Delicious for its wit and poise, The Comforters (1957) was a stunning debut. With her now signature air of easy, sunny eeriness, Spark lights up the darkest things––blackmail, drownings, breakdowns, human evil. Caroline, "a most jumpy woman at the best of times"; the whiny converts; the loathsome busybody Georgina Hogg ("that gargoyle"); a diabolist bookseller; a ring of smugglers and the sublime, cunning grandmother who runs it: these are Spark's meat. She deals with them in her dazzling and rigorous fashion––and here, in her first novel, with so early and so satisfyingly complete a mastery.
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