An Unofficial Rose (Vintage Classics)
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An Unofficial Rose (Vintage Classics)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  344 ratings  ·  27 reviews
After his wife's death, Hugh contemplates returning to his former mistress. His son, Randall, longs to abandon his shapeless marriage for a perfect partner. Randall's young daughter, Miranda, is adored by her Australian cousin Penn, but has attachments elsewhere. Her mother Ann has her own private dream, while taking upon herself the strains and pains of all the others. Im...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1962)
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Carrie
I don't know where I got this book - I must have purchased it in a used bookstore/book sale binge, under the idea that I had never read any Murdoch before and now was the time to start. I started reading it as part of my weird commuting book program, and I am certainly glad that I did, since it was a great read. The Unofficial Rose is subtitled "The Complicated, Funny, Sad Romance of Many People Lost in a Garden," and honestly, that is exactly what its about. It concerns a family and close frien...more
Cecily
A fairly typical Murdoch (which is a good thing, imo), charting the tangled lives and reconfigured and unrequited relationships of family and friends, featuring a Svengali-like figure, and focusing on just a year or two. Most of the characters are somewhat lonely and broken, with a tendency to introspection, no one is very happy for long, and few of the characters are very likeable (though all are intriguing).

One way in which it differs from some of Murdoch's other novels is that all but one of...more
Blake
She did not know herself. It was not possible, it was not necessary, it was perhaps not even proper. Real compassion is agnosticism; and we must be compassionate to ourselves too. Tasks lay ahead, one after one after one, and the gradual return to an old simplicity. She would never know, and that would be her way of surviving.


The character of An Unofficial Rose has transition as its key trait, but it's difficult to know if it's a virtue or a vice. Among Iris Murdoch's published works, it sits b...more
Laurie
‘An Unofficial Rose’ is a family story- a very dysfunctional family. The matriarch has just died, and the day of her funeral starts the book. With Fanny dead, Hugh Peronett is now free to rekindle an old relationship with Emma. His son, Randall, wants to be free of his wife, Ann, so that he can pursue Emma’s companion, Lindsey. Hugh’s grandson by his absent daughter, Penn, is visiting for the summer, and he pursues Randall and Ann’s daughter, Miranda-and he is in turn pursued by another characte...more
Carol
Fanny Perronet was dead. Hugh's wife, Fanny, dies after 40 years of marriage; his former lover, Emma, appears at the funeral. Hugh becomes wild to win her love again, while neighbor Mildred (with her gay husband Humphrey's blessing) has designs on Hugh. Hugh's son Randall, meanwhile, is madly in love with Emma's companion/secretary Lindsey who may or may not be having an affair with her employer while Randall's wife Ann yearns for Mildred's brother Felix, who, in turn, has always secretly adored...more
Julie Bozza
Hhhmmm... I'm having a bit of a problematic relationship with Iris Murdoch lately. The first books of hers that I read were The Bell and The Sea, the Sea, in which I found various things to like, love or at least admire. Since then it's grown difficult!

This novel is detailed and clever, with superb analysis of characters, and terrific use of place. However, the 'bad' characters are bad in nasty, maniuplative, selfish, destructive ways that make them completely unsympathetic - and the 'good' char...more
Jim
There is a moment in this book where one of the characters says, “Sometimes I see no point in going on. We're all going to be blown up soon anyway. I'd rather die young in my own way than die slowly of radiation sickness.” When I read that line I was suddenly jolted back into the twentieth century; the book was first published in 1962. I say that because if you excised this singular reminder that the characters within its pages are living under the shadow of the bomb you could easily be reading...more
Lucy
I LOVED this book! The premise - various people of various ages fall in and out of love with each other under various circumstances - doesn't sound that exciting. But this isn't Mills and Boon, it's Murdoch, and she's on great form here with some marvellously real, three dimensional characters, and acute insights into their motives, hopes and fears. It makes for addictive and satisfying reading - perfect for anyone endlessly fascinated with and mystified by the human condition.
Marius Hancu
While reading An Unofficial Rose by Iris Murdoch, you may want to see my questions related to it as answered in the alt.usage.english (AUE) Usenet newsgroup. My thanks to the participating AUE members. The focus of my questions was the language: rare words, funny or original expressions, strange constructs -- as I saw them.

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Wendy
Absolutely delicious tale and language - renewed my interest in Iris Murdoch.
Cara
I love Iris Murdoch
Meghan C.
I originally read this book as a girl and I loved it. It's been 14 years since that time and when I opened the cover about a week ago, I realized that I had completely lost all memory of it.

It seems that this book and I have had a parting of ways over the past decade and a half.

The story centers around a British family sometime in the 50s or 60s (post atomic bomb) and the revolving door of emotions they all have toward one another.

The fact that Iris Murdoch is undeniably a great writer hasn't c...more
Helen Kitson
My fondness for Iris Murdoch grows with every novel of hers I read. I'm reading them out of sequence, so it's not a literary progression that I'm admiring. I think it's just that, with every novel I read, I more and more 'get' Murdoch's fictional world and find myself drawn into it.

This one opens with the funeral of Fanny, wife of Hugh. He admits to himself that he married her at least in part for her money (her father was a rich art dealer). Although most of the father's paintings went to Fanny...more
Sarah Payok
I love Iris Murdoch. She is my favorite author. I savor every one of her books, even on repeated readings. Thus it was a bit of a surprise for me that I didn't love An Unofficial Rose.

It's a *good* book. It truly is. But it isn't her best. At times it almost felt formulaic - yet again, she takes good people and manipulates the situation to see if truly good people will behave badly or if they will act against themselves due to their goodness. Usually her characters are so interesting and unique...more
Ian
As always with Murdoch, a beguilingly simple economy of language lures you into a complex scheme of characters with very specific interactions. Is love the same as control? What are experience, memory, consciousness and will?

"Had she acted or had her act been stolen from her? Can our acts be stolen from us?"
Katya
Знакомство с новым для меня автором прошло не очень хорошо... Пару раз хотелось бросить и, наверное, так и сделала бы, если бы не моя привычка дочитывать начатое.

Сюжета как такового нет. Есть зарисовка из жизни одной семьи, состоящая из бесконечных разговоров и выяснений отношений. Ну и, пожалуй, все. Читая, я все надеялась на какую-нибудь "искру", которая хоть как-то оживила бы эту книгу. Но нет, этому не суждено было случиться, действие так и не сдвинулось с мертвой точки. Интрига отсутствует...more
Persephone Abbott
Is love freedom? Is freedom love? Can you buy it? Can it be held and possessed?

I liked Hatfield the cat who once so cherished goes wild after his mistress dies. Spotted in the fields eating baby rabbits, drinking the milk left out for the hedgehogs. Bad Hatfield but oh so good Hatfield.

And the people, all in love and out of love and don't know where they are in love, trying to drink their tea, arrange flowers and look out for Hatfield.

An enjoyable book. Sometimes a little too soap opera-ish f...more
Laura
A bit dark and desolate for Murdoch--very little of her wonderful wry humor on the human condition shows through here. Both the men and women characters are tossed and turned by fate, and all have little comprehension of the forces at work in their lives. But the women get a much rawer deal than the men, which seems the case for most early Murdoch novels. This is a sobering commentary on divorce before second wave feminism took off, and a window into a social world that thankfully no longer exis...more
Hilary
Not one of my favourite Iris Murdochs, but a good dip into Murdoch land, which I seem to need every now and then. How to be good, how to know oneself and get what one wants and needs at the same time. Hidden motives and the unknowableness of other human beings are all common themes. Machievellian teenagers, greedy and selfish grown ups, weak men and strong scheming women.
Mary
I liked this book and will read more of Iris Murdoch's books. I became aware of her after watching a movie about her that starred Kate Winslet as the young Iris and Judi Dench as the older Iris. It was so good.
Betty
I got this author from a book that I was reading and she turned out to be a very difficult writer, but I did finish the book. I will not read any more of hers.
Natasha Hall
Usual spiritual and moral prose from the brilliant Murdoch, never gives you what you think you want in an ending, sticks to the heartbreak of reality.
Farzaneh Doosti
My pal says she writes well, and even more, she writes perfectly

i m curious to find it our myself
Msmarii
Liked it and at the same didn't like it. Maybe I'm too young to understand.
Sue Bird
Love Murdoch, but after a while all her books seem to be the same....
Geoff
I have this as a treasured first edition.
Bianca
Bianca marked it as to-read
Jul 19, 2014
Catherine Harris
Catherine Harris marked it as to-read
Jul 19, 2014
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FABClub (Female A...: * An Unofficial Rose Discussion (Classics Series #5) 2 5 Jul 09, 2014 08:35AM  
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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...more
More about Iris Murdoch...
The Sea, the Sea Under the Net The Bell A Severed Head The Black Prince

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