Top positive review
65 people found this helpful
on 6 February 2004
This is by far my favourite in the Murdoch ouevre. A love story that is refreshing in its originality and highly entertaining. Hilary Burde, an Oxford educated civil servant leads a chameleon life in London, visiting different friends on different evenings according to a strict timetable. A figure of fun to his colleagues and married friends, a gallant knight to his sister, an irritating yet compelling friend to an associate, Hilary acts out these (self)imposed roles to varying degrees of success. It is not until he meets his nemesis, Gunter and Lady Kitty that he really begins to live. This novel perhaps has more 'plot' than many of Murdoch's other works, taking many twists and turns, but still contains many of her brilliant observations on the human condition and human nature and above all Love. It is here that we find the belief that is central to Murdoch's philosophy, that it is only through the experience of Love (and not carnal love) that we can truly claim to have lived. Anything that is a substitute simply will not do- it becomes nothing more than 'endless cups of tea', as Hilary writes to his fiancee. Yet the pervailing presence of this potentially saving love is overshadowed by the sinister image of Peter Pan in Kensignton gardens around which much of the action is played out. Such a contrast of optimism and resignation is central to the novel and each of these very different moods make deep connections with the reader.The end of the book fails it a little. It is tempting to call it meta tragic yet it carries with it an air of inevitability, managing to retain its comic elements and failing to destroy the new found optimism in the book.
I reccommend this novel to all Murdoch fans and to those who are new to her work. Although typical of her style it is less 'heavy' than many of her other works, treating philosophy and religion with a lighter hand and concentrating on the more accessibe arena of human nature. Please read it!