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The Time of the Angels Paperback – Jun 25 2002
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'...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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Set in the claustrophobic environment of a somewhat isolated rectory during a fog and snow bound winter period, it involves a small set of principal characters living in the household of reclusive but still domineering Anglican priest Carel Fisher. They include the widower Carel’s daughter Muriel, his niece and ward Elizabeth, the bi-racial housekeeper Pattie, live-in servant Eugene, a Russian emigre and also a widower, and Eugene’s son Leo.
Using this almost hermetically sealed cast of characters (a few outside visitors do occasionally intrude, primarily Carel’s brother Marcus) and their secrets and desires, Murdoch constructs a compelling story of intersecting and cross purposes, telling the tale primarily from the points of view of Muriel and Pattie and occasionally Eugene, Leo and Marcus but—critically—never Carel or Elizabeth, who maintain tremendous influence over the other characters in the household seemingly without effort.
The story is interesting enough through its first three quarters or so (I’ll decline to give any spoilers because it really is a great read), and one gets the distinct impression that Murdoch is setting up a big finish as the various plot strands play out. If so, one is not disappointed as there are a number of shocker revelations and developments that, while skirting melodrama, are undoubtedly effective and perfectly cap the story’s dramatic arc.
This is one of Iris Murdoch’s best novels and it’s a shame it is also one of her least known, judging by the paltry number of reviews here on Amazon. By all means, if you are at all interested in Murdoch, The Time of the Angels is a must-read.
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!