While I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, I was left more than a bit confused by the end of it. The characters were quite humorous and even disturbing at times with their scheming, blackmailing, hypocrisy, denials, and even their beliefs on the important matters in life which seemed so realistically self-centered that I could believe them to be real people in authentic circumstances. And yet, the amount of characters to keep track of was daunting in number as well as the numerous background stories and it was only by their ties to each other that I was able to grasp on to the plot-line behind it. Muriel Sparks successfully created a reality of her own with a web of wickedness that is so thoroughly layered in the span of nearly a century that I was left not necessarily unsatisfied but overjoyed that she left a question unanswered till the very end. Who was that mysterious caller? Many suggestions were given and yet I was aware that one shined out among the rest. For Inspector Mortimer says it quite clearly that “considering the evidence,” which is altogether vexing and baseless, “the offender is Death himself.” (p.144)
It didn’t really matter who specifically the caller was and underlying the great mystery was a spiritual resonance that forced the reader to grip the book wanting to shout at the characters to stop their nonsense and just take advantage of their last remaining years because death is waiting patiently to take them and they were ready to keep going with their secrets and their obsessions which like invisible merciless gods, ruled over them all their lives until Jean Taylor, the only morally sound character it seemed, decided to reveal Charmian’s own ongoing affair allowing progress for Godfrey to live a bit more passionately for just a short while longer. I had no qualms viewing the suspect as a spiritual entity because the last line of the book only validated this notion by referring to the quote at the...