I audibly laughed through half the scenes of this amazing first novel. It is a great thing to make someone laugh out loud while reading and this book did it continually. Whether it be the point where Jake Donaghue sits outside Sadie's flat listening to the "plot" against him with the neighbours poking him to see what he'll do or the superhero stunts of Jake and Hugo at the Roman set saving Lefty. I couldn't stop myself from laughing at the clever wit of the situation. But, what is amazing is that behind all of this there are deep philosophical thoughts at work, but the spaciousness of these thoughts never intrude upon the enjoyability of the story. It is similar in that way to Bellow's Henderson the Rain King, but the comedy in this is up a few notches more. The story is deeply routed in London (with a side-trip to Paris) and this location no doubt gives all the more joy to readers familiar to the area with its deep descriptions of particular sections and jabs at the reputations of others. Yet, this too did not detract from the book's enjoyability because of the eloquence of her descriptions. "When caught unawares," Jake reflects, "I usually tell the truth, and what's duller that that." The book is one long reflection and so, according to this line, we are thenceforth suspicious of all we are told. Many points of his memory are probably deeply exaggerated and this would explain some of the all too convenient coincidences. But, who cares? It's a good, entertaining story. Ultimately, Murdoch is presenting a rather ideal view of the independent will of the free spirit. Jake's hope is neatly set forth at the end. But the ideals of living in regards to work and love, wealth and fame seem to be given a manageable frame in which to work in. What Murdoch seems to be saying is that we must be swept along by the course of our own story and not be caught "under the net." The old argument which Bellow echoes also of Being and Becoming. Living, not without reflection, but containing the dialogue between oneself and existence within because once it is set out on paper it becomes a story, not life. "The substance of my life is a private conversation with myself which to turn into a dialogue would be equivalent to self destruction." Jake is learning to live more fully by instinct and self-forgetfulness. He is learning to allow other people's point of views into his own life. He finds that by constantly looking only within himself he isn't able to see anyone there. The being has left.