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The Sandcastle

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  641 ratings  ·  49 reviews
A sparklingly profound novel about the conflict between love and loyalty
The quiet life of schoolmaster Bill Mor and his wife Nan is disturbed when a young woman, Rain Carter, arrives at the school to paint the portrait of the headmaster. Mor, hoping to enter politics, becomes aware of new desires. A complex battle develops, involving love, guilt, magic, art, and political
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ebook, 320 pages
Published March 1st 1978 by Penguin Books (first published 1957)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,161)
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Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
My mother read a couple of Murdoch books but never continued with this author because, as she put it, she found her work a bit too 'somber'. She also said that I would probably like them because I'm somber too.

I suspect what she was referring too was Murdoch's implacable insight - a quality which, as an online acquaintance puts it, is downright preternatural at times. Murdoch is uncompromising in her meticulous, scrupulous characterisations, presenting people as realistic and complex. It would
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June Louise
This is the first Iris Murdoch book I have read and I know it will not be the last. One word sums up The Sandcastle to me, and that word is WOW!! Loved it, loved it, loved it!

Set around a boy's school and its staff, we meet Mor, his rather forceful wife, Nan, and their two teenage offspring, Don and Felicity. This seems to be quite a dysfunctional family in a way, especially Felicity who believes she has a special "gift". Then enters into the story some of the school staff, Revvy Evvy, Demoyte,
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Lauren
I cannot recall how many Iris Murdoch books I have read. They have all been amazing, and it has taken quite a bit of self-restraint to resist reading each and every one of her books, one after the other. But I have thus far succeeded because I like to space out the goodness.

The Sandcastle is a brief and straightforward novel about a family man who is unhappy with his marriage, and drawn toward a much younger woman who shows up in town for a spell. What I appreciated most about the book is the hu
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Meg Marie
I feel like this book was very British, and very 1960s style - a lot of words and details, not a lot of dialogue, VERY little action. Not my favorite style, personally.
Tony
THE SANDCASTLE. (1957). Iris Murdoch. *****.
This novel by Murdoch (1919-1999) easily qualifies as a five-star performance, even though there were a couple of sections that could easily have been edited out and provided additional forward motion to the plot. It’s the story of Bill Mor, a middle-aged, married schoolmaster who falls violently in love with a young woman painter who has been commissioned to paint a portrait of the recently retired headmaster. The story becomes complicated by Nan, Mo
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Judy

Interesting story for Murdoch. Mor is a teacher and housemaster at St Bride's school. His wife Nan is a carping, controlling woman who has beaten her husband down with a superior attitude. They have a teenage son who attends St Bride's and a pubescent daughter at another private school. Because I have read Harry Potter, I am familiar with this English school scene.

A young female painter arrives at St Bride's where she has been commissioned to paint the portrait of the former headmaster. Mor fa
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Lauren Albert
I really liked this--it is my favorite of the three of her books that I've read or re-read so far. As the cover of the book says very accurately, it is about "the conflict between love and loyalty." Well, perhaps I would complicate that a bit. I'm not giving anything away (it is on the back cover description of the book) to say that the protagonist has to choose between his powerful love for a young painter and his loyalty to his family. What complicates the book description I mentioned is that ...more
Michael
This is my third novel by Iris Murdoch, and probably the one I like the most. This may be because I don't remember the other books(Brunos Dream, the other title escapes me) except that I liked them. This novel is the story of Mor, a teacher in a private school married to a controlling wife, Nan. Without giving to much away, Mor ends up in a situation where he can start his life over with a younger women, Rain, or pursue his dreams within the confines of his marriage. This novel (one of Murdochs ...more
Leanne Hunt
I am always positive about Iris Murdoch's books simply because of the detailed character descriptions, insight into motivation and clever storytelling. The prologue to the edition I read said there was very little to tie the title to the actual story except with reference to the Bible passage about the man who built his house on the sand and saw it washed away. The book is a tender portrayal of a man whose life has become dull and who rediscovers his own capacity for love through an artist and h ...more
Ben Loory
iris murdoch continues to dazzle... still don't know how she does it... this is probably the "normalest" of the books of hers i've read-- it's almost completely "realistic"-- and yet somehow it too seems to glow from within with mystery and fantasy and hallucinatory detail and feeling and metaphysical import... love iris murdoch more than ever... i feel like i live her books more than read them...
Kristin
So much of what happens that is significant in this story (as in life) takes place in the minds of its characters in response to seemingly insignificant minutae. Murdoch has an amazing ability to capture the subtle shifts in thought or feeling which trigger an avalanche of responses from ourselves and from others. Which is not to say that the story is uneventful or merely cerebral.

I like also how supernatural elements are suggested throughout, but gently, giving you the sense that there is some
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Loretta
Another very satisfying Murdoch read, for me. She captures the complexity and contradictions inherent in human nature and human relationships. I liked it a lot.
Lisbeth Solberg
What I posted earlier:

Brilliant so far. I'm in the middle of a sweet and funny scene which (I'm certain) will culminate in tragedy (like the can't-stop-singing scene in The God of Small Things). I want to stop reading the book because I don't want the book to stop.

My new comments now that our book group (of two) has discussed it:

I think the only negative for me was that I got this somewhat cliche picture in my head of Rain as a cinematic female lead like Audrey Hepburn or Leslie Caron, and I cou
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Sara
I have never read a book which details the hopes and despair of an ill-conceived affair so well, but without romanticising it in the slightest. The plot describes the ageing academic, Mor, and his brilliantly infuriating wife, Nan, in the power struggle of their largely loveless marriage. When Mor accidentally falls in love with a vivacious and youthful artist called Rain, his entire life is thrown into turmoil as he suddenly discovers happiness and way to exist in his own right. Though Murdoch ...more
Despair Speaking
Slightly better than the other two books I've read from Iris Murdoch. I actually felt bad that Bill was suspected of having an affair with Rain when their relationship was still "innocent". It reminded me of the woman in TV who ended up having an affair because her husband kept accusing her that she was meeting with someone every time she comes home late even though she hasn't done anything. So I wasn't all too surprised that they ended up having an affair. Sure, he wasn't accused with it in his ...more
Yulia
I've recently reread this book for the Home Reading class that I'm teaching and I was yet again reminded of how amazingly beautiful and incredibly symbolic it is. Seriously, this book is teeming with symbols of all kinds imaginable! I remember not particularly liking it back then, in my third year, but that was because reading it (and discussing every single detail, even (seemingly) insignificant ones) was a must and because the language was perhaps a bit too sophisticated to me then, but now I ...more
Bob
All that Muriel Spark was somehow the appetizer to the four Murdoch's currently in my queue - don't you think Murdoch (or Margaret Drabble for that matter) are more deserving of the Nobel than Doris Lessing?

Finished this - a good 'un! - a pretty standard Murdoch plot in which one half (often it's both) of a long-married couple with teenage children gets distracted - the affair is tempestuous but doomed, drama is injected by one of the children getting into some life-threatening scrape (I'm serio
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Viktorija
After all, he thought, I can be guided by this. Let me only make clear what I gain, and what I destroy.

My very first Murdoch exceeded all my expectations. I frankly hardly know where to start, or even what I want to say. Funny, suspenseful, a loud, relentless hymn of creation and destruction. Rarely does one see such brilliant harmony between plot, character development, and hard work on developing the underlying themes. (The word "themes", naturally, said in Stephen Fry's voice)

There are so man
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Ali
Iris Murdoch's third published novel is a fascinating about the relationship between a married school master and a young woman who arrives to paint the portrait of the retired headmaster. A more domestic, and mature work than the previous two novels.
Hannah
I had never read Iris Murdoch before. Really enjoyed - about a private boy's school teacher in England mid century and his marriage and dreams. Sad but also really funny at times. Sort of reminded me a bit of Virginia Woolf.
Jonfaith
My favorite Murdoch so far. There was an incessant current of vitality in the novel, even the henpecked and the discared surged and embraced. That's a feat in itself.
Booklovinglady
Read the book for the first time for my secondary school exams, early in 1982. Bought a copy some years later and read it again, as I really liked it.
Kasia The Bookworm
I find this book tiresome and banal.I don't like it I,m sorry to say.And the ending..
I've read before some Murdoch but this was nothing like her,really..
Rebekah
"Dame" Murdoch's well written books are convoluted, philosophical, amusing, tragic stories of human failing and redemption.
Jessica
Quintessential Brit Lit - perfectly tuned and sneakily funny. One of the most accessible of the great writers.
Silvia
My favourite book ever, it's simply perfect, Murdoch at her very best!!!!!!
dead letter office
I love Iris Murdoch. This is the fourth book I've read by her and the fourth one in which a swimming scene figures prominently. This time everything turns around Rain's swim in the river (not, as Felicity would have had it, around the ceremony on the rocks or the climb on the tower).

On a separate note, here is a list of books in which cars sink in rivers: Gallatin Canyon, The Love of a Good Woman, The Sandcastle. Let me know if I have missed any.
Elaine
This is really more worthy of a 3 1/2 star rating, in my opinion.
In the very simple lives of ordinary people, with mundane English village lifestyles of honorable participants, there can emerge the most tormenting, unsolvable desires that can never be fulfilled, and one must just continue to endure, while all that promises happiness and contentment is lost just like the weak foundation of a sandcastle.
Murdoch was a genius, and she portrayed all the psychological torment along with detailed, ste
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India
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Roger Buck
Doubt I would relate to this now. In my memory, at lest all seems too Protestant and British. (I used to be Protestant and British, myself but I became Catholic and French ;-) ...)

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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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“In a world without a redeemer only clarity was the answer to guilt. He would make it all clear to himself, shirking nothing, and then he would decide.” 0 likes
“He felt as if he were under an intolerable physical strain, as if his body were likely at any moment to fly to pieces. Other strange physical symptoms came to trouble him. An unpleasant odour lingered in his nostrils, as if he could literally smell the sulphur of the pit; and he had from time to time the curious illusion that his flesh was turning black. He had to look continually at his hands to be sure that it was not so. Nightmares troubled him, waking and sleeping - and one bad dream conjured up another, running from box to box to release its fellows. The world around him seemed to have become equally mad and hateful. The newspapers were full of stories of grotesque violence and unnatural crimes. He knew neither how to go on nor what to do to bring these horrors to an end.” 0 likes
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