Muriel Spark's witty novels have long been appreciated by critics. Yet previous studies have been synoptic, trying to cover the entire oeuvre of an immensely prolific novelist. By selecting novels representative of distinct phases in Spark's career, Rodney Stenning Edgecombe is able to explore theme, style, and structure in a detailed way. Spark's conversion to Catholicism is frequently cited as a source of her novelistic voice, the one vocation being seen to result from the other. Edgecombe takes up this issue, showing, through judicious close readings of the novels, how the idea of vocation - whether religious or secular - provides a recurring centre of interest and thematic unity for the poet-turned-novelist. He explores the nature of the voice that finds its outlet in what he calls the epigrammatic structure of Sparks's fiction. Edgecombe shows her best novels to be elegantly incomplete, heavy with implied meaning, and all the more moving for their emotional restraint. This structure of expanded epigram, he argues, is the hallmark of Spark's fiction and is essential to its success. From Spark's early period, which focuses on tight-knit British communities, Edgecombe selects ""The Bachelors"" and ""The Girls of Slender Means"", two novels that flank her most famous works and share their density and conciseness. Viewing ""The Mandelbaum Gate"" an expansive departure from that early phase, he examines it on its own, before turning to the ""exilic era"" of Spark's residence abroad. From this he selects ""The Abbess of Crewe"" and ""The Takeover"", each representing different aspects of a problematic phase in Spark's career.