Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 169
"Spinster" is a first novel of singular literary quality and impact. Told in impressionistic style, it often conveys the poetry and color of a special kind of experience from within the mind of a woman of sensibility. But, eventually, in depicting the mental and emotional frustration of this title character, it makes her so much a case-book spinster that she fails to hold our sympathy….
That it is possible to be simultaneously a vulnerable, childish, self-centered woman, an inspired teacher, and a dedicated artist is doubtless true in life, but it is extraordinarily difficult to present convincingly in fiction. In life an artist's character is judged in the light of his work, and this provides its own perspective. In fiction the author must provide the perspective, and if like Sylvia Ashton-Warner she does not do so, she runs a considerable risk.
Ruth Blackman, "Children and Conflicts," in The Christian Science Monitor (reprinted by permission from The Christian Science Monitor; © 1959 The Christian Science Publishing Society; all rights reserved), April 2, 1959, p. 7.