The Public Image

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“All homage to Muriel Spark, the coolest writer ever to scald your liver and your lights” (The Washington Post). The Public Image, which the author has called “an ethical shocker,” provides a scalding the reader is unlikely to forget, particularly as it is so enjoyable. Spark chooses Rome, “the motherland of sensation,” for the setting of her story about movie star Annabel Christopher (known to her adoring fans as “The English Lady-Tiger”), who has made the fatal mistake of believing in her public image. This error and her embittered husband, and unsuccessful actor, catch up with her. Her final act is only the first shocking climax—further surprises await. Neatly savaging our celebrity culture, Spark rejoices in one of her favorite subjects—the clash between sham and genuine identity—and provides Annabel with an unexpected triumph.

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