Juli's Reviews > The Bell

The Bell by Iris Murdoch
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's review
May 21, 2009

really liked it
Read in May, 2009

A classic piece of literature. It's almost 5 stars but I think it will take a re-reading to get to 5-start status.

Iris Murdoch had me at hello. The book starts with these lines:
"Dora Greenfield left her husband because she was afraid of him. She decided six months later to return to him for the same reason."

The story is set in 1950's England but could have happened today. The Bell about a group of dysfunctional people (which means they are just like you and me) who live together in a small community near an abbey, each of whom are on a journey to figure out who they are. Murdoch paints characters that you swear you know or are. She captures the true emotions and honest wrestlings of identity and calling. Murdoch raises questions about religion, morality, idolatry, and humanity within the relationships of her characters. I got a lot more out of this one after discussion and some online reviews/commentaries. There is a lot more to this book than just a good story. Murdoch pieces the characters and the place together in brilliant ways. I did however, find it a bit tough to read sometimes - I'm not sure if it was her prose or just the classic style I had to get used to. Murdoch's writing is rich with symbolism, hard questions, and raw emotion. I look forward to reading more of her work.
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