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The Time of the Angels [Paperback]

Iris Murdoch

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Book Description

June 25 2002 Vintage Classics
In this haunting novel that 'troubles our sleep' (Richard Holloway) seven characters circle the enigmatic and callous figure of Carel, a 'priest of no God'.
Carel is rector of a City church in ruins, destroyed during the war. In the rectory lives his daughter, Muriel, his beautiful invalid ward, Elizabeth, and their West Indian servant, Patti. Here too are Eugene, a Russian emigre, and his delinquent son, Leo. Carel's brother, Marcus, co-guardian with him of Elizabeth, tires to make contact with Carel but is constantly rebuffed. 

These seven characters go through a dance of attraction and repulsion, misunderstanding and revelation, the centre of which is the enigmatic Carel himself -- a priest who believes that God is dead, and this is the time of the angels.     

   • With an afterword by Richard Holloway (author of Beyond Belief and Leaving Alexandria)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics (June 25 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099429098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099429098
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #787,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'...most influential writers of the twentieth century... she kept the traditional novel alive, and in so doing changed what it is capable of’ -- Guardian

About the Author

IRIS MURDOCH was born in Dublin in 1919 of Anglo-Irish parents. She went to Badminton School, Bristol, and read classics at Somerville College, Oxford. In 1948 she returned to Oxford where she became a fellow of St Anne's college. Awarded the CBE in 1976, Iris Murdoch was made a DBE in the 1987 New Year's Honours List. She died in February 1999.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Murdoch's best--and darkest June 5 2006
By Jay Dickson - Published on
THE TIME OF THE ANGELS is not one of Murdoch's best-known novels, but it is one of her best and most disturbing. Concentrated largely in a London rectory for a church bombed to smithereens during the last war, the novel is concerend, appropriately enough, with the ways in which people can act in the absence of God. The action of the novel--and much of the character's concerns--revolve upon the strange new rector of the church, Carel, who refuses to see anyone other than his daughter, his ward, and his servants in his new station, and who never leaves the house: the novel creates a wonderfully claustrophic atmosphere within the rectory that seems to anticipate that in the toymaker's house in Angela Carter's subsequent little masterpiece THE MAGIC TOYSHOP. (The hazy wintertime in the London streets of Murdoch's novel also act beautifully to counteract the overheated atmosphere inside the rectory.) Although the novel does not end up with as high a body count as some of Murdoch's other works (such as the Jacobean Gothic THE UNICORN), its concluding events are incredibly bleak--though lightened by some final touches of Murdochian humor.
2.0 out of 5 stars If you haven't read Iris Murdoch before Oct. 27 2013
By eagle eye - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
don't choose this one. It is very spare, the main character, Carel, hardly appears, there is some fairly rough stuff even for the times about a "colored" servant who is not really even treated by the author as a complete human being. The magic and the mystery and the search for the good along with, as my grandmother said 'everyone jumping into bed with everyone' is just not there. I find Murdoch to be one the most substantial and rewarding writers I ever read. She's a great 20th century novelist, and one of the few who will live on. This is just not one of her good writing moments.
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As wierd a novel as you will read this year July 28 2005
By C. B Collins Jr. - Published on
This is certainly a wierd story. A dominating, rude, destructive Anglican Priest has become an atheist preaching wild sermons to his disturbed and dissappearing parrishoners. Yet his dominance and control keep a solor system of lesser weakling personalities tied to him. Carel's behavior throughout the book is destructive yet his apologist daughter, Muriel, keeps making excuses for him, even when she finds that her invalid cousin, Elizabeth, is actually her father's illegitimate daughter with his sister-in-law and he is having sex with this young sickly woman that he knows is his daughter.

The parrish and parsonage are full of hidden passages and peep holes so that everyone can spy on Carel's misdeeds.

His brother Marcus continues to make contact with Carel, continually is rebuffed, and then thinks he is enlightened by this process by the wise older brother, Carel, who actually could care less whether his younger brother lives or dies.

Interestingly, there is a beautiful young amoral Russian boy, Leo, living in the parsonage with his father,who is just as amoral and is also forgiven because of his youth and beauty. I found it interesting that Murdoch would have the read be repulsed by the older Carel yet forgive the younger Leo, when they are both birds of a feather.

What an odd book!

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