Friday, 28 October 2011

The Sea, The Sea

Chosen by Karen, October's book of the month was Iris Murdoch's monumental story of love, jealousy and mystic powers "The Sea, The Sea".

The main character, Charles, decides to retire to the English coast and write his memoirs. Little does he know what a Pandora's box he's about to open... as the serpent foretells. There are many layers to the book; philosophical and classical references feature at various points (overwhelming the plot occasionally). Obviously a book of its time, Murdoch's theatre types make the dialogue seem dated - something that June thought was unlikely to improve with age.

Marghie liked Charles' humorous cooking insights: "We had ham cooked in brown sugar to a recipe of Gilbert's, with a salad of tinned tomatoes and herbs. (These excellent tomatoes are best eaten cold. They may be warmed but never boiled as this destroys the distinctive flavour.)"

Maybe Charles' insights on relationships were the cause of many of his troubles. In fact The Sea, The Sea could be viewed as the story of an insensitive and opinionated man coming to terms with the way he has treated his friends and lovers.

Murdoch's description of the sea was admired by Kathleen and June. Praised indeed from Shetland folk!

Overall, the group liked the book. Karen, who had read it before, found it harder work a second time: Janet and myself thought it too long. I skimmed many paragraphs of navel gazing and didn't seem to lose too much when it came to Tuesday's discussion. Jen, who was still reading and enjoying it felt she would definitely finish the book after the meeting.

A desert island choice, perhaps. But maybe you'd be too busy with your own demons?

Friday, 14 October 2011

Muriel Spark

Radio 4 Book Club interview with Muriel Spark, from 2004, talking about The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie