Nuns and Soldiers
Set in London and in the South of France, this brilliantly structured novel centers on two women: Gertrude Openshaw, bereft from the recent death of her husband, yet awakening to passion; and Anne Cavidge, who has returned in doubt from many years in a nunnery, only to encounter her personal Christ. A fascinating array of men and women hover in urgent orbit around them: th...more
The story's central figure, Gertrude went through her own personal turmoil, falling in love with a being who was considered to be morally and socially inferior after the passing of her husband. The web of lies spun, deceits thrown and emotional upheavals of the characters around ...more
SPOILERS AHOY AHOY
The unrequited love story lines felt genuine. But there were instances where I didn't fully understand a character's motivations: Gertrude and Tim's break-up and their lack of communication, Manfred and Veronica's doings at the end there, pretty much anything Gertrude did of her own volition.
I didn't care as much for the characters individually as I did for their relationships. The ...more
I find Iris Murdoch novels as hard to keep separated in my head as Bond movies. Usually, though, there is at least one memorable incident which I clearly associate with the book.
Here, the scene I remember involves Gertrude and the odd, slightly geeky character that everyone calls the Count. Gertrude asks him whether he'd like to play chess. She's a complete beginner. He's very good, though she isn't aware of this. She's surprised when he refuses. "Why not?" she asks. He says, "Because it would b ...more
The 4 main characters were just not interesting - widow Gertrude was self-serving and the epitome of ordinary, Tim the young lover was useless and ordinary, the Count was silly pretending to be a Pole when he was an ordinary English clerk - and even the "defrocked" nun was incapable of thinking anything new. Potentially extraordinary c ...more
A novel of two women: Gertrude Openshaw, bereft from the recent death of her husband, yet awakening to passion; and Anne Cavidge, who has returned in doubt from many years in a nunnery, only to encounter her personal Christ. A fascinating array of men and women hover in urgent orbit around them: the "Count," a lonely Pole obsessively reliving his émigré father's patriotic anguish; Tim Reede, a seedy yet appealing artist, and Da ...more
Well, that's symplistic, of course. But I love Murdoch nonetheless, even though reading all her novels in the space of a summer of romance (I being in love with A, who loved B, and so on) I did find myself making bets with myself as to which page the black dog would appear upon, and where the stones would figure. She's unique. You will love her or you will be w ...more
I don’t know how many times I’ve read this because my paperback copy (1982) has fallen apart, it’s just a pile of loose pages. Iris Murdoch’s novels are like Bach’s fugues, no matter how many times they’re read or played there’s always something new. I started this one again in the middle of the recent edition of Murdoch’s letters, meaning with yet another light on it, because it exasperated a good many ‘critics’ who made it their business to infer from it usually unflattering and – as it turns ...more
The Sea, the Sea is one of my favourite Murdoch novels and one of her most famous; its follow-up is much less well known. It doesn't quite equal its predecessor, but it is well worth reading, more so than her later novels.
Nuns and Soldiers begins on a deathbed; Guy Openshaw tells his wife that she should marry again. She is reluctant to do this, feeling that it would be a betrayal, but then, quite soon after Guy's death, Gertrude falls unexpecte ...more
The main reason I didn't like Nuns and Soldiers was that I hated the ending. Ugh, what a horrible ending. It made me hate everyone; I ended up not liking any of the characters ... except maybe Manfred, which is so weird, because I didn't like him at all until the end. Even the Count lost his charm for me. ...more
We are all the judges and the judged, victims of the casual malice and fantasy of others, and ready sources of fantasy and malice in our turn. And if we are sometimes accused of sins of which we are innocent, are ther ...more
Extra points for the bitchy conversation at the end between two tertiary characters that brought me back to the Midsummer Night's Dream element of my favourite Murdoch novel, ...more
Irish-born British writer, university lecturer and prolific and highly professional novelist, Iris Murdoch dealt with everyday ethical or moral issues, sometimes in the light of myths. As a writer, she was a perfectionist who did not allow editors to change her text. Murdoch produced 26 novels in 40 years, the last written while she was suffering from Alzheimer disease.
"She w ...more