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The Time of the Angels

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  402 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Carel is widowed rector presiding over a London church destroyed during the war. The rectory is home to an array of residents: his daughter, Muriel; his beautiful invalid ward, Elizabeth; their West Indian servant, Pattie; Eugene, a Russian emigre, and his delinquent son, Leo. Carel's brother, Marcus, is co-guardian of Elizabeth, but his attempts to get closer to the recto ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 1st 1988 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1966)
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The Bell by Iris MurdochThe Sea, the Sea by Iris MurdochThe Black Prince by Iris MurdochA Severed Head by Iris MurdochUnder the Net by Iris Murdoch
Best of Iris Murdoch
29th out of 32 books — 41 voters
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonThe Daughter of Time by Josephine TeyThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Do you have the...Time?
153rd out of 230 books — 28 voters

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Community Reviews

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Kastoori Barua
this is my first Murdoch novel and I am honestly bowled over by her brilliance. the novel is compact, intense, reflective, philosophical and dark with flashes of happiness.
Though Carel, the reclusive, eccentric and manipulative godless priest is at the peripheries textually, he is in fact, the center of everything that is happening, the nucleus of all life and events.
My favorite characters would be the delinquent Leo and Muriel. Though Elizabeth too becomes a very savory character.
The book is h
"Iris Murdoch’s novels are philosophy: but they are philosophy which casts doubts on all philosophy including her own. She is an author whose project involves an ironic distance not only from her characters but also from herself."

Until quite recently, I think, philosophers have not written very well on Iris Murdoch. MacIntyre, in the above, is more generous than some, but there is that lingering sense with him here as elsewhere that the generosity is tempered by the very inward-directed attent

Iris Murdoch writes well. She digs into the human soul and creates striking characters. This novel “Time of the Angels” focuses on a rector who lost his belief and question the good and the bad, to believe, not to believe and wishing to believe, morality and immorality as well as his complicated relationships with other people and incest theme. His discussions on morality and God with his brother Marcus are the significant parts of the book. Carel draws attention to the irrelevance between belie
Nathan Lee
What did I like about the book?
It is intense. The main characters are deeply living in their own worlds and struggle to understand others outside of their own needs. They intellectualise justifications for their own psychological drives.

What did I not like about the book?
It is very English. It feels of its time and place and culture. They did just all need to get out more. Most of the dilemmas were not real.

The way Norah cuts through everything so well. We have long sections of intelle
Constance Dunn
Mar 29, 2014 Constance Dunn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those struggling with their faith.
Murdoch is clever no doubt, but there was most definitely something that was….how should I say this? Either too much, or too little. First of all, the symbolism and subject matter is engaging: religion, faith, sexuality, love, a pressure cooker of supressed desire, it's all there. However, so are phrases like "almost inaudibly," "almost imperceptibly," "almost ….etc." So I can best say that I almost liked the read.
In the end I had style issues with the novel rather than plot issues, but I still
The priest of no God, a half-shadowed demon, a godfather hiding in semidarkness and shadows of his study, a dark figure in cassock, a mad philosopher, Carel is one of the most attractive characters I have ever met. There is always such a character in Murdock’s novels, the one, who is above all others. Even the omniscient author has no access to his mind. All the events are weaving around this mysterious personality, other characters are afraid of him and at the same time love, revere him. He is ...more
I'd been planing to read something of hers for a while (The Sea, the Sea, Under the Net are on my TBR list), but I bought this one very very cheap (and old, it decomposed as I read it) in Hye-on-Wye (aprox. 9 months ago) and I haven't read it until now.

I thought it would be difficult and weird but it turns out it's difficult and weird and also incredibly engaging. I'm quite aware some of the philosophy escaped me, but I still devoured it and enjoyed it, and I guess that what I made of it is what
Bryn Hammond
This, I swear, was heavily influenced by Dostoyevsky -- no bad thing in my book, although I spent the novel distracted by Dostoyevsky-spotting. Also my first Iris Murdoch. Not one of her majors I imagine.
This is the 10th of Murdoch's 26 novels, from 1966, though it seems to be set in a London of at least a decade earlier, amid coal smog and unreconstructed half-bombed buildings. One of the latter, the remnants of a church with a house for the rector's family but no place for any parishioners to gather, has proved to be a good place for the local bishop to warehouse an eccentric, verging on rogue, priest, along with his young female relatives (daughter and niece), his mulatto household servant (w ...more
This is the 1978 edition by Triad/Panther Books. The cover shows a detail from a painting of Chloe Boughton_Leigh c. 1907. by Gwen John (Tate Gallery, London).
Gila Gila
I am unhealthily obsessed with this deliciously unhealthy book. Surely there's an X-rated version being filmed somewhere in need of a ... something. An anything. I'll do Leo's make up (has any fictional character so begged for eyeliner), I'll bring Carel his tea to give him the energy needed for so many ... forays. I'll loan him my riding crops, one imagines he'd know what to do with them. Or perhaps such items come with the ministry. But really, whatever's called for, like almost everyone in th ...more
Karen Barnacle
You can always rely on Iris Murdoch for an interesting plot, enchantment, intrigue and a canter through theology and philosophy. This is set in a London rectory, the only building other than a Wren tower that is still standing in the area. Father Carel is a priest who has just moved into the parish, bringing with him his adult daughter Muriel and his ward, the invalid Elizabeth. All three live a claustrophobic life, other than the servants Pattie, Eugene (who is already resident in the rectory) ...more
I read the book on the plane. Rather disturbed by it. The plot as usual explores the theme of the existence of God, faith, human conditions, love. Yet the story diverges from Iris Murdoch’s usual. It weaves around Carel, a pastor who had lost his faith. Carel very rarely appeared in the book but his presence was much felt and talked about in every scene. Carel exerted some form of emotional and psychological hold on the characters. Muriel, Elizabeth, his daughters, Pattie, his housekeeper and Ma ...more
Jul 22, 2012 Jo rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: england
Very strange novel featuring an Anglican priest who doesn't believe in God, and who is vicar of a church that has been destroyed in the war and no longer exists. Symbolic or what. Around him flutter several disturbed and strange characters - his daughter, his ward, his servant, a Russian emigre, his brother and a couple of do-gooding women.

Lots of chat about the existence or otherwise of God, and what it is to be good, etc.

Nobody in the book is anybody you'd ever want to spend time with - even
I've read a few other works by Murdoch and consider myself a fan. This one, though, was too heavy on the philosophy for my tastes.
Matthew Shaw
Suffocating and gothic. Will the fog never lift?
Set in a vicarage - without a church. A reclusive priest of dubious faith and immoral habits, his 24-ish daughter, creepy "disabled" 19 year old niece, mixed race orphaned housekeeper, Polish handyman and the handyman's rebellious 20-ish son. Each chapter focuses on a different character/relationship. Incredibly vivid and chapter 9 has an excellent and prescient parody of politically correct Anglican waffle about the nature of faith and accepting people regardless etc. The literal and metaphoric ...more
Feb 28, 2015 Adam added it
Rectors are always so creepy!
Some readers will probably think Murdoch's prose a bit dated in style now, but the plots and character are superb. I love almost every novel of hers that I've read but they require a lot from the reader if you want to enjoy them fully - details and nuances of psychology and character are subtle and need thinking about. The character of Patty is particularly finely drawn in this book. It's one I've read several times over the years, not one of her better known books perhaps, but I keep being draw ...more
Joanna Conrad
Excellent book. Difficult ending. Strangely atmospheric. Would make an excellent anime/manga.
This was so different to other Murdochs - the usual elements were there; religion, philosophy, London and the Thames - but it was told largely from the standpoint of the poor downtrodden servants, as opposed to the idle rich that they serve. A refreshing change! And an eerie, gothic tale - but for me, totally convincing, totally mesmerising. I was spellbound the whole way though.
The philosophical questions this book wrestles with are key--what is good, and how can we be good or even conceive of morality in a world without god? But the characters, as in many Murdoch novels, seemed merely in the service of her philosophical agenda and did not have a life of their own. I couldn't believe that these characters could exist outside of a Murdoch allegory.
I love Murdoch, but this novel is extremely odd. I remember lifting my head every now and then to tell anyone in the vicinity that I was beginning to get rather upset by all of the goings on. It is, however, an engaging novel, and very distinct from the others I've read by her; although mostly this is because it is less amusing, I would recommend it none-the-less.
First rate Murdoch
Lauren Albert
I can't seem to recapture what enthralled me about Murdoch's novels when I was much younger--perhaps the fatalism which depresses me now came across as simply romantic to someone at the age to believe they there is all hope still laying ahead of them? But I still enjoy the characterizations and the philosophical side of her fiction writing.
Hardly a typical Iris Murdoch novel, but brilliant nonetheless - full of ambiguities, with a murky, dark aftertaste. This is probably the most pessimistic of Murdoch's novels that I have read so far, with less of the lightheartedness that would normally detract from the dismal fates of the main characters.
a very dark but gripping story filled with the most grotesque collection of characters I have ever met in a work of serious fiction. A mix of madness, incest, and religious philosophy. She creates a world of her own, and, though not really believable, it kept me turning pages.
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Dame Jean Iris Murdoch

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
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“Never seen the sea! How could anyone not have seen the sea? Surely the sea must somehow belong to the happiness of every child.” 1 likes
“God lives and works in history. The outward mythology changes, the inward truth remains the same.” 0 likes
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