After his wife's death, Hugh contemplates returning to his former mistress. His son, Randall, longs to abandon his shapeless marriage for a perfect partner. Randall's young daughter, Miranda, is adored by her Australian cousin Penn, but has attachments elsewhere. Her mother Ann has her own private dream, while taking upon herself the strains and pains of all the others. Impelled by affection, lust and illusion, these characters search for love within a tightly woven web.
Manipulating masterfully, Miss Murdoch turns out a deft three-in-one book: a sort of combined superior soap opera… a British novel of sensibility, and philosophical inquiry into reality
I suspect that when the intellectual map of our own times comes to be sketched out, Iris Murdoch will occupy a position analogous to Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky... Murdoch writes better than anyone about the condition of being love: both the ecstatic joys of it and its capacity to turn otherwise decent individuals into monsters of selfishness and cruelty... Her vision of the world is heart-rending, but ultimately celebratory
Our fifties may be the first time many of us start to really reflect on life, but it's a time to look forward, too. Here are some great books to spur us on.
Funny, subversive, fearless and fiercely intelligent, Iris Murdoch was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. To celebrate the centenary of her birth, here's our guide to help you pick which Murdoch book to read first – or last!