Seventy-nine year old Dame Lettie Colson begins to receive anonymous phone calls from a man whose message is, "Remember, you must die." Soon, her octogenarian brother, her senile sister-in-law, and many of their tottery friends begin to receive similar phone messages.

The novel takes us through a year or so in the lives of this group of eccentric elderly upper-class Brits and a few of their not-so-privileged servants and caretakers. As they pursue the source of the "memento mori" message, we discover a complex matrix of infidelity and deception, ranging from youthful love affairs and harmless perversions to manipulation and blackmail. In the end, though, Death will not be denied.


This is an eminently readable dark comedy that reveals the fears and foibles of the very aged. Ms. Spark gives exceptional portraits of many of her aged protagonists; for example, Charmian Colson, the comically senile novelist; Percy Mannering, the poet, a perfectly realized Old Fart; and Mrs. Pettigrew, the vituperative companion who blackmails her employer. In these days when it is politically correct to take Old Age very seriously, Memento Mori reminds us how humorous the human condition can be.



Place Published

New York



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