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The Sandcastle

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,158 ratings  ·  100 reviews
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 and a different dream of life. A complex battle develops, involving love, guilt, magic, art and political ambition. Mor's teenage children and their ...more
Paperback, 318 pages
Published February 4th 2003 by Vintage Classics (first published 1957)
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3.79  · 
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 ·  1,158 ratings  ·  100 reviews

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Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: iris-murdoch
4.5 stars
This is Iris Murdoch’s third novel. It revolves around Bill Mor, a middle-aged teacher in a minor public school. He has a wife (Nan) and two children (Donald and Felicity). He also has some political ambitions; to stand as a Labour Candidate in a local parliamentary seat. He hasn’t yet had the courage to tell his wife as she will be opposed to this and generally gets her own way. Into this situation comes Rain Carter; a talented painter almost half Bill’s age. She is there to paint a po
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
‘The Sandcastle’ (1957) was Iris Murdoch’s third published novel and is far less well known than the much later, much revered and Booker prize winning ‘The Sea, The Sea’.

‘Sandcastle’ tells the story of schoolteacher Mor, his wife Nan and Rain – the young woman who is tasked with painting a portrait of the school’s Headmaster and the subsequent disturbance and disquiet caused by her arrival. It is the story of a closed world and the impact of the outsider – Rain Carter and all she brings with her
Ivana Books Are Magic
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Iris Murdoch is an exceptional novelist. I’m using a present tense despite the fact that she isn’t among the living, because I believe that in a way writers always live on- at least in their works. So, to me she still is a remarkable writer, even if she is not physically writing any more. Having finished this novel earlier this evening, I kept thinking about the reasons that make her so adapt and well suited for writing novels. One of these is surely her intellect.

That her intellect was quite r
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
Description: 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.

The setting is St. Bride's, described as a sound and reputable public school of the second class. The senior master, Bill Mor, is writing a work on the nature of political concepts. He is one of those dangerously good men dedicated to the truth. His wife, Nan, has a more sceptical nature, but she too is dedicated to an a
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,
Sep 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Another "tour de force" by one of my favorite authors.

4* Living on Paper: Letters from Iris Murdoch, 1934-1995
5* Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch
5* Iris Murdoch: Dream Girl
4* A Severed Head
4* The Sea, the Sea
4* The Black Prince
4* The Bell
3* Under the Net
3* The Italian Girl
4* The Sandcastle
TR The Sacred and Profane Love Machine
TR A Fairly Honourable Defeat
TR The Nice and the Good
TR The Philosopher's Pupil
TR The Good Apprentice
TR The Red and the Green
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite Murdoch so far. There was an incessant current of vitality in the novel, even the henpecked and the discarded found itself surged and embraced. That's a feat in itself.
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
Apr 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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

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
Ben Loory
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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...
Aug 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Meg Marie
Apr 20, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Nov 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish, owned-books
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.
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Lauren Albert
Oct 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
dead letter office
Oct 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Leanne Hunt
Mar 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 11, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, classics
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
Kathryn Hurn
Dec 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very sweet story about the complications of loving different people at different times and places of your life. We want to think love and everything else are permanent fixtures, but nothing in this world is a sure bet.
Sep 13, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Jul 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england
Quintessential Brit Lit - perfectly tuned and sneakily funny. One of the most accessible of the great writers.
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My favourite book ever, it's simply perfect, Murdoch at her very best!!!!!!
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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
“You imagine that to live in a state of extremity is necessarily to discover the truth about yourself. What you discover then is violence and emptiness. And of this you make a virtue.” 3 likes
“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.” 2 likes
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