Posted September 13th, 2012
it has been so long since I posted, that I couldn’t remember how to insert an image. I have recently finished this IM book. I hadn’t read it before. It had some truly wonderful Murdochian moments, one of them pictured on the cover of this book. There was a close drowning. The word ‘indubitably’ was not used once but the word ‘descry’ was used many times. I had to look it up. It means to catch sight of.
One of my favorite scenes took place in a drawing room, when one of the more mature male characters makes a lunge across the coffee table at a young female character, ripping her silk blouse off in the process. After a quick wrangle on the couch, the sound of footsteps in the hallway causes him to hide her in a closet where she stays until the visitor has left. The reader (this one, at any rate) is on the edge of one’s seat wondering of she was going to be discovered. This is not the first time IM has shut a woman up in a closet. Hmmm.
There is a gaggle of rich old ladies that appear throughout the novel, a couple of mysterious Polish brothers and a collection of precious jewels.
However, I was left a little cold by the characters. None of them were endearing. This is not unusual in her books, but I usually am at least fascinated and drawn to the main character, even if they are really awful like Charles Arrowby in “The Sea, The Sea”. I didn’t care either way for any of the characters here. I think Rainborough had the most potential, but he was kind of off to one side in the plot and was conveniently shunted off to the south of France when the $+!* hit the fan. I can’t remember the name of the main female character but she was such a selfish person and didn’t seem to care for any-one, not even her poor tortured brother.
I loved the description of the house in Italy (or Spain?) towards the end, it was an oasis of calm after the chaos of London.
The story was neatly tied up in a bow at the end, which was quite annoying because every-one had been in such a mess. We never found out what happened to the jewels.
One thumb sideways.
Posted August 2nd, 2011
I finished reading this book this morning. It was the first novel Iris Murdoch wrote and I had not read it before.
It had a freshness and lightness that isn’t in her later books. The protagonist was a male writer prone to laziness and impulse (and alcohol). There is no drowning! Although, a couple of times I thought there was going to be. I wanted to get out a map of London while I was reading it and follow the characters around. Paris played a small part, too.
It is very funny in places. I loved the scene with Sammy and Jake betting on the horses and getting drunk. There is a ridiculous dog-napping where Jake and Finn couldn’t get the dog out of the cage it was in and they decide to take the cage too….in a taxi. The word “indubitably” appears once about 3/4 of the way through. I always wait for that word in Iris’s books and very rarely wait in vain. I am pleased to know that it was a favorite of hers right from the start.
I liked all of the characters – normally I don’t really care for any of them.
Writing about it makes me want to pick it up and start all over again. A lovely read.
Posted September 29th, 2010
Just re-read this. Originally read when I was in my early 20′s. Didn’t remember a single thing about it.
It is a true Murdochian treat.
The many characters hook up, unhook and rehook with the same or a different character.
Peter Pan features as a panto and a statue.
London presents a mostly cold and dismal back-drop. There are warm and lushly furnished drawing rooms and perfumed women in mink coats and woolen dresses.
There are the usual odd meals – tongue and mashed with banana and cheese for pud.
There is much soul searching and mental anguish and a final physical battle and of course, near drowning…..but I don’t want to spoil it for you…
Posted June 21st, 2010
Just finished this book.
It was the last book she completed before succumbing to dementia.
I was rushing through the last few pages because she was going on a bit and then made myself slow down and appreciate the last words this great author wrote for us to read.
It is not my favorite but definitely had some rewarding Murdoch moments and there was the inevitable drowning.