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Summary

Lise is thin, neither good-looking nor bad-looking. One day she walks out of her office, acquires a gaudy new outfit, adopts a girlier tone of voice, and heads to the airport to fly south. On the plane, she takes a seat between two men. One is delighted with her company, the other is deeply perturbed. So begins an unnerving journey into the darker recesses of human nature.

Read by Dame Judi Dench, rediscover this shocking masterpiece in audiobook on the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark's birth.

©1970 Muriel Spark (P)1996 Canongate Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"An extraordinary tour de force, a crime story turned inside out." (David Lodge)
"Her spiny and treacherous masterpiece."( The New Yorker)

What listeners say about The Driver's Seat

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Elegant and creepy

Simply sublime. Beautifully read and suitably cold-hearted.Good length for a singlr listen. Bracing and gripping as a thriller.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Bad audio

Even if the story is narrated by Judi Dench, the audio is a problem. The quality of the recording is bad. You can constantly hear background noise. The story was just ok. It deserve a read / listen for the end, which is one of the most disturbing things I've read.

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good story, fantastic narration, bad production

I very much enjoyed the story, and the narration by Dame Judi Dench is as excellent as I expected (she can do no wrong, as far as I'm concerned), but there's a constant background noise of people talking, which is extremely distracting. I guess the soundproofing in the studio was not up to scratch, but it's really spoiled an otherwise great audiobook for me.

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Terrible

I couldn't relate to any of it. The characters or the story. The only part of it I did enjoy was the narration; Dame Judy doing a wonderful job of a very poor novel.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Judi Dench Makes This Experience!

Any additional comments?

I thought the book a bit light on everything. By the time it ended, I would have helped see off the central character! I love Judi's reading!

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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oldie but a goodie

Would you consider the audio edition of The Driver's Seat to be better than the print version?

My guess is that the comparison would be favourable. The events are related almost as if they were solely from the protagonist's point of view so the terrible, angst driven woman's mind is well portrayed by a single voice.

What other book might you compare The Driver's Seat to, and why?

There was a well of similar toned books in that era from McEwan's "The Cement Garden" and "The Kindness of Strangers" to most of Patricia Highsmith's demented characters..

Have you listened to any of Judi Dench’s other performances? How does this one compare?

A polished and accomplished actor with a huge wealth of experience. Her rendition is marvellous although it might be worth hunting up Elizabeth Taylor's version on film. One can imagine she would give Dench a real run for her money in regards to representing a highly strung, psychotic female.

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

If it were possible, yes. The novella is quite short which is almost a good thing. The terrible anguish of the main character is palpable and her unmitigated misery is hard to bear. The sense of impending doom is wonderfully evoked by Spark without the excess many modern writers succumb to. Less is more in this case.

Any additional comments?

Although some might find this novella dated, essentially it remains a milestone in restrained and evocative writing.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Not a satisfactory listen

There was an echo in the background - slight,, but there and intermittent. Tried to return it but informed not eligible so struggled to end of narration. Not a satisfactory listen.

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excellent!

magnificient reading, very good story, highly recommended, one of those that will stay with me and that l will come back to

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This was not the book for me.

This was my first Muriel Spark book and I doubt I will read another. Dispite Dame Judy's narration I didn't get into the story at all. I didn't understand it or have any character to sympathise with even at a basic level. I didn't enjoy it, but it may be other people's cup of tea.

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Boring

I did not like this book. I found it totally boring. The main character is not likeable. She is rude and stroppy in general. I didn't care what happened to her.
The whole story was dull and boring and nothing really happened. The ending was disappointing.
Judi Dench read it well but that was all.

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  • Erez
  • 17-07-11

Masterfully written and read

First of all, a technical note: an earlier reviewer claims that the sound quality is very bad, and that the audiobook only contains 4 of the 7 chapters. If there was any problem with the audio, it's fixed now, and the quality is just fine. As for the number of chapters: yes, the audiobook is divided into 4 sections, but they have no relation to the chapters. Rest assured that no word from the original book is missing.

Now on to the book itself: Muriel Spark was a master of describing distressed, borderline psychotic people, and she does it very well here too. Personally, the only thing that bothered me was that the shock value of the book seems to have diminished somewhat in the forty years since it was written. Other than that, the book is excellent, and the narration is top notch.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • h and l
  • 02-05-11

strange tale by a great writer

i read this book years ago and wasn't sure i would still like it. i did. it is dark, intense, believable, and brief. the reading by judi dench is wonderful as always, but the recording is old, probably taken off old cassettes or something! for me, it didn't interrupt the pleasure. i wish audibles would get much more muriel spark, especially her great novels like the prime of miss jean brodie, girls of slender means, memento mori. not to mention the short stories. come on, audibles, dig up some more old recordings and make them available for this great price! at least one listener will be grateful.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Nouette
  • 24-11-10

Unhappy with this product

I must say I'm very unhappy with this product for two main reasons:
1) There are only 4 chapters / 7 available in this record
2) The sound is really bad and a sort of echo can be heard throughout those chapters

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrea
  • 01-02-12

what a pleasure to hear Judi Dench's voice!!!

Would you listen to The Driver's Seat again? Why?

maybe, just for the pleasure of JD's voice or to try to squeeze some sense from the story.

Would you be willing to try another book from Muriel Spark? Why or why not?

I already read Memento Mori and bought another one, so yes I would.

What does Judi Dench bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Her voice is clear and so warm and fun.

If you could take any character from The Driver's Seat out to dinner, who would it be and why?

I did not like any of them so I wouldn't take anyone to dinner