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The Good Apprentice Paperback – Dec 1 2001

2.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (Dec 1 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141186682
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141186689
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 45 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #200,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I enjoy and admire Iris Murdoch, but this was a tough one to finish. The characters are appealing, but are constantly undergoing bizarre emotional transformations. One minute she loves Harry, the next minute she loves Stuart, now she loves Thomas with a newfound maturity. Now he's consumed by incurable black despair - whoops, now he's shaken it off and is facing the future with cautious optimism. It wouldn't be so tedious except that each transient mental state is described with the same passionate conviction and detail.
Secondly, the relationships here are even more incestuous and coincidental than usual. Everybody knows everybody else and it seems like there are only a dozen people in the world. Edward loves Brownie who loves Giles who is the son of Edward's tutor and until recently loved Edward's brother Stuart. Harry loves Midge who is the sister of his deceased wife and Edward's mother Chloe. Sarah seduces Edward which figures in the death of Brownie's brother Mark; Sarah, Brownie and their mothers are all friends whom Edward accidentally discovers living near his father's country home. Edward's stepmother May writes her memoirs, which are critically reviewed by Sarah's mother Elspeth; you get the idea.
Of course there were some fine moments, and I won't give up on reading Murdoch, but I doubt this was one of her best efforts.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9f7b2aec) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f7e5e58) out of 5 stars murdoch's genius Dec 9 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the three superb long novels Murdoch published in the second half of the 80s. The characters are brilliantly drawn, especially the psychiatrist Thomas, his friend the ambitious, talented but frustrated Harry Cuno, and Harry's son Stuart, the good apprentice of the title. Underneath the typical Murdochian plot twists, the novel tackles profound themes, including depression and mental illness, guilt and forgiveness, and the impact of technology on human relations. The parts of the novel set in London are stronger than those set in the country. Her genius is fully on display here.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f7ce588) out of 5 stars Good intentions & the pursuit of happiness Jan. 13 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
What happens when loving intentions result in disastrous outcomes? Iris Murdoch's, The Good Apprentice, features gothic ancestral dwellings, a trio of eccentric women, peculiar, seedy London séances, modern psychiatry, upper-class contemporary love affairs and infidelity, intense family relationships and questing for worthy missions in order to justify individual lives. I didn't easily breeze through this book neither could I put it down. Murdoch's heavy philosophical background is excruciatingly evident. However, I knew I was in the hands of a great artist when I laughed out loud with delight in passages. I look forward to reading more of her writing.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f7b2f48) out of 5 stars Rich in pleasures, plot, and philosophy July 25 2005
By Miss Grimke - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Good Apprentice sucked me into reading Iris Murdoch about 20 years ago. I have since worked my way, with immense pleasure, through all her novels. I'm reading GA for the second time, and I find I have less patience now for the long philosophical soliloquies of the characters. But the novel reminds me how well Murdoch indulges her readers' love a good plot and richly imagined and deliciously flawed characters, all revolving around a Great Man, who may not be but probably is somewhat of a charlatan. Reading Murdoch is the best way I know to combine a love of philosophy--and excellent writing--with a hankering for soap opera. GA is a good place to start reading Murdoch (and come back to).
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f7b6078) out of 5 stars A horrible death leads two young men on a comic pursuit of forgiveness and goodness April 3 2010
By D. Cloyce Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Few authors could take the ghastly death depicted in the opening pages of "The Good Apprentice" and turn it into the stuff of comedy. In the novel's first chapter, Edward mischievously spikes his friend's sandwich with LSD and, when his friend passes out, he leaves for a nearby date with a girl. The ensuing tragedy, a result of jovial if reckless negligence, wracks Edward with guilt--a shame complicated by the fact that he lies about his role during the inquiry.

At its most basic level, the novel portrays a basically decent young man whose life has gone horribly wrong. In the immediate aftermath, Edward lives in a hell of his own making; his friend's mother sends venomous, accusatory letters, but nothing can be more damning than the young man's own opinion of himself. And the adults in his immediate circle who might be able to help him out of the morass quickly prove themselves to be oblivious dimwits or deceitful hypocrites. To escape the madness, Edward flees to Seegard, the estate owned by his reclusive father, an illustrious artist and notorious rogue he has never met but whom he reinvents as an idol. His stepbrother, meanwhile, has decided to pursue a monastic/mystical path in pursuit of goodness, but his initial efforts prove to be misguided--and anything but altruistic.

Edward and Stuart form the book's center, but the supporting members of the cast are brilliantly rendered: Thomas, perhaps the only respectable psychotherapist in all of Murdoch's fiction, reluctantly dispenses wisdom and advice, unaware of the treachery of those closest to him; Edward's stepmother May and her daughter Bettina guard the secrets of Seegard and of their cloistered guru-artist and appear, variously, as a well-meaning protectors, outmoded hippie-chicks, and scheming witch-like gaolers; and Brownie, the confused sister of Edward's victim, reveals herself to be more open to the possibility of forgiveness than does her mother, whose "hatred is taking over her life." The intertwined lives of these families lead Edward from one startling revelation to another--and then his father Jesse vanishes.

This is the book that started me on my trek through Murdoch's novels nearly 25 years ago, and it has a little of everything you'll find in her novels: a thickly plotted comedy of British manners and pretenses, a "novel of ideas" that explores morality through the various metaphysical stances of its characters, a psychodrama of the "prodigal son" and his journey to hell and back, a neo-Gothic tale of an idyllic resort that turns into an eerie prison, a sitcom of impossible coincidences that brings together the book's saints and sinners in the type of uproarious scene you'd expect in a Neil Simon play. Yet for all its melodrama, angst, parody, and farce, "The Good Apprentice" is deadly serious about its inquiry into what it means--and what it takes--to be good in this world.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f795fe4) out of 5 stars A bit contrived and melodramatic Aug. 26 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I enjoy and admire Iris Murdoch, but this was a tough one to finish. The characters are appealing, but are constantly undergoing bizarre emotional transformations. One minute she loves Harry, the next minute she loves Stuart, now she loves Thomas with a newfound maturity. Now he's consumed by incurable black despair - whoops, now he's shaken it off and is facing the future with cautious optimism. It wouldn't be so tedious except that each transient mental state is described with the same passionate conviction and detail.
Secondly, the relationships here are even more incestuous and coincidental than usual. Everybody knows everybody else and it seems like there are only a dozen people in the world. Edward loves Brownie who loves Giles who is the son of Edward's tutor and until recently loved Edward's brother Stuart. Harry loves Midge who is the sister of his deceased wife and Edward's mother Chloe. Sarah seduces Edward which figures in the death of Brownie's brother Mark; Sarah, Brownie and their mothers are all friends whom Edward accidentally discovers living near his father's country home. Edward's stepmother May writes her memoirs, which are critically reviewed by Sarah's mother Elspeth; you get the idea.
Of course there were some fine moments, and I won't give up on reading Murdoch, but I doubt this was one of her best efforts.

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