aiding and abet

Aiding and Abetting (novel)

Aiding and Abetting, is a novel by Muriel Spark.

One of her final works, it was published in 2000, six years before her death. Unlike her others, it is based partly on a documented occurrence; however, as the author states in a note, she has taken liberties with the facts.

Plot summary

The central figure, Hildegarde Wolf, is a fraudulent psychiatrist, née Beate Pappenheim, working in Paris. She has two patients, each of whom claims to be Lord Lucan, an English earl who, in an actual event in London in 1974, killed his daughter's nanny, mistaking her for his wife, whom he did intend to murder. From this premise, the novel proceeds to present successively greater coincidences and improbabilities, for the sake of dizzying, sometimes paradoxically bewildering, hilarity. In comic Christian spirit, the evils committed by Wolf, the real and false Lord Lucans, and secondary characters result in disconcerting reconciliations and final happiness.

The late chapters in Africa recall the comical episodes in A Handful of Dust (1934) by Spark's model and sometime mentor Evelyn Waugh.

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