every time a new character came on the scene, and sometimes just for the heck of it, she would remind us of how Lucan had bludgeoned the nanny as she came down the stairs, thinking it was his wife, etc. etc. Why, oh why, do authors think they can't trust their readers? 3. Lacy and the old guy hooking up? Not only gross, but predictable. And stupid. 4. The ending. Oh my goodness, did she think that was clever? If you ever read this book (don't) but if you do, give me a comment so we can discuss how ridiculous that was. 5. I don't know that I can really blame the author for this one...I think it was the use of titles and English aristocracy, and (repeated) reference to "the false stigmatic of Nuremberg" that gave this book a distinct flavor of the past. Actually, it was set in the late 90s, but it was so easy to forget this that when the ocassional laptop or commercial jet popped up, it felt like an anachronism. Like I said, though, that was probably just me.Phew! This book was really not significant enough for me to have said so much about it, but there you are.

  • Marc
    2019-01-28 00:49

    This is only the second Muriel Spark book I've read, but I find her writing delightful. Her sense of humor shines darkly. This one starts off with a psychiatrist who first makes her patients listen to her story. And the subtle layering and duplicity of her characters... (sigh)...Without giving too much away, the story revolves around the true story of an earl who disappears after committing murder and attempted murder (he was aiming for his wife, mistook the nanny for her, then didn't have time to finish off his original target). Decades later he shows up at the shrink's office. Except she already has another patient claiming to be him! A fine web of deception--made possible by numerous aiders and abetters--ensues with the past quickly catching up to tangle the present.

  • Sketchbook
    2019-01-24 06:38

    Muriel's dizzy POV on the real-life murder of a nanny by UKs Lord Lucan, who intended to kill his wife. Spark backs herself into a corner and doesn't know how to get out. The result is some Waughish cannibalism. It serves Lucan (or his double) right for having a Good Time.

  • David
    2019-01-30 06:59

    Delightfully wicked humor: classic Spark. Fictional literary treatment of two legendary criminals, a fraud and a murderer, who really existed and somehow disappeared.

  • Larissa
    2019-01-30 06:38

    I'm planning a trip to Scotland in the not-so-distant future and so I thought it would be a good time to familiarize myself with the work of Muriel Spark. I gather from the little I've read about Ms. Spark thus far that Aiding and Abetting is not one of her more “important” works, but as a slim volume of truly imaginative, satirical, and irreverent fun, I think it really holds up. For a work of less than 200 pages, there's just an incredible amount of plot—three equally creative and crazily spiraling plot lines all together—but somehow she makes it work. There are books in which “nothing happens” and yet everything happens. This, I would say, is a book that demonstrates the opposite principal. There's a lot going on, and yet, very little has come to anything at the end of the novel. Aiding and Abetting takes a historically factual murder case as its (loose) premise. In 1974, the 7th Earl of Lucan (nicknamed Lucky), an inveterate and generally unsuccessful gambler, decided to murder his wife. Instead, he accidentally murdered his children's nanny and only injured his wife. He went into hiding the same night, and was never found by the police. It's generally assumed that he was able to evade capture because he had the help of a network of other titled friends in England, who for various reasons, elected to help him escape rather than turn him in for his crime. From here, Spark “absorbed creatively” and “metamorphosed” Lord Lucan's story, blending it with a parallel tale of Hildegard Wolf, a famed German psychiatrist whose unorthodox method of spending most of her clients' very expensive sessions talking about herself has gained her a high level of prestige in Paris, where she now lives. Dr. Wolf has a secret of her own, however: as an impoverished student in Germany, she infamously defrauded faithful Catholics all over Europe by posing as a stigmatic. When she was exposed, Dr. Wolf (then “Blessed Beate Pappenheim, the Stigmatic of Munich”), escaped the country, went into hiding, and completely reinvented herself as a successful, but actually uncertified psychiatrist.The story begins as Dr. Wolf is introduced to not one, but two, Lord Lucans, both of whom want to employ her as their psychiatrist, and both of whom attempt to blackmail her on the basis of her background as a false saint. Spark adds one last thread to the increasingly complicated—but not difficult to follow—plot: the daughter of one of Lucan's former friends and one of his former gambling partners are both engaged in an impromptu manhunt for Lucan, who they are certain is still alive. I gobbled the story down easily over the course of a rainy weekend (the would-be hurricane Irene); the novel is broken down into 19, short, segmented chapters which each follow one or two of the running storylines. It's made for fast reading. And while the psychology employed throughout the book is not particularly deep or convincing, there is a delightful, whimsical absurdity that forgives any false analysis that Spark might throw in. It's all very much kept at the level of farce. Consider the reaction of Jean-Pierre, Hildegard's companion of five years, when she finally reveals her past to him: “Why...did you not tell me before about your exciting early life as a stigmatic?”The novel is not without more complex themes, of course. Overall, it could be argued to be a book about self-created myths, about the false personas that everyone creates to hide either their real selves, or the selves they no longer choose to be. We are who we choose to say we are; we are the product of the stories we tell about ourselves. And there's always some truth in those stories. Hildegard, for instance, continues to insist—even while on the run, fearing exposure from her blackmailers—that “I caused miracles. I really did cure some people. Strangely enough I did.” The story that she told about herself—that she was a blessed stigmatic—may have been untrue, but it was real enough to feel like a genuine miracle to the people who believed in her. The one element of the novel that I felt a bit ill at ease with was the final sequence {SPOILER WARNING} wherein one of Hildegard's patients, a grandson of a chief in central Africa, arranges for both Lucans to be invited to Africa (therefore out of Hildegard's hair), only for one of the men to be eaten by cannibals. Now, don't get me wrong: I think the level of absurdity in this crazy ending is just pitch perfect, and on a narrative level, I'm actually all for the cannibals. Unfortunately, for a book published in 2001 and set in the 1990s, this turn of plot (and the various scenes of dialog leading up to it) has a rather anachronistic, Olde Worlde colonialism about it. The chief is referred to as “a wily fellow” who later decides that his grandsons “would benefit by consuming an earl.” In the best case scenario, this seems a reductive portrait of an African chief; in the worse, it's simply ethnocentric and racist. It doesn't help that a Mexican character earlier in the book is referred to as a “sage brown fellow.” It's possible in both cases that Spark is affecting the prejudices of her emphatically stupid and dull Lord, but I'm not sure these scenes can be attributed to character flaws—it's a little too implicit in the narrative itself. For sheer imagination, flowing plot, and a dark sense of humor, though, the book is rather stellar. I look forward to reading more of Spark's work in the future.

  • Courtney H.
    2019-01-25 01:40

    If I had reviewed this book right away, I probably would have given it four stars. It was concise, well written novel with a fascinating premise. Spark took two late-twentieth century legends -- the scandal surrounding the disappearance of Lord Lucan after he murdered his children's nanny and attempted to murder his wife; and a fake stigmata -- and wove them together in a bizarre dark comedy mystery novel, set 25 years after Lucan's disappearance. It lost a star because it proved to be surprisingly forgettable. I read it a month ago and had I not left it out to remind myself to review it, I likely never would have thought about it again.And perhaps that is OK. Perhaps it did what it set out to do. It tackled a famous and scandalous unsolved mysteries, took a few well aimed shots at the British aristocracy in the process, was well plotted, a bit ludicrous and droll, and added in the bizarre history of her Hildegard Wolf in the process. The concept is simple and unravels creatively but without self-aggrandizement, which I appreciated. So many dark comedies seem desperate for readers to recognize how clever the author is, and Spark did not do that. She just told her story: of Wolf, a famous psychiatrist, who is suddenly faced with two patients, each claiming to be Lord Lucan. The mystery is which is the real Lord Lucan; and then a secondary twist comes when it turns out that Wolf is not who she claims to be, either. She was in hiding after being discovered as a fraudulent stigmata in her college years. The novel tackles the complexities of identity, morality in shades of gray, what can be forgiven of those we decide to protect--and it does so with deft words and no look-at-me writing; and with no lecturing. It is fanciful and outrageous and then the story is over and Spark goes home without any fanfare; good for her. The ending itself would be pitch perfect, if somewhat predictable, if not for a nasty smell of racism. Its comedy is based on some antiquated notion of Africa as the "Dark Continent," and it really left a sour taste in my mouth at the end of a book that had been, until then, a fast and enjoyable read. Spark could have come up with an ending that achieved the same result without being weirdly racist, and I wish she had done that. So--it probably is a solid 3.5. Go into it knowing it is enjoyable but not life-changing, and it hopefully will be worth the read, particularly because it is a quick one.

  • Tony
    2019-02-17 06:33

    Spark, Muriel. AIDING AND ABETTING. (2001). *****. I’m a rabid Spark fan, so I don’t know how I missed this one – but I did. It is a short novel that embodies all of Dame Spark’s greatest qualities: subtle humor, attention to plot movement, and, most of all, characterization. She has done a take-off on a true crime that occurred in England in the 1970s, where Lord Lucan accidentally murdered his childrens’ nanny while actually trying to kill his wife. He subsequently disappeared from England, probably with the help of his other titled friends, but was tried and convicted in absentia of the killing. His wife was subsequently battered after he discovered that he had killed the wrong woman. She survived the beating. Dame Spark takes on the disappearance at a point twenty-five years after the event, when Lucan shows up at the office of a celebrated psychiatrist in London, who, in a former life, was really Beate Pappenheim, a fake Bavarian stigmatic who managed to bilk thousands of people out of their money before fleeing to Paris to take on her new role in life under a different name. Lucan has found out about her past and plans to use that knowledge to gain money from her. He is desperate. His old titled friends are dying off, putting an end to the pipeline of monetary assistance he has come to depend on. Then comes the twist. Another man – who looks very much like the original Lucan – appears on the scene in the psychiatrists office and claims that he is the real Lucan. He calls himself Walker, and he, too, knows of Pappenheim’s past. Our psychiatrist is thrown into a tizzie. Which one is the real Lucan? How will she avoid having to provide one or both of them with money since they both know her secrets? The tale becomes one of a war of wits, played against the old aristocratic regime of hereditary titleists of the old England. Highly recommended.

  • Jayme
    2019-01-31 03:40

    I read this book with a group of friends, and we agreed that it was entertaining and well written. It only gets three stars, though, because it's largely forgettable. It raises some interesting questions in terms of characters' motivations, as well as some moral questions for the reader. Overall, I'd say this is a diverting read but not terribly deep. In addition, I found the ending problematic, but can separate the last 10 pages from the book as a whole.Also, I confess that as the daughter and sister of psychiatrists, I found the portrayal of the profession distraction. The main character engages in behavior that would probably be classed as unethical by most medical boards. While I understand Spark's desire to use the role of psychiatrist as a convenient literary device by which to get inside a variety of people's heads, this is a trope getting old, and I found her execution of it disappointing.

  • Jinky
    2019-02-20 22:31

    (3.5)I'm not sure what it is about based on true story books that captures my interest. This one certainly pushed my curiosity button. Nothing like murder and on the run to get the ball rolling ... by the 7th Earl of Lucan no less! His unsolved mysterious disappearance made for the perfect base for imaginative minds to explore and so it was for Ms Spark, I assume. And what a tale! I found this to be quite entertaining and odd take. The mind games was definitely present. I especially enjoyed all the characters. They were zany and so it made for a fun read. Overall, leaving me to say, "That was strangely intriguing."This makes me wonder to what extent that I would aid and abet a friend ... hmm.A different read for sure so give it a shot. It's a short book. :)Jinky is Reading

  • Christopher
    2019-01-22 04:39

    The two books I've read by Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Driver's Seat, were wonderfully tight and hard-hitting short novels. Even though this book is a slim 176 pages, it feels like a sprawling, unfocused tale that can't decide what it's trying to say. No one ever talks about Spark's later work (this is her second to last published book, from 2000), and this may be why.

  • Amy
    2019-02-16 23:50

    Given to me by my Jojosmommyo with the firm endorsement of "Meh". She went on to mention that Hazrabai has read it and hadn't thought that much of it, as well. Not Spark's best effort. I can only concur with my two wise sister-in-laws.Spark is usually a winner. Crisp, clean, funny, clever. The premise of this, particularly, is good, since it is based on the real life mystery of what the heck happened to the 7th Earl of Lucan (aka "Lucky" Lucan? Add in an imposter and a fake Bavarian stigmatic, and the mix should be funny and fascinating. Instead, it falls flat, almost rising to the occasion, but not quite. It's a small book, but it was a chore to get through. Felt like unwanted homework, that I hoped the dog would eat.

  • Daniel
    2019-02-16 06:56

    I did not care for this story. The characters are thin and the plot of moderate interest. Spark's prose is fabulous, and this sole strength kept me reading.This experience makes me anxious about Spark's other late-20C works. I loved "Bachelors," and I still think about it months after putting it up. Both this and "Driver," however, didn't do much for me. I hope that her work does not follow a downward trend with later publication dates.

  • Jonfaith
    2019-01-30 23:52

    If one wished, Aiding and Abetting could be regarded as a slight whimsy. The novel could also be regarded as parlor game for deception and dark humor. We meet three charatcrs, two of whom are frauds and the third a muderer, albeit an aristocrat. This situation is pondered and then two other characters are inroduced with a shared purpose of locating the murderer. A tissue of circumstances unfold and the novel ends.

  • Rosie
    2019-02-07 04:52

    Crisp, wickedly morbid prose. Why isn't Spark recognized as a great novelist? A bookseller once asked me if I thought it was because she was a woman. An interesting thought. I am not sure. I only know that longer does not equal better and that Spark's slender volumes are delicious.

  • Hymerka
    2019-02-08 22:38

    Книжка, як то кажуть, на любителя, ще й переклад від пана з невимовним прізвищем не надто сподобався. Хоча й коротка, а знудила мене добряче.

  • Jeremy
    2019-02-18 04:49

    A delightful comic novella. Using an actual murder case as her jumping-off point, Muriel Spark posits what might have happened to the 7th Earl of Lucan after his disappearance in 1974. While she sticks to the historical record for details pre-1974, from the point of his disappearance on, it's all outrageous conjecture, in which an artisan who refurbishes antiques teams up with a false stigmatic-turned-psychiatrist, a physician from Africa, an old friend of the murderer and the daughter of one of those who helped the murder escape to track him down 25 years later. But wait, is there one murderer or two? Charming and very funny, despite its sad origin story.

  • George
    2019-01-24 04:36

    A very light, farcical novella, based on a true event. In 1974 in England, Lord Lucan murdered the nanny of his children and viciously attacked his wife. He then disappeared, never to be heard of again. Spark weaves a tale around Lord Lucan and his 'double' trying to blackmail a psychiatrist in Paris in the late 1990s. They have learned that the psychiatrist had committed fraud in Germany when she was younger. If you have not read any Muriel Spark novels, then firstly try The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie or Memento Mori. This book is for Muriel Spark completists like myself! A quick, fun read, but not a book I would reread.

  • Marie (UK)
    2019-01-30 23:39

    how might Lord Lucan have got away after murdering his nanny and attempting to murder his wife. Muriel Spark gives us one take on it . Her characters are huge and the storyline succinct. A great read

  • Emily
    2019-02-02 06:40

    it spins tightly, with the charming Spark cyclicality, and has some simply zinging observations. she knows how to pick a story but wasn’t as acrobatically inventive with her treatment of the mystery of Lord Lucan. still & all? a total master, & worth reading to get the full lay of her lands.

  • Chhavi
    2019-02-20 03:53

    so, yes, the satire, the humor, the dry observation of class defined social mores are certainly out in spades, and though the mystery that wasn't is rather amusing, I think this novella could've been even shorter! I found the repetitive parts really hamstrung the narrative flow. Still a fun read.

  • Aya*
    2019-01-24 05:32

    Perturbadoramente atrapante, un libro que te deja alarmado y se devora en un santiamén.

  • Karen Sofarin
    2019-01-29 04:57

    Short and to the point. Rather interesting despite the gore and disjointed style. Layers of secrets and lies are so often intriguing.

  • Abbi
    2019-01-26 01:51

    Brilliant - read this in a collection called Spark’s Satire with The Abbess of Crewe and Robinson. Masterful and really satisfying.

  • Inna
    2019-01-21 23:44

    Історія не сподобалася і не залишила після себе жодних позитивних вражень.

  • Susan Kosel
    2019-02-16 23:35


  • Jo Caryl
    2019-02-09 00:57

    A ripping yarnWhat an imagination Muriel Spark had. This book's a lot of fun... finally the truth about Lord Lucan! Did he get away?

  • yengyeng
    2019-02-09 06:53

    There's a pinch of Greene, a generous dash of Waugh, and a lot of Spark in this short novel. Highly entertaining.

  • Debbie Rix
    2019-02-10 05:31

    I found this short novel quite unputdownable. It was intriguing and mysterious - as if the author had some private hotline or secret insight into the life of Lord Lucan. I loved it.

  • Sindhu
    2019-01-30 05:40

    Aiding and Abetting is the story of a man on the run, for the last 25 years or so. Finding inspiration from the real life story of Richard John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan, Dame Muriel Spark weaves a psychological mystery. Lord Lucan, the Faustian hero comes to Dr. Hildegard Wolf, a well known psychiatrist in Paris and the novel begins. "I have come to consult you, because I have no peace of mind. Twenty-five years ago I sold my soul to the Devil." Lucan introduces himself. Why did he choose to reveal his true identity to Dr. Hildegard, when it is certain that if she informs the Interpol, he will be arrested for a murder and an attempted murder that he had committed years back? Who is the real and who is the fake, of the two Lucans who had approached her? Robert Walker or Lucky Lucan? Who is Beate Pappenheim and what has she got to do with Ms. Hildegard? Aiding and Abetting, a light mystery, is a tale of moral crisis. A tale that takes us deep down to the root of all evils. A tale of identity. Of who is who? It is easy to forget it. If you choose not to, you can contemplate an age and the circumstances that shaped the characters. Though a story of immense potential, Aiding and Abetting but falls short of expectations, in matters of plot. It is loose and the story doesn't fit well in it. One can argue out that it doesn't require a tight one for it never intends to be a thriller. The ending kind of challenges the readers. It is surreal and stereotypical at the same time. It takes them away from the realistic to the fantastic, making them feel the absurdity of the whole affair. Spark’s preoccupation with religion and beliefs manifests itself in it, in many ways. The imagery of the Lamb, the Blood and the Devil is all over the novel. There is Christianity, there is Voodoo Cult and there is the Stigmatic Beate and the Faustian Lucan. The novel is engaging but not exceptional. Definitely not Spark’s best. But that doesn't make you reject her altogether, if Aiding and Abetting is your first, for you have already witnessed glimpses of a genius.